Feature Friday: Meet Michael Trocchia – Philosopher and Poet

Posted on: April 9, 2021

For this week’s #JMUFeatureFriday and #NationalPoetryMonth, we are highlighting one of our own: the philosopher, the poet – Michael Trocchia. 

As the Libraries’ Resource Management Coordinator, Trocchia is part of a team that works on giving you streamlined access to all the articles, books, data, and scholarship that JMU Libraries has to offer. Trocchia and the rest of the Access Team in JMU Libraries (Cyndy Chisare, Rhonda Reedy, and Wendy Veney) do a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes to create a seamless experience for you when using our research databases, ebook collections, journal subscriptions, and streaming platforms. 

Trocchia is also an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at JMU, with research and teaching interests in philosophy of literature and poetry, philosophy of art, aesthetics, philosophy of language, metaphysics, existentialism, and ancient philosophy. In 2020, he was honored with the Distinguished Teaching Award from JMU General Education. 

As if that weren’t enough, Trocchia is also a published poet! His poems and prose have appeared in many journals, including Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics, The Bitter Oleander, and New Orleans Review. He has been a finalist for the Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize, New Rivers Press Many Voices Competition, the C&R Winter Chapbook Contest, and for the Heavy Feather Review Chapbook Contest. 

Q&A with Michael Trocchia

What excites you most about your work right now?

LibKey is an exciting new product that we’ve recently implemented. It helps provide quick, one-click access to journal articles available to JMU users.

How did you get started as a poet?

It may have been the other way around. Poetry got started with me, though I don’t think I knew it at the time. I was in bands in middle school and high school. I couldn’t really play an instrument (and didn’t want to spend the money for one), so my friends made me the singer and I was tasked with writing our lyrics. My listening was all over the place in these years—shifting around from rap to grunge and alternative to classic rock, blues, to punk and hardcore. As I worked on lyrics, bits of lyricism across these genres hung in my ear. But it wasn’t until I read Shakespeare’s Hamlet later in high school that I became aware of the magic, music, and menace of words alone. I ingested the language of that play and since then my vitals have never been quite the same.

How did you first get published?

After studying philosophy in grad school, my focus moved to writing more poems and getting them out in the world. I had been reading them publicly here and there, but hadn’t sent anything to journals. At that time, most of the journals I was considering took print submissions only. This was 2007. So I stuffed a few envelopes with my work and mailed them off. Many months later, to my surprise, I received a letter back from the editor of the Asheville Poetry Review. They wanted to publish “Of Shelter and Form.” 

How did you manage to fit writing in with other demands on your time?

I try to build it into my routines and rhythms. It is important just to get down some sounds, images, fragments and figures, no matter the sense or nonsense—just to exercise these strange expressions and energies. This is what keeps writing poems near at hand, even in busy times. Yes, it is much tougher during the school year, but less important things get set aside when I start working on a few lines. If there is something in those lines, then that something can keep me at my desk for hours. It can keep me returning to it for days, weeks, months even. It might just mean getting up earlier and earlier. 

Who are your favorite poets? 

Ah, so many! And there’s always space for new favorites. Poets I often return to are Salvatore Quasimodo, Yannis Ritsos, Georg Trakl, Nelly Sachs, Wallace Stevens, Mark Strand, and Eric Pankey. I’ve been reading Jaime Sabines lately. 

What’s your favorite local restaurant or local attraction?

The Golden Pony, downtown Harrisonburg. Good food, good people, and good prices! Since their doors opened six years ago, they have been front and center supporting music and local artists and writers, providing a space for shows, exhibits, readings, and so on. Of course, with the pandemic, they’ve had to hit the pause button on hosting shows and events. I am looking forward to when they’re able to get back at it.  

Learn More

Visit Michael Trocchia’s website for links to his poetry and more.

For more Feature Friday stories from JMU Libraries, visit our website or search #JMUFeatureFriday on Twitter.

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