Outlandish poetry fills prof’s new book

It is no secret that Catie Rosemurgy, assitant professor of English, loves words.

She teaches courses in creative writing and poetry and acts as the faculty advisor for ‘ink,’ the College’s student writers organization. Rosemurgy is also in the process of writing her second book of poetry.

The title of the upcoming volume is “The Stranger Manuel” and features a recurring character named Miss Peach. Miss Peach has some problems fitting in with the good, upstanding people of her town.

Because the book is still in the writing stage, Rosemurgy says she can’t pin an overall theme to the collection.

“I think it might be about the advantages and disadvantages of belonging to a community, what it means to belong versus to be left out,” Rosemurgy said. “But that might be what I want it to be about and really it’s about something else, like shopping or how I feel about the weather. I hope I’m a little bit right, though, about the community angle.”

For her first poetry collection, “My Favorite Apocalypse,” published by Graywolf Press in 2001, Rosemurgy received a Rona Jaffe Award for Emerging Female Writers.

Most recently, her work has appeared in the anthologies “Isn’t It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Young American Poets” and “Poetry 30,” a collection of work by American poets in their 30s.

In its review of “My Favorite Apocalypse,” the Southern Indiana Review wrote that “anyone who claims to love poetry and isn’t seduced by this book within a handful of pages is either a liar or in a deep, dreamless, tuneless coma.”

The review also said that Rosemurgy “writes some of the best lines in contemporary poetry.”

Regarding her upcoming book, Rosemurgy says she would like her readers to come away with “the sense of being caught up in contradictory feelings, like laughter and sadness, for example.”

Readers of “My Favorite Apocalypse” should expect to sense a stylistic shift in the poems of “The Stranger Manuel.”

“The poems in the first book were realistic; they were about things that could really happen,” Rosemurgy said.

“These poems are about a character who is a peach and who lives in the woods half the time – which is to say the poems are more about being outlandish and cartoon-ish,” she said. “They work more through metaphor.”

Though Rosemurgy may seem to make the writing process appear simple, even prize-winning poets face challenges.

“Writing this book has taken longer than maybe I would have liked, but the worst thing would be to hurry it. There’s no finish line. My poems tend to evolve very slowly and this book, like the first one, is more of a sequence of interrelated poems than many poetry collections,” she said. “So much of the time is in following the connections between poems and seeing how they fit together.”

As for the motivation behind her writing, Rosemurgy says, “I am drawn to poetry because poems first and foremost are about the pleasure of language, so it’s usually some catch or slip or strange new tone in a bit of language that gets my wheels turning.”

Rosemurgy received her Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from the University of Alabama.

She is involved with a variety of writing-related campus programs, such as the Visiting Writers Series, the Student Reading Series and The Goods, the College’s biannual celebration of student art.

Prospective and current creative writing students take note: Rosemurgy said, “I like to see poems that surprise me and challenge me, that make me have to sit up and pay attention.”