Author shares poetry inspired by her past

Kristy Mason

Every seat in a small Cherry Hall room was filled Tuesday night for a reading of author Kimberly M. Blaeser.

Blaeser, an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, came to Western to read her Native American poetry.

Blaeser is one of several authors that the English department’s creative writing committee will bring to speak this semester.

David Lenoir, an English professor and a member of the committee, said he met Blaeser at an event last spring and he quickly asked if she would read for Western students.

“The creative writing committee is gracious with a fund for students to hear work by the author in person, rather than simply reading the words on the paper,” he said. “It adds so much more depth in person.”

Students who attended the reading Tuesday night came for different reasons.

Terry Cawthorn, a graduate student from Bowling Green said Blaeser came to his class and he became interested in her poetry.

Elizabethtown junior Travis Bowman said he wanted some inspiration for his poetry.

“I’m a young poet,” he said. “The flier got me interested and I’m looking to improve my work any way I can.”

Others, like Nashville freshman Nathan AndersonCQ just went because they had to.

“I’m only here for the extra credit in Padgett’s freshman English class,” he said.

The main focus of Blaeser’s poetry was her ethnic background. She was raised on White Earth reservation. During her childhood, her family moved to Mahnomen in northwestern Minnesota.

She said living on the reservation inspired her work. She has written over 60 anthologies and journals and founded a multicultural writer’s organization.

“There are so many voices in our country that have been suppressed so I try to reach out their message,” she said during the reading. “When you grow up on a reservation there are rituals that become a part of your life, and when they’re gone, you can only reach back to it in memory.”

During the reading, Blaeser used a variety of ways of showcasing her work, which included singing her poems.

“A lot of native literature is so significant with sound it can easily be linked with poetry,” she said.

After the reading ended, the crowd remained to purchase her published books and to get her autograph.

Blaeser said she was pleased with the turnout and felt the crowd was very polite.

Students, like Beattyville freshman Savannah Sipple had good things to say about the poet when the reading was over.

“It was very inspirational for people that aspire to be creative writers and poets,”she said.

Nashville freshman Amanda Schneider said she benefited from hearing the works of someone with a different background.

“I think she gives a good sense of place to Western culture even though she is from a different background,” Schneider said. “She teaches you to see the importance in everyday things.”

Blaeser is currently working on a collection of poems about the Anishnaabe, an Indian tribe in Canada. She said she wants people to continue to have different perspectives in her poetry.

“You can’t rewrite the past, but you do your small part to change the future,” she said.

Reach Kristy L. Mason at [email protected]