A Muskingum University professor was featured on the Poetry Foundation’s website as part of their Poem of the Day.
Dr. Jane Varley, chair of the Muskingum University English department, had her poem, “Packing the Car for Our Western Camping Trip” published on the foundation’s site.
Varley said the poem is about her dog Sam, a terrier mix, that passed away after she had him for most of her adult life.
“With that particular poem, that was a hard situation,” said Varley. “He was a beautiful dog and I felt compelled to write a poem about how he left my life.”
Varley said she didn’t know about her poem being featured as the Poem of the Day until others contacted her about it.
“I didn’t know about it until people read it and were getting in contact with me saying ‘You’re the poem of the day,’” said Varley. “It was a wonderful surprise.”
Varley said that she wrote the poem several years after her dog had passed away and while he did sometimes have a “mean streak,” Sam was Varley’s “great protector.”
“I think people who love dogs will understand the phrase ‘the lifetime dog,’” said Varley. “He was my lifetime dog, the most important dog I ever had or ever will have.”
Varley said the message she wants her readers to take away from “Packing the Car for Our Western Camping Trip” can be found through shared experience.
“There’s an image of smelling the paws of a dog,” said Varley. “Which to a non-dog person would sound really weird, probably. But to dog people, we know that can be a beautiful smell.”
Varley said she began her passion of poetry in her fifth year of undergraduate school in 1988.
Varley said the inspiration behind most of her work comes from the natural world, books, and other writers’ work.
Varley earned her Bachelor and Master of Arts degree from the University of Idaho and received her Ph.D. at the University of North Dakota.