Book Festival Archives - 2010 - 2015

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2015 Book Festival Author
Karla Huston

Award-winning poet Karla Huston is the author of the poetry collection A Theory of Lipstick (2013), the chapbook Outside of a Dog (2013), and several other chapbooks of poetry. Her poem "Theory of Lipstick" was awarded a Pushcart Prize and appeared in The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses (2012).

Huston will try to bring people around to poetry when she visits the Fox Cities Book Festival this year. “My presentation is meant to be a soft sell for poetry reading—and poetry writing,” says Huston. “Many people will say that they hate poetry and/or see no purpose in it or they don't understand it. My goal is to dispel some of that thinking. It's true that reading poetry can be difficult but it's more than worth the effort.”

Huston fell in love with poetry as a college student and never looked back. “I came to poetry writing through 'attempting' to write fiction. I know that sounds odd, but it's true. I'd taken a creative writing class in 1994 through the continuing education department at UW Fox. After a three-year stint earning a teaching degree in English at UW-Oshkosh, I wanted to try to write something other than academic papers. I thought I was going to write short stories—and I have. But I fell in love with contemporary poetry through the models provided as writing prompts. One assignment was to write a poem of a certain number of syllables per line and in a limited number of lines. I was entranced! I loved the play of word and sound, and the assignment's limitations made me think about the 'right words in the right order' (this is a loose paraphrase of quotation by Coleridge). I was hooked!”

She knows poetry can be a tough sell these days. “First, where might one find a poem to read? Few magazines include poetry; even fewer newspapers. There are lots of online sources, but one must be motivated to look for them. Second, poetry is also perceived as difficult. But I don't believe that to be true. There are as many kinds of poems as there are readers. Contemporary poems can be esoteric, it's true, but many of them are accessible and understandable. Reading a poem requires readers to take time, to read more slowly, to break from that fast pace. Reading poetry can be a kind of deep breathing, a meditation, a way to slow down and listen to that inner voice, to listen to those things one might miss. Perhaps William Carlos Williams said it best, 'It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there.' (which is from Asphodel, That Greeny Flower)," she explains.

Huston earned a Bachelor's degree in Education: English and a Master's degree in English, with Creative Writing emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She teaches poetry writing workshops at The Mill: a Place for Writers in Appleton, Wisconsin.

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