Photo: Connor McCourtney
About 20 Drake University students and faculty members gathered in Cowle’s Library Reading Room Tuesday to listen to the readings and stories of Award winning poet Keetje Kuipers. She read from her debut book of poetry “Beautiful in the Mouth.”
During her stay, she has met with students and talked with Kruse and Perrine’s classes.
Perrine reminded students to enter the Periphery Flash Fiction contest online. Kruse gave her friend Kuipers a welcoming introduction by listing her awards and achievements and referred to Kuipers’ writing as “arresting and beautiful.”
Kuipers has lived the ‘writer’s life’ by living in Oregon, Montana, New York, Paris and now resides in San Francisco.
Kuipers started the evening off with “Remembering Our Last Night in New York.” She explained that many of her poems take place on different landscapes. “Beautiful in the Mouth” has a contrast between urban and rural settings. The book of poems is set mainly in New York, Montana and Oregon.
“I feel kind of schizophrenic when I read from this collection,” Kuipers said.
While Kuipers poems do cover a portion of the United States and stories, and they have a common thread of “loss” throughout the poems.
“I thought her writing was really beautiful and the way she read her poetry was just as much a part of her as is her writing,” said sophomore Sarah Zielinski.
Kuipers answered questions at the end of her reading and advised the audience on the struggles she had with her poetry before she finally had success in her writing. Her first experience with poetry was during her senior year of high school and fell in love with poetry when she read “Awake” by Dorianne Laux.
“I was terrible for years and years,” Kuipers said. She went on to explain that poetry was what she loved the most and eventually began to master the craft. She ended her reading with her favorite poem of the collection, “Fourth of July.”
Kuipers is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, one of the most prestigious creative writing awards and winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. She has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Oregon Literary Arts and Soapstone. Kuipers was the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident in 2007.
Kuipers’ poems have appeared in “Prairie Schooner,” “West Branch,” “Painted Bride Quarterly,” “Willow Springs” and “AGNI.” She has been nominated five years in a row for the Pushcart Prize.
“She can serve as a great role model for aspiring poets,” said Perrine, “she talked about her success, but it can come with time.”
The next presentation for the Writer’s and Critics Series will be The Bareness of the Face: Latino Encounters in Iowa, via South Africa presented by Jane Juffer. Juffer is an Associate Professor at Cornell University and Drake University alum.