Ode to a Poet on His Birthday

Fred Marchant, a man who has devoted his life to the written word, was almost speechless when he learned that Mayor Martin J. Walsh would proclaim the award-winning poet’s 70th birthday as “Fred Marchant Day” in the city of Boston.

“When I received the news, it was a complete surprise,” said Marchant, a Suffolk University emeritus professor. “I really didn’t know what to say.”

During a brief campus ceremony on December 24, Tom Johnston of the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges read the Marchant proclamation signed by the mayor.

“It was one of the best Christmas and birthday gifts I’ve ever received,” said Marchant.

Marchant taught English at Suffolk for more than 31 years before retiring in the spring of 2013.

He was the founding director of Suffolk’s Poetry Center and the University’s creative writing program.

"Vital literary voice"

The proclamation begins by noting that Marchant has “earned a reputation as one of Boston’s most active and vital literary voices, serving as poet, translator, organizer, great friend and supporter of Boston’s literary community.”

“This was more than a personal honor; it extends to Suffolk University and the Poetry Center,” said Marchant.

‘The Poetry Center has provided a significant enhancement to the educational life of the Suffolk community and the city of Boston for many years,” he said. Through it, “students, faculty and staff, and people of all ages throughout the city have had the opportunity to hear and meet literary artists from all over the world.”

Marchant said that the Poetry Center has “really established itself as an important venue for literary events in the city, and will continue to play such a role in our community.”

The proclamation also recognized Marchant as the author of four collections of poetry: Tipping PointFull Moon BoatHouse on Water, House in Air; and The Looking House. He also has contributed to countless literary journals and magazines, and has edited numerous works.

“A Place at the Table,” a poem from The Looking House, has been featured on the Poetry on the T series, a program that replaces some advertisements with poetry for the enjoyment of the million people who ride the MBTA every day.

Marchant plans to release a new collection of poems, Said Not Said, in spring 2017.

“I will always enjoy the work of writing itself, but my life’s work as a teacher has been rooted at Suffolk, and I will always be grateful for that,” he said.