It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and of course, college being fairly busy and fast-faced, a lot has happened in that time! One of the things that stands out most, though, is that I got to introduce a visiting writer.
Susquehanna’s writing department brings in a series of visiting writers each year, spanning across genres. These writers do Q & A sessions with students in the afternoon and then have a reading in the evening. At each reading, a selected creative writing student always introduces the author before they take the stage. I was surprised when I received an email from the head of the department asking me to introduce Alison Stine.
Alison Stine is a poet who has had two full-length collections and one chapbook published. For my Advanced Poetry course, we read her book Ohio Violence, which I enjoyed. Though I was honored that my poetry professor had thought to refer me for this task, I was also very nervous! I still don’t feel as if I’m very articulate when discussing poetry, and I felt like I had no idea what or how much to say. Thankfully, the introduction started to shape up when I began thinking about my personal connection with Stine. Stine, particularly with her first collection, explores some teenage female experience, and in interviews, had really embraced a young readership. I loved that. I, too, write about young female experiences. In my collection for Advanced Poetry right now, I sometimes examine figures of teenage pop culture (Nick Jonas, Corbin Bleu, etc.). Other poems are inspired by my experiences, as a teenager and as a young adult, of trying to measure up to standards of what a “good Christian girl” should be. These aren’t necessarily the topics poetry critics are always interested in—but Stine’s work reminds me that I don’t need to write for them and that these youthful experiences can be imbued with beautiful language and complexity. Finding this connection allowed me to tap into a passion that I think, judging by some of the comments I received after the reading, really came across in my introduction.
Because I was introducing Alison Stine, I was invited to go to a dinner before the reading with her and some of the Creative Writing faculty at BJ’s. This was a bit nerve-wracking for me because I’m not the most extroverted person. However, I think it went well. I also was able to bring a friend with me (who is much more extroverted than me fortunately), which made it more comfortable.
This scenario, along with this whole semester, has led me to reflect more on what it might be like to pursue poetry professionally. Though I’ve been growing more and more comfortable considering myself a “poet” as my time at Susquehanna goes on, I think this semester I have spent much more time imagining being a professional poet as a possibility. One day—possibly—I could be the person giving a reading and being introduced by a student. Over winter break, I plan on going through the poetry I’ve written for my Advanced and Intermediate poetry workshops and finding poems I think might be ready to be sent out to magazines. In the world of poetry, you usually need a number of poems published before you can pursue chapbook-length or book-length publication, so this is an important step.
I have one poem that is forthcoming in an issue of a small journal called the Saint Katherine Review, which I look forward to seeing in print. Last year, my Intermediate Poetry professor recommended the journal as a place to submit one of my poems. The editor of the review is Scott Cairns. Just recently I picked up some of his poetry from the library, and I am loving it so far! He tackles religious and spiritual subject matter in a beautiful way. It’s exciting to know that someone whose work I admire has read my work--and it's particularly exciting to think about a future where there may be many more people who read my work (even if that poetry audience is quite smaller than fiction or nonfiction's).