Judith Vollmer’s quiet voice still echoed in the Octagon as she described the science of poetry. She began by explaining the basis of her poetry. Born to parents who worked in the nuclear energy field, Vollmer was used to hearing talk about nuclear reactors and explosions. These childhood experiences are reflected in her work. On March 22, 2012, she visited the College of Saint Elizabeth bringing with her a simple strategy : to brainstorm with CSE students while teaching a master class.
During the master class, Vollmer said that there were three things that it takes to get into the writing field. “ … luck, talent, and discipline. And there’s only one thing out of the three you can control: discipline. Everything else falls into the hands of the universe.” Her recent book called The Water Books has been released by Autumn House Press. Vollmer’s previous book, Reactor, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle.
Vollmer brought an impressive list of credentials to the Octagon’s podium. She is a recipient of literature fellowships in poetry granted from National Endowment of the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In 1992, she was a recipient for the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Vollmer has been awarded residencies at the American Academy in Rome, Yaddo, Centrum, and Blue Mountain Center. She currently teaches poetry writing, world literature, and nature writing at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. She is also an MFA professor in Poetry and Poetry in Translation at Drew University. She now lives in Pittsburgh and co-edits the poetry journal 5 AM.