Since graduating from Georgian Court with a B.A. in English Literature, Nicole Homer ‘08 has obtained multiple graduate degrees in English Literature and Fine Arts; served as a Professor of English at Mercer County Community College; and published her first book of poetry, Pecking Order.
Nicole will return to Georgian Court this April as the university’s visiting poet. She plans to read a collection of her published poems, recite works from her next book, and participate in a Q&A with students on campus.
We spoke with Nicole to learn more about her experiences at Georgian Court and how they have inspired her to achieve such remarkable success in her career.
Tell us about your relationship with Georgian Court.
I completed my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at Georgian Court in 2008. Dr. Rader and Dr. Cappucci, who still teach at the university, were pivotal in charting my trajectory. I didn’t think graduate school was an option for me, as I didn’t understand the possibilities. Drs. Rader and Cappucci guided me through that process, and I vividly remember what I first learned under their tutelage. I’m so grateful to still be in contact with them.
Can you describe your experience as a student at Georgian Court?
It was really, really lovely. One example I like to give is my experience in a Diversity in Literature course [EN375 MultiEthnic Literature], taught by Dr. Rader, in which I read Bless Me, Ultima for the first time. I’ve gone on to teach the book many times since becoming an instructor myself.
My time at Georgian Court was challenging in the most wonderful ways. I identified opportunities for improvement and brought new skills to the forefront that I might not have been able to establish.
While my classmates were struggling with public speaking, I felt perfectly comfortable because I could discuss a topic that excited me. In Dr. Rader’s course, I remember being in the front of the room and thinking, “Oh, this doesn’t feel hard at all!” I didn’t feel pressured or overwhelmed, and that was a skill I didn’t know I had. It’s turned out to be extraordinarily helpful in an academic setting.
In short: I could only have achieved the level of satisfaction and success in my career with the guidance and direction I first received at Georgian Court.
What did you do after graduation?
After graduating from Georgian Court, I pursued an M.A. in English Literature with a focus on creative writing from Seton Hall University (SHU).
While at SHU, I served as an English Tutor for the school’s Equal Opportunity Program, inspiring me to work more closely with students from disadvantaged, diverse backgrounds. I went on to lecture at Burlington County College, then Brookdale Community College, and am now a Professor of English at Mercer County Community College.
Community college classrooms have such a wide age range and so much diversity, and the experiences I’ve gained from teaching students in this setting have been invaluable.
How did you become a poet?
I’ve always been interested in poetry and an avid reader.
While attending Brookdale Community College, I started attending the school’s monthly slam poetry event, which served as my introduction to the art form. It was fascinating.
I knew that I wasn’t afraid to get on stage, but there’s a vast difference between a scripted speech and one of an improvisational nature. I then started attending and participating in slam poetry sessions at famed New York landmarks like the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the Bowery Poetry Club.
You’ll be Georgian Court’s “Visiting Poet” in April. What does that entail?
I’m going to give a reading and participate in a Q&A. I will likely read from my first book, Pecking Order, and the book that I’m currently working on, Fast Tail.
Can you tell us more about Pecking Order?
In Pecking Order, I examine how race and gender politics play out in the domestic sphere. In a world where race and color often determine treatment, the home should be a sanctuary—but often is not. The poetry in Pecking Order questions the construction of racial identity and how familial love can both challenge and bolster that construction.
Will this be your first experience as a visiting poet?
I’ve never been a visiting writer at a college or university before. I was the Dartmouth Poet in Residence at The Frost Place, the former home of Robert Frost, but that was more of a residential experience. I also gave a reading at Dartmouth University—but this upcoming visit to Georgian Court is closer to my heart and my home.
Who are your role models in poetry?
Vievee Francis is one of my major role models in poetry. I’ve had the privilege and honor of studying with her at residential fellowships, and she is absolutely brilliant. She has an amazing voice, and I think of her as your favorite poet’s favorite poet.
What advice would you give to a student who likes poetry?
Read as much as you possibly can, then read more. Then go on YouTube and listen to poets read. Then read them out loud, even if they’re not a performer, as there’s so much musicality you can’t get without reading it out loud.
No one can stop you from writing, but it’s easy to forget that you have to read. I’m inspired by what I read. In the same way that academic study is furthered by further academic study, writing poetry is elevated by reading poetry.