Éireann Lorsung joins Simpson’s English Department

by Jordyn Wilson, News Editor

The English Department has a new face this year, Visiting Assistant Professor Éireann Lorsung. 

Lorsung was born in Minneapolis, Minn., where she lived until she was 25, but for her it’s hard to really pinpoint where she’s from.

“The question of where I’m from is complex for me because I don’t feel a strong connection or knowledge of the place I was born, but the places I feel most connected to and aware of—the places I came of age and entered adulthood, where I wrote my books and learned to think—are places I don’t hold citizenship,” Lorsung said.

She attended the University of Minnesota, where she studied Japanese and English before pursuing an MFA in Poetry. 

At that point, I got a job through the French Ministry of Education and I moved to rural France,” Lorsung said. “ I ended up spending about fifteen years living in various places in the EU. The place I lived the longest was Belgium, where I lived in a rural area in East Flanders.”

Lorsung left Belgium to come back to the United States and teach at a university in Maine, after which she moved to Iowa to be closer to her family.

“After the year of total isolation, and after so long very far from family, I wanted to be relatively close,” Lorsung said. “This is the first time I have lived in the same time zone as my mom and dad since I was in my Master’s program.”

When it comes to teaching, there are a lot of different aspects that Lorsung loves, one of which is getting to watch students form a relationship between the text and their own lives.

“ I love witnessing human surprise,” Lorsung said. “I love when students figure out that their lives are interesting enough to write about, and I love when I see students realize how a poem or piece of prose is working. I love when people realize that they are smart and capable enough to think about something difficult.”

Lorsung said she loves being able to witness students connecting the meanings in literature to similar meanings in their own lives.

“I love the courage and perseverance this takes. I love the play of meaning in literature that suggests there is a similar play of meaning in our lives. I love how studying literature together can teach us to be free together. And I love that I get to read books and individual works that have been important to me alongside people for whom these works are new, and that I get to realize new things about them as we think about them together. I love that this happens newly every time, no matter how many times I’ve read a book or poem before. I love the affirmation that literature makes something real and human happen in me and between us,” she said.

Another benefit for Lorsung is access to the library.

“I also love having library access. And I like knowing that there are things like mammal pelts, a portrait by Botticelli, Etruscan pots, and an Arabic dictionary at places not too far removed from me as I think, look, walk, listen, teach, and write. I love the richness of the ordinary world that teaching literature reminds me of,” Lorsung said.

Outside of work, Lorsung enjoys going for walks, drawing, reading and learning.

“I also like to see artwork, talk about ideas, cook and eat food, be in rooms with humans, and ride my bicycle fast and far,” Lorsung said.