IMAGE Journal named Mercer associate professor Anya Silver as its “Artist of the Month” for October. IMAGE is a national literary publication dedicated to supporting and showcasing art shaped by the faith traditions of western civilization. Dr. Silver is an English professor and poet and has published several poems in the journal. She is also celebrating the publication this month of her first book of poetry, The Ninety-Third Name of God, by the Louisiana State University Press.
Dr. Silver is currently at work on her second collection of poetry, tentatively titled Strange Myrrh, and will be reading from that manuscript and The Ninety-Third Name of God on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. in Newton Chapel on the Macon campus.
Dr. Silver’s work has been formed in part by her battles with cancer, and she is currently fighting the disease for a second time after first battling against long odds to beat inflammatory breast cancer while pregnant with her son, who is now six.
“Treating cancer requires an enormous investment of time--hours every week spent in waiting rooms and receiving infusions—that inevitably distract from the craft of writing,” she told IMAGE. “However, cancer has also provided me with what Emily Dickinson called ‘a flood subject.’ Poems about cancer keep coming to me even when unbidden, wanting to be written. Having cancer has become a vocation, albeit one that I would have preferred not to accept: I feel a special calling to write about physical (and mental) afflictions in a society that worships the whole, the healthy, the young.”
Her poetry stands out according to the journal, which praised Dr. Silver’s poems for their “smart, lucid, sometimes playful language and her gorgeous but unlabored images win the reader to her way of seeing; that is, to an openness to finding beauty in unexpected places. Her voice is straightforward, her poems refreshingly intelligible and unapologetically pleasing, even pretty, but her proposal is profoundly mysterious and even a little frightening: For her, and for us when we are with her, everything in the world has the potential to offer a kind of image for prayer—and that therefore prayer is possible everywhere and in everything.”
Dr. Silver has also published a chapbook, Saints of Autumn, and a book of literary criticism, Victorian Literature and the Anorexic Body. She has been a professor at Mercer since 1997 and earned her bachelor’s degree from Haverford College and her Ph.D. from Emory University.