Retired Penn State Professor Robert Lima has come out with his eighth poetry collection.
Lima, Knight Commander of the Order of Queen Isabel of Spain , published his collection entitled “Self” at the end of 2012.
“Self” is composed of his “statements” about himself “in poetry form,” he said. The collection includes introspection, reactions to things around him and deals with “one’s development over life,” he added.
Robin Becker, poet and professor of English and women’s studies, said that poetry “aspire[s] to articulate what it means to be human.”
“Along with the fine arts and performing arts, literature represents the human effort to understand life,” she said.
Lima said he began writing when he was an undergraduate at Villanova University in the 1950s.
In 1955 he said he had his first published poem, “Everglades,” in the university magazine, “Lynx.” Lima said this first published poem was an “incentive to keep going” and if it had not occurred he most likely would have stopped writing.
Lima said he continued to write poems in Lynx and has now had over 400 poems published.
Writing was a tradition in his family, he said. Lima spent the first eight years of his life in Cuba where his uncle was a columnist and his father was a journalist who had a magazine in Havana, he said.
Lima said he began college as a civil engineering major but that there were “too many strange people in engineering.”
He instead gained credits in both history and philosophy, became published in the university magazine and has “been writing ever since,” he said.
Along with poetry, Lima said he has written an autobiography, travel articles and is working on a novel.
He said he is a “frustrated novelist” and has been working on-and-off on a novel through the years.
The piece currently has about 100 pages and “maybe someday, time permitting,” it will get finished, he said.
“Poetry just always appealed to me,” Lima said. “[You get a] kind of satisfaction when you get it right. [There is] a sense of completion,” he added.
Lima said when he writes he has the line “‘emotion recollected in tranquility’ buzzing around in [his] head.” This line comes from William Wordsworth’s definition of poetry and is an idea he follows when writing poetry, he said.
His process of creating poetry follows Wordsworth’s idea of writing something and going back later to “verify that it’s true,” he said.
Robert Edwards, professor of English and comparative literature , said that Lima “embodies a very interesting model” because on one hand he is a scholar and on another he is a writer.
“His work flows between those two poles,” Edwards said. “In a lot of ways he’s a modernist.”
Lima “moves easily between Spanish and English” when writing poetry, he said. This achievement is “one of the things that’s really fascinating about [his] work,” Edwards said.
Lima taught for 40 years starting with three years at Hunter College in New York. He spent the last 37 years teaching at Penn State in the Spanish and Comparative Literature departments.
For five years, he was also the chair of comparative literature.