UT Professor's Poem Featured in The New Yorker

Published: Apr 11, 2008
A poem by Martha Serpas, associate professor of English and writing at The University of Tampa, was featured in the April 7 issue of The New Yorker magazine.

The poem, titled “The Diener,” includes elements of Serpas’ work as a chaplain helping tend to the spiritual needs of trauma victims and their families at Tampa General Hospital. The title refers to the member of the hospital personnel who oversees the morgue. The work itself was inspired from Serpas’ experience of having witnessed an autopsy, she said.

“It’s about what it means to be embodied and what it means to be created and to create,” Serpas said.

A native of Louisiana, Serpas previously had three poems about her home state featured in The New Yorker following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The magazine’s new poetry editor, Paul Muldoon, a renowned poet and writer, recently selected “The Diener” for publication.

“To have the new editor choose it is a big honor for me,” Serpas said.

Serpas is the author of two books of poems, “Côte Blanche” (New Issues, 2002) and “The Dirty Side of the Storm” (W.W. Norton, 2006).

A graduate of Yale’s Divinity school, Serpas speaks frequently in the Tampa community and elsewhere about the relationship between belief and literary works. She has read her work at Yale, Western Michigan, Boston University and the University of New Orleans. She is also co-poetry editor of the Tampa Review