Alumnus shares original poetry with students

Jeff Grieneisen traveled from Florida to share some of his poetry in Moore Hall Oct. 21.

Grieneisen is a western Pennsylvania native and Clarion University alumnus. He now resides in Florida with his wife and son and is a professor of English at State College of Florida. His work has appeared in Sylvan Review and Red Raven Review.

Students listen intently as Clarion University alumnus Jeff Greineisen reads poetry from his book, "Good Sumacs."
Students listen intently as Clarion University alumnus Jeff Grieneisen reads poetry from his book, “Good Sumacs.”

Most of his reading came out of his book “Good Sumacs,” but he also shared new works throughout the reading. His book is named after the edible sumac leaves that can be made into tea or lemonade, not the poisonous sumac his parents always told him to stay away from.

His poetry writing style is short and to the point but has a lot of impact. When asked how he knows when it’s appropriate to indent lines, Grieneisen responded, “I don’t really know. I just do what feels right.”

The book is separated into his life experiences in Pennsylvania and his new chapter on life in Florida. The first poem he shared, “At the William Penn Museum,” is about one of his greatest fears: escalators. One of Grieneisen’s favorite poems that he wrote is “My Grandmother.” The poem tells how she worked at the Brockway glass factory to feed Grieneisen’s father and uncle. Grieneisen said the poem is about how much he admired his grandmother and strives to work as hard as she did to make something of himself.

“It was really interesting to actually get to hear what inspired some of the poems…in his book and how they relate to his personal life. I also enjoyed getting a firsthand glimpse of the new material that he has been working on,” said sophomore Rachel Harrison.

Since moving to Florida, Grieneisen has become the founding editor of the literary journal Florida English. He based one of his new poems on one of the journal’s frequent writers who had passed away. One of his stand out poems about Florida was “Writing Nothing about Florida.” It shows Grieneisen’s struggle of leaving the wooded forests and his memories of Kyle Lake behind and moving on to a sanded landscape.

“I love seasons and mountains, so of course I pick a place to live that has neither,” Grieneisen said.

Another poem that stood out was “Evacuated.” It’s about 9/11 and how he never noticed how much noise the airplanes made over State College of Florida until they all stopped that day.

Grieneisen finished his reading with his newest poem, “Patent Pending.” It’s about a rambling man in a bar named Gingerbread Man. He has a new idea that people who live in higher latitudes developed more intellectually because they have to account for cold and warm weather. The ending produced a laugh from nearly everyone in the audience.

Grieneisen’s book “Good Sumacs” is available for purchase on Amazon. To read samples of his work, go to

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