To date, Zdanys has published 44 books of his own poetry and translations of Lithuanian literature into English. He has another two books of original verse scheduled for release this year.
The post is the culmination of Zdanys’ many roles and positions over the years. Prior to his tenure at Sacred Heart, he taught at Yale University in addition to serving as a dean and assistant to the university president. Comfortable with the challenges of administration, he served for 11 years as Connecticut’s chief academic officer, responsible for the academic integrity of the state’s 47 institutions of higher learning.
Zdanys returned to the classroom in 2009, teaching creative writing at Sacred Heart. “The only thing that’s been constant through it all has been my work as a poet and translator,” Zdanys says.
“We are excited to announce Jonas as poet-in-residence,” says Laura Niesen de Abruna, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “He is a gifted poet and a gifted teacher.”
She called the new position “another example of our commitment to providing our students with a well-rounded liberal arts education.”
Though the classically soft-spoken professor speaks of his title as a “kind and welcome gesture” recognizing his life’s work, he has no intention of treating the post as purely honorific. Zdanys is keen to use his visibility within the literary world to help illuminate the University’s standing commitment to the arts as it secures the talents of numerous practitioners across an array of artistic disciplines.
Likewise, he looks to connect SHU to its local and regional community, making on-campus artistic events more widely accessible to the public and developing outreach programs, such as visiting high schools to bring the University community’s talent and experience to the next generation of creative artists.
“My students are wonderful,” Zdanys says. “But they are so used to certainty. And it’s an uncertain world. Creative writing, poetry—the arts in general—allows them to break out of that.”