In the fifth and final installment of my National Poetry Month interview series with Norbert Krapf, he discusses his favorite up and coming poets.
I want to mention four favorite women writers with whom I have a connection.
The first is Oklahoma native Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, who is a bit older than the others. Jeanetta went to college near the age of forty and went straight through her BA and MA at University of Texas, Permian Basin, then took a PhD at the University of Oklahoma. Around the time that she finished her graduate work, her first full-length collection, Work Is Love Made Visible, appeared and has been the triple winner of the Western Heritage, Oklahoma Book, and WILLA awards. I can’t remember a reading a better, more moving and powerful first full-length poetry collection of our age. Also, it’s relevant to point out that Jeanetta has for several years been running Mongrel Empire Press, which gives up and coming writers a chance to get their work published. Indiana readers may be interested to learn that Jeanetta descends from the Lenape Chief Anderson after whom the Indiana city not far from Indianapolis is named.
Second is Kelsea Habecker, whose first collection, Hollow Out, was selected by former U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic as the winner of the Many Voices Project Award published by New Rivers Press. I discovered her work when my wife pointed out her “Day of the Dead” art installation tribute to Emily Dickinson at the Indianapolis Art Center two years ago last fall. I Googled her name, learned that she is also a poet, and found she had won this award. We traded collections and I love her work. I go on a writing spree every time I reread those poems set in an Inupiaq village in Alaska where she taught for five years. I helped set up a reading for her at the Writers’ Center of Indiana, gave the introduction, and did a “call and response” reading with her at Perk Up in Broad Ripple before she moved back to Alaska.
The third is Stefanie Lipsey, a school librarian, young poet, and mother from Long Island. We got to know one another as part of the poetry scene on what I call “Walt’s Island” after she wrote to me about my collection of Long Island poems, Bittersweet Along the Expressway. She recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Queens College, published an inspirational prose book about how to unleash your creativity to write poems, Sound Cliff, and will, I am sure, before long have a book of excellent poems published. Stefanie is a fine reader of her own poems, as I know from having her read in the C.W. Post Poetry Center (of Long Island University) series that I directed.
And fourth, I want to mention Christie Cooke, my former student who came to the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, along with two other young women from the Navajo reservation in eastern Arizona, on a volleyball scholarship. In her senior year, Christie took a class with me on American Poetry to 1900 and then did an independent study memoir-writing project with me on “Growing Up Navajo” that should one day be published as a book. She has also published, on www.reznetnews.org, a moving and powerful series of short essays about being a single mother of two beautiful young children, Emma and Edward. This series, too, could become a book, or part of a longer book. Christie got an MFA in creative non-fiction from the University of Arizona. I recently had the pleasure of reading my poems in one of her classes at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. Christie, a lover of poetry, which shows in the prose she writes, had read and discussed some of my poems with these students. It was such a pleasure to be introduced by her and see how well respected and loved she is by her students. My recent Sweet Sister Moon includes a cycle of thirteen poems about Christie and her family.
I know we will be hearing more about these fine women writers whom I am lucky to know. They inspire me. I know they will carry on the tradition. I have faith in them and their writing.
Norbert Krapf was Professor of English at Long Island University from 1970 to 2004. He is is author of Invisible Presence, Bloodroot, and the fortchoming poetry collection Songs in Sepia and Black and White. To learn more about Norbert's work, visit his website.