Native Michigander shares experiences through poetry

Laura Kasischke spoke as the honorary guest poet during the 26th Maurice Brown Memorial Poetry Reading Oct. 22.

Maurice Brown was a professor at OU, who passed away in 1985. He had a passion for poetry, according to creative writing department head and professor Ed Hoeppner. The annual reading is dedicated to Brown’s literary hopes for the university.

Kasischke, who was raised in Grand Rapids, currently teaches in the Master’s of Fine Arts program at the University of Michigan and is both a poet and fiction writer. She has eight poetry books published and nine books of fiction.

“It’s kind of cliché about poets, that poets walk around with a novel in them, but I’ll tell you it’s often a bad novel,” Hoeppner said during the event. “It’s strange to encounter a writer like Laura, who is a prodigy, a genuine star in both poetry and fiction.”

Kasischke read poems from her various works and showcased her spectrum of inspiration, life experiences from fatal car crashes to having a pair of dirty shoes stolen from a gym locker room.

She shared stories and thoughts between her 14 poems and encouraged the crowd in the Gold Rooms, composed mostly of professors and students in the English department, to pick up a pen and write.

“When I have friends that have something unusual happen, I think, ‘That’s too bad you’re not a writer,’” she said. “If you’re walking down the street, and a brick falls on your head, and you’re not a writer, you’re just a person who had a brick fall on their head.

“If that happened to you, and you weren’t a writer, you’d just be complaining.”

Kasischke said she never sits down with the intent to write a poem, it just happens through brainstorming sessions, in which she adheres to everyday, if possible.

“I try to write everyday. Some days I don’t, but it’s like vegetables – you know you should have,” she said.

Select copies of Kasischke’s work will be available in the Barnes & Noble bookstore for a limited time.