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York Faculty Member Publishes Poetry Collection, Shell Games

Shell Games by Noel Sloboda
9/12/2008 —

Noel Sloboda, instructor in English at Penn State York, is the author of Shell Games, a new book released in July featuring 35 poems.  This is Sloboda’s first book of poetry which was published by Buffalo small press sunnyoutside.  Sloboda has been writing poetry for as long as he can remember but only began having it published in the last half decade. He has published more than 100 poems in various journals in the United States and abroad and is the author of The Making of Americans in Paris, a book on Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein.

“I’ve long been interested in what we see in the half-light – when clouds pass overhead or the sun drops below the tree line.  Many of my poems have a dark tinge for that reason, not because I am trying to be bleak, but, rather, because I am interested in what we see when the hard edges blur, when shades of gray emerge,” Sloboda said.

Early praise for the collection has come from Carol Clark Williams, the poet laureate of York, Pennsylvania, who wrote of the collection: “[Shell Games] is pure poetry, at once clarifying and deepening the mystery of our human experience.”  Keyhole Magazine editor Peter Cole added:  “Noel Sloboda’s poems are life forms.”

Shell Games takes its name from one of the poems in the book.  The inspiration for the poem came from a story a Shakespearean actor shared with Sloboda.  The actor, along with his wife, rescued a turtle.  The turtle’s shell was cracked and they wrapped it in duct tape.  The last Sloboda heard, the turtle was alive and kicking, unlike the turtle in his poem.  In handling the material, Sloboda turned it to comment on loss and relationships, thinking there’s something inherently sad, and maybe even tragic, about a turtle with a cracked shell.  “We usually think of turtle shells as tough, as protection, but in fact they can become serious liabilities if damaged.  In the poem, I touch on the shells people construct around both loved ones and themselves,” he said.

An expert on Shakespeare, Sloboda serves as dramaturg (literary consultant) for the Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival. His work on Shakespearean film adaptations has appeared in Studies in the Humanities and in the collection In/Fidelity: Essays on Film Adaptation (Cambridge Scholars Press). He has contributed to the Encyclopedia of American Literature, the Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction, the Student’s Companion to American Literary Characters, and the Literary Contexts series. His creative work has appeared in venues based in Canada, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

Sloboda is a graduate of Washington University with a masters and doctorate in English and American studies and has a bachelor of arts in English and philosophy from Connecticut College.  He was the recipient of the 2005 James H. Burness Award for Excellence in Teaching at Penn State York and the 2006 recipient of the campus’ advising award in recognition of outstanding advising to students.   Sloboda was the driving force behind the campus’ online student magazine, Any Other Word, and serves as its adviser.

Shell Games is available for $10 at the Penn State York Bookstore or through the publisher, sunnyoutside, at http://www.sunnyoutside.com/releases/031/o.html or on amazon.com.

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