Poet, Politics Buff Serves as Braniff Grad Association President
Date published: Oct. 17, 2015
After completing his undergraduate studies at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, Rhett
Forman, PhD ’17, worked in a political think tank in Raleigh, North Carolina, for
a year before deciding politics probably wasn’t the route he wanted to pursue. He
still applied for some political science graduate programs but expected literature
would more likely be his choice. Three years later, he’s working toward a doctorate
in literature through the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts’ Institute of Philosophic
“I applied to many graduate programs and even considered applying to a few in creative
writing,” Forman said. “But I ended up at UD because I couldn’t imagine being anywhere
else studying literature.”
He hasn’t abandoned politics altogether, though; in fact, he was elected president
of the Braniff Graduate Student Association (BGSA) this spring, so he will serve through
the 2015-16 academic year.
“I got involved because I thought the BGSA to be very necessary,” Forman said.
During his tenure, he will persist in promoting what have been the BGSA’s top three
priorities: to support graduate students who attend conferences; to fund Ramify, Braniff’s
literary and scholarly journal; and to voice and help address the concerns of the
Braniff student body. Additionally, the BGSA has added three other components: the
Braniff Conference in Liberal Arts, which will be held for the second year in January
2016; a professional development committee, which will host workshops and aid students
in applying and preparing for conference presentations; and a social events committee,
which will promote and sponsor activities to bolster Braniff’s sense of community.
“The efforts of the BGSA to promote the professional development of the graduate students
complements the efforts of both the dean's office and the individual departments,” Forman explained.
Forman’s largest project currently as BGSA’s president is the conference, which will
be held Jan. 29-30. This year’s theme is philosophy and poetry, and Ron Smith, the
poet laureate of Virginia, will be the keynote speaker. Graduate students from all
over the U.S., as well as from Italy and France, have already expressed interest in presenting
at the conference.
Forman’s academic interests center in poetry -- both the writing and the studying
of -- and he has a particular affinity for Ezra Pound. His introduction to Pound occurred
in high school at the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. Shortly thereafter,
he learned about the Ezra Pound Center for Literature in northern Italy, which he
was finally able to attend in the summer of 2014. Located at Brunnenburg Castle (the
home of Pound’s daughter, Mary de Rachewiltz, and her family), the center is run by
the University of New Orleans and research professor John Gery as a facet of the Division
of International Education. Students take two courses, one on poetry/creative writing
and one on Pound’s work. Forman received credit at UD for these courses.
“Going to the Ezra Pound Center for Literature was the culmination of many years of
time and effort,” Forman said.
This past July, Forman attended the Ezra Pound International Conference (EPIC), also
held at Brunnenburg. He performed some of his own poetry and presented an academic
paper he had written for Professor of Psychology Robert Kugelmann and Professor of English Scott Dupree's History
of Modern Psychology and Modern Poetry class at UD. As a result of attending and presenting at EPIC, he now contributes
poetry to and writes book reviews for the Ezra Pound Society magazine, Make It New.
When he’s not studying and writing poetry, Forman is a competitive amateur powerlifter
and helps to strength train the UD women’s soccer team. Once he completes his doctorate
at UD, he may pursue an M.F.A. in creative writing. Ultimately, he wants to teach,
preferably at a small liberal arts college.