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Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Craig Paulenich


Spotlight on: Dr. Craig Paulenich

Among the many members of Kent State Columbiana County's diverse English faculty is Dr. Craig Paulenich. Dr. Paulenich has not only expanded the minds of his students, but he is constantly setting new heights for himself. Paulenich explores everything from history, real life experiences, and old folklore traditions. 

Dr. Craig PaulenichThis fall Paulenich has an upcoming book of poems called St. Vitus Dance (published by Cervena Barva Press). The book places light on an old Czech/Jewish folklore called the Golem centralized around Prague. The Golem is a supernatural creature made of mud in the shape of man in order to serve its creator. "The Golem is in a sense the Bible's version of Adam but created from mud and clay," Paulenich said. After several trips to Prague, Paulenich developed an interest with ancient folklore traditions and studied readings of numerous Czech writers. Paulenich instills consistency with curiosity of old folklore traditions such as the Goatman in his previous book of poetry Drift of the Hunt.

Paulenich has not stopped in his endeavors since summer began. He has been working on a series about John Brown and Edwin Coppoc in relation to Harpers Ferry and the Underground Railroad. He states that in his readings of John Brown "everything is odd, complicated and murky." The series is quote "not exactly historical," said Paulenich but "a lot of history resides in Salem and that includes Coppoc's body buried in Hope Cemetery in Salem." Paulenich quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson saying, "John Brown was an angel of light." Although, Paulenich claims he is an undisciplined writer, he is always a writer at heart and constantly writing when the mood sets the tone.

When asked about his teaching style Paulenich said, "I try not to discourage anyone's creativity in writing; I enjoy guiding my students through the process in order for them to find their voice through words." According to Paulenich "The written word is an important part of our daily lives; it can serve as a powerful avenue to inspire creative thought."

Paulenich explained that while it is difficult to use his own experiences through his teaching because of his course's content. In the past, he encouraged several students to participate in poetry readings held at Kent State East Liverpool in the Mary Patterson Building. He not only encouraged them to read their work but Paulenich and Professor Jason Venner read their poetry the same night. Paulenich said, "Hopefully under the new Dean and collaboration with the Ohio Valley Regional Arts Council he would like to continue with the poetry series."

Paulenich's works consist of Beneath a Single Moon: Buddhism and Contemporary American Poetry an anthology of poems and essays from forty-five American Buddhist poets (Shambhala Press, 1991), Drift of the Hunt (Nobodaddies Press, 2006), Blood Will Tell (BlazeVox[books]), 2009, and the newest of his assortment St. Vitus Dance (Cervena Barva Press, 2012). Paulenich was nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. His works appeared in The Georgia Review, the South Carolina Review, the Kansas Quarterly and the Southern Poetry Review.

Paulenich received his M.F.A. at the University of Pittsburgh in 1982, his Ph.D. in English at Bowling Green State University in 1989. Paulenich has served as Kent State Salem and East Liverpool as an associate professor of English since 1989. He is also, Kent State University's coordinator for Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program. Paulenich is a dedicated professor who loves Kent State Columbiana County campuses and enjoys not only how much the students and faculty work together within the campuses but with the community as well. This is where he calls home and has no plans on leaving the area when outstanding citizens surround him on a daily basis.

"I love Kent State Salem and East Liverpool campuses and the surrounding area. It is my home. The students are totally committed to their studies and each student is unique. I enjoy the faculty I work with just as much. In the future, I would love to teach more classes in East Liverpool because I like the area, the people, and the view of the Ohio River. Salem is rich in history and I love what the town and what the campus has to offer," expressed Paulenich.