By Kelly Morgan (Staff Writer)
Harry Maxson went from playing rock and roll for 20 years, to getting 13 books published.
But before he even thought about going to college, he wanted to join a circus.
“I had a weird fascination with circus people,” Maxson, 59, said. “I wanted to be one of those guys that set up the tents.”
Maxson’s interest in poetry led him to write books.
“I started publishing when I was about 18 years old,” he said. “I’ve published 13 books and about six-or-seven-hundred poems, stories, articles, essays, interviews, book reviews and magazines.”
His most well-known book is “On the Sonnets of Robert Frost,” published in 1997.
“I did the first and still the only book on Frost,” Maxson said. “He is very important to 20th century poetry and sonnet writing.”
Maxson’s interest in Frost developed when he was 13-years-old.
“Frost was the first modern poet that I ever read,” he said. “Someone gave me a paperback copy of Frost and I carried it in my back pocket for years. I loved his work.”
Maxson’s first book was published in 1976, a collection of poems called “Turning the Wood.”
Maxson lived in Navesink, N.J., for 22 years and earned his bachelor’s of arts in English at Monmouth University in 1972.
He earned his Masters in English at Hollins University in Roanoke County, Va., in 1973 when he was 23 years old.
Between earning his Masters and Ph.D., Maxson took a break from schooling for 20 years and taught at Monmouth.
Maxson went for his Ph.D. to boost his yearly income.
“I was struggling to make money in Jersey because everything was so expensive,” Maxson said.
Before earning his Ph.D., he held various jobs such as a house painter, working in retail, a newspaper reporter, teaching poetry and editing.
His earned Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1993 when he was 43.
Maxson’s life turned out how he had hoped.
“It’s the life I wanted and I made it come true just by sticking to writing,” he said. “I wanted to become a musician and I became one for more than twenty years.”
During his college years at Monmouth University, he was the drummer in several rock and roll bands.
Maxson’s band would practice in the office next to Bruce Springsteen’s band, the Steel Mill.
“In the early evening, when we’d finish practice, there were these big sliding doors that we’d open up because it used to be an old barn that had been converted,” Maxson said.
“We would open the doors, and Springsteen’s band would play a set, then my band would play a set. The doors opened up to a big hill where the students would sit and watch and we would put on a little concert for them.”
Maxson’s English-Scottish family claims to have sired the first European child born in Rhode Island.
“My direct decedent, the first one that came over [to the United States], John, had a 12-year- old son and a wife that was pregnant,” Maxson said. “When they landed in what was called ‘Maxson’s Point’ in Rhode Island, the son and father got off the ship and were killed by Indians. His wife gave birth to what became the first European child born in Rhode Island.”
Maxson has been an adjunct professor of English at Wesley College for 10 years.
He teaches four classes at the Dover campus, one at the Dover Air Force Base and one in New Castle.
He is the Vice President of and owns the publishing company, Bay Oak Publishers, in Dover.
“I’ve worked there since 2000,” said Maxson. “We’ve published 20 to 25 books.”
Maxson’s students respond well to his teaching style.
“I would take another class with him,” said freshman Meggan Apgar. “Either you love him or hate him.”
Freshman Mike Hickey agrees.
“He’s nice and understanding,” he said. “I would take another class with him. [But he is] definitely a strict teacher. He has high expectations.”