Poet Catherine Pierce shares her work with aspiring writers

On March 23, the English department held a night of Poetry-in-the-Round where poet Catherine Pierce came to share some of her poems. Pierce, a professor at Mississippi State, has written three collections of poems to date. In these collections, Pierce constructs a narrative that focuses on major themes.

“Each of my books has had some sort of thematic thread, some more explicitly than others,” Pierce said.

Joey Khan/Photography and Digital Editor

The main book that she read from, The Tornado Is the World, centers on an EF-4 tornado and the effects it has on a midwest town.

“These themes are personal to me in some way—I don’t think I could write about something in which I didn’t have a personal stake,” Pierce said.

During the event, Pierce explained her life in the midwest and how being a mother has shifted her focus and helped shape some of her poems. After publishing her first book of poetry in 2004, Pierce still has a strong drive to write.

“I’m drawn to the craft element of making poems, the actual building process, the maddening and satisfying puzzle of trying to shape language into meaning,” Pierce said. In addition to writing new poetry, Pierce also serves as a co-director of the creative writing program at Mississippi State.

Students in attendance explained their appreciation for the author’s style.

Catherine Pierce shared advice and her poetry at Poetry-in-the-Round. Joey Khan/Photography and Digital Editor.

Melanie Weir, a junior creative writing and theater double -major, enjoyed Pierce’s writing so much that she purchased one of her books.

“I really liked how she took such big, complex ideas and wrote about them in an elegant manner,” Weir said. “I usually don’t find poetry as interesting as I did [at this event]. These poems did not need a lot of explaining and that made them easily accessible.”

Annie Madden, a junior visual and sound media and creative writing double-major, had a personal appreciation for Pierce’s work.

“I am from the midwest, and I’ve been through a couple tornadoes. It was interesting to see a tornado handled in such an elegant way,” Madden said.

In addition to sharing her work with aspiring writers, Pierce also gave some advice to potential writers.

“My No.1 advice is to read. There’s just no way to be the best writer you can be if you’re not actively reading the work of other writers, seeing what’s out there [and] studying that craft,” she explained.

Zachary Wohl can be reached at zachary.wohl@student.shu.edu.

Author: Zachary Wohl

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