June 27, 2011
40th Anniversary Alumni Spotlight: Joan Cofrancesco ’81; Award-winning Poet Inspired by Work at Medical Center
Poet Joan Cofrancesco graduated from SUNY Empire State College with a bachelor’s degree in 1981from Central New York Center, and in 2004 with an M.B.A. from the School for Graduate Studies.
She recently was named the recipient of the Bruce Dearing Poetry Award from the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, Upstate Medical Center, which “celebrates the connections between the healing sciences and creative arts.” Cofrancesco, a Central New York resident, works for the open heart unit at the medical center, which she says inspires her medical poetry (but she also is stirred by nature, cats, travel, the occult and love).
Cofrancesco’s love of poetry is lifelong; she grew up listening to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and reading Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Corso and Wakowski. She says her poems come from the tension of “who I am and who I would like to be.” Her work is influenced by her Catholic upbringing and Buddhist inclinations, her Italian heritage and her “own dreams and attitudes.”
“My greatest joy comes from creation,” she says. “Poetry is a sublime mystery mixed with theology.”
Cofrancesco’s work has appeared in numerous journals and books and she gives readings in her region. She recently was profiled in The Healing Muse Café, the official blog for The Healing Muse Literary Journal, published by the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, where her work has appeared frequently in the past. The journal selects short stories, poetry and visual art exploring themes of illness, medicine and the body.
In honor of the college's 40th anniversary year, we will spotlight alumni from across the college, celebrating the range of academic, career and personal paths; geographic locations; modes of learning; and life circumstances and experiences supported by a SUNY Empire State College degree program.