Lynne Francis AC ’10, Poet

Photograph by Christopher T. Martin

Major: American studies

Floyd Cheung’s influential courses: Methods in Literary Studies, Reading Contemporary Poetry

My first class at Smith: “My career was as a nonprofit fundraiser. Floyd Cheung had reinvented the Methods in Literary Studies course in his own wonderful way—it included poetry, for example, and poets’ ideas on how their work should be read. That class set the whole tone at Smith for me. I remember so clearly being addressed in that first class as his colleague—that’s how he referred to all of his students. I was coming back to school after about 40 years. That was huge for me.”

Why I pursued his mentoring: “I think as an Ada, you’re more outspoken, you’re not afraid to go to the professor. You know he’s a human being. I started talking with him about my love of poetry and took anything he taught because he’s such a generous scholar, such an encourager.”

We hold each other accountable: “After graduation, I stayed in Northampton, hoping to find a job. He suggested that we check in on each other every other day. He was writing a great deal then, and I was, too. We would check on each other’s progress: ‘I read six poems.’ ‘I wrote two terrible lines.’ That kept me honest. Now, we still check in to talk about poetry or catch up. Last June he found a 30-day poetry challenge, and we both did it.”

Becoming family friends: “Sometimes we would share poetry while he was waiting for his children to get out of ballet class. My daughters went to Smith, too: Lesley Johnson ’02, and then Caitlin Johnson and I graduated together in 2010. Caitlin was in dance, and Cheung was the second reader for her M.F.A. thesis. That man can do anything.”

Compiled by Lindsey Rowe Roberts ’06