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3 English professors featured in 2021 ‘Connecticut Literary Anthology’

Published on October 27, 2021

3 English professors featured in 2021 ‘Connecticut Literary Anthology’

Book cover Three English Professors at Eastern Connecticut State University — Raouf Mama, Chris Torockio and Daniel Donaghy — have been published in the new edition of the “Connecticut Literary Anthology.” More than 400 authors submitted their work for the annual publication of poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

On Oct. 22, at Real Art Ways in Hartford, the three authors delighted a packed audience of readers, writers and scholars as they read poems and excerpts from new stories. The event was part of the program to celebrate the release of the anthology.

Donaghy read his poem “The Movie World.” “I started writing ‘The Movie World’ in February and March while I was in Tulsa, OK,” said Donaghy. “I was with my youngest daughter Eliza, who was acting in ‘The Christmas Love Tree,’ a sweet family film that is scheduled to air on television during next year’s holiday season. It was great fun to be on a movie set, but even greater to see my daughter blossom in her role as the handsome widow’s cute little girl. I’ll be forever grateful for the gift she gave me in allowing me to share that experience with her.”

Dan Donaghy 

Donaghy is the author of three poetry collections, most recently “Somerset,” which was co-winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize, and “Start with the Trouble,” winner of the University of Arkansas Press Poetry Prize.

 Mama sang the praises of his colleagues as he read from “The Good Samaritan,” part of his debut novel-in progress, “Burning Candles,” a lyrical work of social criticism imbued with magical realism. “These (Donaghy, Torockio and Mama) are among the 42 cut flowers in the beautiful bouquet of fiction, non-fiction and poetry that is the 2021 edition of the Connecticut Literary Festival Anthology. The simultaneous publication of the writings of these three Eastern faculty in this anthology is indeed a heart-warming tribute, not only to their outstanding gifts of penmanship, but also to Eastern’s proud reputation as Connecticut’s premiere public liberal arts college.”       

Raouf Mama 

A best-selling author and an award-winning storyteller, Mama is the only person in the world today who shares folktales in English, French, Fon and Yoruba from his native Benin and other parts of the world.  He is a Distinguished Professor of English and a CSU Professor at Eastern.

Torockio read from his new short story, “When It’s You.”  “With this short story, I was trying to capture those underlying, sometimes embarrassing, emotions that one encounters with the loss of a loved one — in this case a woman who has lost her husband," said Torockio. "There’s grief, sure, but there’s also anger, loneliness, and even jealousy and resentment toward those who still have their loved ones. I wanted to show a character navigating her way through these fragile moments of awareness and finding some hope on the other side.”

Torockio is the author of two collections of short stories and two novels, most recently, “The Soul Hunters” (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). His fiction has appeared in “Ploughshares,” “The Iowa Review,” “The Gettysburg Review,” “Colorado Review,” “The Antioch Review,” “Denver Quarterly,” “West Branch,” “Willow Springs” and elsewhere.

Christopher Torockio

“Culled from over 400 submissions, the 2021 edition of the Connecticut Literary Festival Anthology offers a lush bouquet of fiction, non-fiction and poetry that readers are sure to relish,” said best-selling novelist Wally Lamb in his review on the importance of the anthology. “Within its pages, I found new works by writers I have long admired: Chris Belden, Larry Bloom, Ken Cormier, Margaret Gibson, Raouf Mama and Bessy Reyna. Just as enjoyable is the work of writers who are, for me, new discoveries. The literary arts are alive and well here in the Constitution State. This collection is ample proof.”

“It feels like we have become unglued from one another since March of 2020; masked strangers passing each other in anonymity,” said Lisa Comstock, director for Connecticut Center for the Book. “But this anthology glues us back together and helps us find ways to heal and talk with one another. Important stories are told, and we should heed them.”

“This anthology brings together poets, fiction writers and essayists to create a snapshot of the rich and varied work being done in the Nutmeg State,” said novelist and poet Sarah Strong, author of “The Mouth of Earth.” “The voices in this anthology offer us a mirror of our times, reflections of other times and meditations on the state of our hearts. Readers looking for evidence of Connecticut’s vibrant literary community will find it here.”

The Central Connecticut State English Department, in conjunction with the Connecticut Literary Festival, annually publishes an anthology of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry by Connecticut writers. The anthology was generously supported by an anonymous donor grant, which was administered by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

For more information about the anthology, visit:

Written by Dwight Bachman