An Interview with Mark Jay Brewin Jr. ’08

Mark Jay Brewin Jr.’s book, “Scrap Iron,” published in 2013, features poems about his childhood home in South Jersey, landscape, science and relationships.

Author and alum Mark Jay Brewin Jr. ’08 visited Elon on Tuesday, Feb. 24 to share his poems with students and faculty at the First Annual Alumni Poetry Reading in 2019. The event took place in Sankey Hall, where Brewin read a combination of original poems that he wrote during his time at Elon and poems from his award-winning book, “Scrap Iron.”

Brewin read a slew of poems pertaining to his childhood home in South Jersey, human relationships and scientific concepts. He says, “I come from a long line of talkers and storytellers, which is exciting because that’s sort of half the battle [of writing].”

At Elon, Brewin majored in both creative writing and photography. Brewin attributes his success as a poet and artist to the complimentary combination of these majors and the self-reflective nature of his education. “The art classes taught me how to write about my poetry and what it meant,” he says, “It all tied together.”

Brewin says, “the faculty were just tremendously giving of their time and really helpful in figuring out what was going to be the best for me.” In particular, Professor Drew Perry helped Brewin to jumpstart his career. Brewin says, “He basically just said to me that ‘no matter what you do, if poetry and writing is what you like, then you have to go to grad school and you have to learn that craft further.’”

Additionally, Brewin says, “[Professor Perry] read portfolio after portfolio of work for me and critiqued it to help make sure that my voice was intact and that whatever schools I was applying to got the best version of me.”

Mark Jay Brewin Jr. ’08 read original poems and poems from his book, “Scrap Iron,” during the First Annual Alumni Poetry Reading last Tuesday in Sankey Hall (Photo by Christina Elias).

Brewin’s favorite class at Elon was the Heaney and Yeats class (ENG 349) taught by Kevin Boyle. Brewin describes the class as “partially an Irish history class” in addition to a comparison of both authors’ poems. “It was fantastic,” he says, “It directly helped me get that scholarship to study in Ireland.”

For graduate school, Brewin studied at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. “Grad school gave me opportunities to publish, write or receive travel grants to study in Ireland,” Brewin says, “which has been a huge gift.”



Brewin advises current English students to write as much as possible and to consult other students and faculty about your work. “There’s such a great network of students here and faculty making sure you’re getting your work looked at and talking about your craft and how you can hone in on it. Take advantage of that now,” he says, “I think that’s the greatest step toward getting published.”

The First Annual Alumni Poetry Reading of 2019 gave the Elon community the opportunity to hear Brewin’s captivating, award-winning poetry and to learn more about Brewin’s career journey. Brewin’s story is an example of how a multi-faceted education, support system and passion can help you reach your goals.

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