Teacher Plans to Pursue Poetry after Retirement
Byline: Sharon Huck
The usual advice given to aspiring poets is, "Don't give up your day job." But Wheaton's award-winning poet Donna Pucciani is going to do just that.
In June, Pucciani will retire after teaching for 38 years, the last 18 in the English department at Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream. Then she will have the leisure to follow her passion for writing poetry instead of fitting it in after a long day of teaching and grading papers.
She had always loved reading poetry but never tried writing any until she was assigned to teach a Creative Writing class. She began to write along with her students. When they began to be published and win awards, she thought, "I can do this, too!"
So began her summer pastime, and what began as a casual hobby has grown into a commitment.
Pucciani has just published her third book of poetry, and one of her poems recently won a $1,000 award from the Illinois Arts Council.
But Pucciani is not the stereotypical poet, languishing alone in a garret. She has been mentored and inspired by a host of local talent.
"A colleague of mine at Glenbard North taught English, coached football and wrote poetry," she said. "He recommended an organization called Poets and Patrons of Chicago. When I joined them, I found a lot of support.
"They have quarterly assignments and critiques. They're open to anyone within a 50-mile radius of Chicago, and are always looking for anyone who wants to put their poetry out there for suggestions. You submit anonymously."
In turn, Poets and Patrons suggested that Pucciani publish a book of her work.
"This is a different undertaking," she said, "because poetry doesn't sell and very few publishers accept poetry manuscripts."
They also suggested that she submit to the Poets Club of Chicago.
"This is an invitation-only group," she added. "You have to submit to a membership committee. We hold monthly group sessions where we criticize each other. They were the biggest help in sharing publication tips."
Pucciani currently serves as the group's vice-president.
Her first book, a chapbook, or pamphlet, "The Other Side of Thunder," was published by Flarestack Poetry in England. …