UGA Online Professor Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor Releases New Poetry Book

Melisa “Misha” Cahnmann-Taylor, like many UGA online faculty members, takes her area of expertise beyond just the virtual classroom. Cahnmann-Taylor, a professor in both the Graduate Certificate in TESOL and the Endorsement in ESOL, recently released a poetry book called “Imperfect Tense,” and was able to present her collection of poetry to a large crowd at Avid Bookshop.

“Imperfect Tense” is divided into three sections: imperfect tense, past tense and ever present tense. Cahnmann-Taylor explains that the sections are a metaphor for the meaning behind the poetry. “The sections of the book are playing with some of the grammar structures in Spanish because so much of the book is about second language acquisition, and those of course are also wonderful metaphors for moving across languages — what’s imperfect, what’s present, what’s past is always in flux and never as straight-forward as a grammar textbook might indicate,” explained Cahnmann-Taylor.

Much of her book draws from her experiences while being a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico from 2013 to 2014. One of Cahnmann-Taylor’s main areas of interest is in adults who choose to learn a language later in life, which is what she focused on while studying in Mexico. Cahnmann-Taylor explained that while studying there, many of her ethnographic field notes that she took made their way into representation as poetry, which reflect themes that appear in the classes she teaches.

“My poems are basically a mini lesson of everything I’m trying to convey in my online course which is to teach teachers to become aware of what it means to teach and learn across linguistic difference, cultural difference, and racial difference,” said Cahnmann-Taylor.

During her poetry reading at Avid Bookshop, Cahnmann-Taylor incorporated several Mexican traditions, making the event authentic and reflective of visual art exhibits and creative poetry readings in Oaxaca, Mexico — the city where she spent her Fulbright. Local bass player Dan Horowitz accompanied her and played music on the side, and mezcal, a spirit made from the agave plant, was served to guests.

If you missed her most recent poetry reading, no worries — Cahnmann-Taylor will be reading poetry at The Globe in Athens on September 7. Additionally, Cahnmann-Taylor has organized this year’s Poe-tober, a month-long celebration of the works of Edgar Allen Poe. “We have at least 11 public events that feature not just Poe’s writing but variations and ways to help people in Athens just become interested and engaged in poetry itself,” she said. For more information about the events, see the College of Education website. For more information or to purchase her book, click here.