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A way with words

NMU student turns to poetry for expression

March 25, 2012
By JOHANNA BOYLE - Journal Ishpeming Bureau (jboyle@miningjournal.net) , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - For Northern Michigan University junior Katie Sullivan, poetry is more than a series of lines on a piece of paper - it's a unique form of communication.

"I think it's important because you can express a lot of things in poetry you can't express in other ways," she said. "It's a way to express what you're feeling in a creative way."

Originally from Trimountain, near Houghton, the 21-year-old writing major has felt a connection with written verse since childhood, and hopes one day to publish a book of her work.

Article Photos

Northern Michigan University Junior Katie Sullivan is an avid poet, who has published in “The Lightkeeper,” an online publication organized by students and faculty to showcase the work of undergraduate writers at Northern Michigan University.

"My parents read to us a lot when we were little," Sullivan said. "I just had a knack for it."

After winning a poetry competition in the third grade, Sullivan said she began to write regularly in the fifth or sixth grade.

"I used to write a little bit of fiction, but for the past year I've focused on poetry," she said.

Fact Box

FIVE TWENTY-TWO

November comes in calm

with leaves on muddy shoes,

her cobweb mouth sewn shut

on teeth like dusty coffee cups.

She follows moth wing

lamps down Fourth and Fair

with sighing steps, a pocket

full of silver coins for sockets

needing Monday eyes.

November stutters prayers

to Paul McCartney, seen through

diamond wedding rings

above the crosswalks.

She thanks tea leaf

tables, palms, and fingernails

long before she leaves

the basement at St. Mark's.

November comes in calm

with bloodshot eyes

and shakes the roots of cedar

trees from hair just like her father's.

- Katie Sullivan

Sullivan's poems are usually written in blank verse - the lines don't rhyme - with her words focusing on descriptions or references to nature, Greek mythology and her own life.

"(My poetry) is just about things that happen in my life," she said. "I think nature is really inspiring, so I do write about that a lot."

Among her favorite subjects are those dealing with images of trees or water, as well as horseback riding. Sullivan's own horse is named Macintosh, who she has had for 13 years.

"Being outside was a big part of my childhood. I spent a lot of time climbing trees and swimming in Lake Superior and all that," she said.

As a writing major, Sullivan has chosen to concentrate her classes on poetry, this semester taking a poetry seminar course and a course that studies poetry as a genre.

"We read from an anthology of famous poets like Keats, Donne and Dickinson, to name a few. My other class is a poetry seminar where we bring in poems that we've written and workshop them in small groups and as a class," she said.

Originally a music major focusing on the flute, Sullivan decided to change majors after her freshman year.

"I went to the next thing that I liked and that seemed to be where I fit in," she said.

As she moves forward with her own work, Sullivan said she also takes inspiration from some of her favorite poets. One constant favorite has been Edgar Allan Poe, the author of classic poems like "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee." Recently, however, Sullivan said she has been reading works by Sylvia Plath, another American poet wrote in the first half of the 1900s.

Progressing through her courses at Northern, Sullivan said she has also started submitting her own work to publications and contests. In February, one of her poems, titled "Maybe in Paris" was published in "The Lightkeeper," an online publication organized by students and faculty to showcase the work of undergraduate writers at Northern Michigan University. The poem can be read online at nmulightkeeper.com.

In the future, Sullivan said she hopes to have a book of her work published and is thinking of teaching as a possible career.

But first, she hopes to spend time traveling abroad.

"I want to move to Europe - maybe Ireland or France - and live there for a while and experience a different culture," she said. "I want it to broaden my horizons."

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is jboyle@miningjournal.net

 
 

 

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