Poet in residence: Laura Kasischke

Nicole Yeager, News Editor

On the evening of Feb. 4, poet and novelist Laura Kasischke presented a poetry reading in Bucknell Hall. As the first guest of the Stadler Center Writer Series this semester, curated by Professor of English G.C. Waldrep, Kasischke also participated in a book-signing and a Q&A session. Each year, the Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts hosts this series in an effort to broaden the University’s scope into the larger literary world.

In addition to being a writer in the series, Kasischke is also the current Poet-in-Residence at the University. This program predates the Stadler Center itself, as it was initiated in 1981, and has since brought over 30 distinguished poets to campus. These poets stay for an extended period of time, during which they give public readings as well as meet individually with qualified students. The purpose of the program is to “engage students with writers outside of the Bucknell community who have experience in the writing world and are well established,” Chet’la Sebree, director of the Stadler Center, said.

Laura Kasischke was born in Grand Rapids, Mich. She attended the University of Michigan for her undergraduate years, receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree. Kasischke briefly moved to New York to attend Columbia University before returning to her home state with her husband and son, where she currently acts as a professor in the MFA program at her alma mater.

Throughout her career, Kasischke has written and published over 10 novels and 10 poetry books. Some of her most notable novels are “Suspicious River,” “White Bird in a Blizzard,” “In a Perfect World,” and “The Life Before Her Eyes,” which was adapted into an American thriller film starring Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood in 2007. Among her most esteemed books of poetry are “Wild Brides,” “Fire and Flower,” “The Infinitesimals” and “Space, in Chains.” Her works have won her numerous awards, including the Juniper Prize, the Beatrice Hawley Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and fellowships from the National Education Association and the Guggenheim Foundation.

For Kasischke’s reading, the pews of Bucknell Hall were filled with students and faculty. Many of the students had been encouraged to attend by various creative writing professors, making for a diverse audience. A number of professors within the creative writing department, as well as faculty who work at the Stadler Center or the Writing Center, also made up a percentage of the crowd.

The reading was opened by Sebree before Kasischke was introduced by Noah Baldino, one of the 2019-20 Stadler Fellows. “Unburdened by straight narrative logic or human chronology, Kasischke’s work attends to a domesticity fraught with mortality… surfaced alongside and within the ordinary… with mysterious, sensate sentences and atmospheres, with turns and images visceral as a catheter,” Baldino said of her writing.

“It’s nice to have poetry readings on campus because it gives us students a chance to escape from our typical college lives and appreciate writing as an art in a way that some of us might not have done before,” Kalie Yuen ’22 said.

In the reading, Kasischke read 20 poems from “Where Now: New and Selected Poems.” Many of her pieces talk about common – and seemingly unimportant – events or stories to convey deeper meanings about grief, relationships, and self-growth.

For those who were unable to attend the reading on Tuesday evening or the Q&A session on Thursday, an audio recording of the event will be made accessible online at the Stadler Center’s website, while Kasischke’s works are available for purchase at the bookstore.

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