Daniel Bourne

Dan Bourne reads his poetry at a local arts festival


Two poems by Professor Daniel Bourne included in The Best of Salmagundi

Anniversary issue features “best of the best” from magazine’s first 50 years

22 June, 2015 by John Hopkins

WOOSTER, Ohio – Salmagundi magazine, widely regarded as one of the most influential intellectual quarterlies in the United States, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year by releasing what its editors describe as “a ‘best of the best’ anthology devoted to fiction, poetry and interviews with writers drawn from our long history.” Among those writers: Daniel Bourne, poet and professor of English at The College of Wooster.

The Best of Salmagundi reprints two of Bourne’s poems, “Agitprop” and “To the Feral Cats of Vilnius,” both originally published in the magazine in 2000. Bourne shares the Salmagundi 50th anniversary stage with poets and writers including Adrienne Rich, Seamus Heaney, Joyce Carol Oates, V.S. Naipaul, Milan Kundera, and Nadine Gordimer.

Bourne’s relationship with Salmagundi goes back almost 30 years. The magazine published his translations of two poems by Polish political poet Tomasz Jastrun in 1986, while Bourne was on a Fulbright fellowship in Poland, two years before joining Wooster’s faculty. In 1989, several of Bourne’s own poems appeared in the magazine, and through the years others have followed, most recently in 2007.

One day last winter, “out of the blue,” Bourne says, he received an email from editor Peg Boyers, saying that they wanted to re-publish two of his poems in the anniversary edition.

Bourne wrote “To the Feral Cats of Vilnius” while attending a conference in that city in the late 1990s. “I was in the right place at the right time to capture the poem, in that I was in Lithuania at the very time to see it waking up from decades of Soviet hibernation.”

Of the other poem selected by the editors, Bourne says, “I began to write ‘Agitprop just as the start of the poem describes. I live in the country [outside] Wooster, with a pasture to the west of our house, where some neighbors used to keep some aging Belgian show horses. One foggy morning I looked out and saw one of the old horses, just barely visible in the fog, and all of a sudden these images connecting with my readings from decades ago in Russian history and literature and my fascination with 20th century Soviet propaganda all came flooding into my mind. The poem really wrote itself.”

Bourne has been a member of Wooster’s English department since 1988. He has published two books of poetry, The Household Gods and Where No One Spoke the Language, and is the founding editor of the literary journal Artful Dodge.

“The fact that the editors of Salmagundi took those two poems for their anthology – and a company of poets such as Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Robert Lowell, Caroline Forche, Billy Collins – is truly an honor,” Bourne says. “And I know that they didn’t republish my poems because of my name, but because of the poems themselves; it was the poems that earned their way into those pages.”

The College of Wooster is America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. Wooster offers an excellent, comprehensive liberal arts education, culminating in a rigorous senior project, in which each student works one-on-one with a faculty mentor to conceive, organize and complete a significant research project on a topic of the student’s own choosing. Through this distinctive program, every Wooster student develops abilities valued by employers and graduate schools alike: independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, and strong written and oral communication skills. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students.