Alumni Spotlight: Dennis R. Rush

Poet and artist Dennis Rush grew up on a remote 100-acre tobacco farm in Kentucky. It was at the end of a gravel road, a mile from the nearest house, which was often unoccupied. He spent much of his time walking through the woods, fishing and just being in nature. While he believes this isolation hampered his social skills, Dennis can also see how it aided in his artistic development as it forced him to truly process thoughts before expressing them.

Because of the tools and methods they used in tobacco farming, growing up on the farm felt like living in the 1800’s. After graduation, Dennis worked in a factory for a time, then joined the Air Force. 

Dennis saw Goddard as his version of Black Mountain College, drawn both to its history as well as its non-traditional approach. During his two years in the MFA program, Dennis was very prolific during his time at Goddard, writing about 120 poems. His thesis project featured an intimate relationship with nature which functioned as a metaphor for his own experiences.

Dennis draws inspiration from his particular philosophy about poetry. He sees that much of our thinking, especially when we are in nature, has nothing to do with language. It is more primal. We developed language merely to communicate at first, it was only when we attempted to describe the ineffable that language moved towards art. The magic of this is that it slows the primal mind down and redirects thought back to language.

His most recent book, Mayfield is an account of his volunteer experience in Mayfield, Kentucky helping a community which had been devastated by tornadoes. He took his two youngest kids with him to work  at a food distribution center, which was a giant grocery store made of donations. Setting out, his goal was to be a learning experience for both him and his kids but it also inspired lots of new work. Dennis hopes it inspires others to be spontaneous and volunteer when needed. Buy the book through his website to get a signed copy and donate half of the proceeds to a Kentucky library.

Stay tuned to listen to Dennis read the first poem from his first book, What are the Rich Doing Tonight? also available for purchase on his website.

His latest work in progress is very inward-looking. It examines the question of who are. He really finds his work works best as a collection and hopes this one will bring people to question why they think the way they do.

Connect with Dennis

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