Professor Brian Cordell.

PARAMUS, N.J. – Brian Cordell, an associate professor at Bergen Community College, will publish his first chapbook, “In Their Final Performance,” with Finishing Line Press in November. The collection of poems pay tribute to singer and songwriter Jason Molina of Magnolia Electric Co., the band’s music and the loss of musicians such as Townz Van Zandt, David Bowie, Gord Downie and others.

“I am very excited about the publication,” Cordell, of Fairfield, Connecticut, said. “Not only is it my first collection, but the poems in it are particularly meaningful to me. The poems are an elegy to the individual losses we all experience every day.”

According to Cordell, when he first heard Magnolia Electric Co. in 2005, the group’s haunting lyrics and arresting music in the live album, Trials and Errors, made him an instant admirer. When the band’s front man, Molina, died after an extended battle with alcoholism, Cordell felt impacted. After hearing an interview with Glen Hansard, who compiled a tribute record about Molina’s songs, Cordell decided to write his own tribute to Molina and Magnolia Electric Co. After he completed a nine-poem sequence – “Fading Trails” – he wrote about other musicians whose music resonated with him and whose deaths left behind a similar emptiness, according to the professor.

“What interests me the most about poetry is its ability to evoke an emotional response,” he said. “Poetry uses language, imagery, sound and rhythms to create an experience for the reader. Even if the reader doesn’t understand the poem, he or she can still experience how it is supposed to make one feel.”

Cordell began teaching at Bergen in 2007. He teaches composition, literature, technical writing and creative writing. Cordell holds an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Cordell’s work has also been published in New Haven Review, Caesura, Perfume River Poetry Review, LEVELER, Rust+Moth and San Pedro River Review.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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