Student awarded fellowship at nature institute


A Central Michigan University creative writing student has been awarded an opportunity to spend the summer doing what she loves.

The Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings has awarded Perry senior Courtney Kalmbach the Nature in Words Fellowship for her proposal on ecopoetry. She will spend 12 weeks at the institute working on a written body of work and will receive, according to the institute's website, a $3,500 stipend, along with housing and partial meal support.

"Nature is really present in my work already, and it just made sense to me to apply for it, because it sounded like a dream. I was reading the application and everything involved and thought ‘Is this really something that’s out there?'" she said. "This is going to affect the way I write for the entirety of my life, I think."

Kalmbach said ecopoetry was an emerging field. It is different from nature poetry, which celebrates nature, in that it examines the relationship between humans and nature.

"It suggests an environmental movement, and it’s sort of activism in poetry," she said.

Kalmbach will be at the institute with students of different fields and will, for example, be able to mingle with biology students there to conduct observations or experiments.

Professor Robert Fanning will be serving as Kalmbach's faculty mentor.

"I’ll probably meet with her a couple times out at the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, and then we’ll email critiques back and forth of her work," he said. "It’ll be a terrific opportunity for her to be able to sit amongst nature, within nature and work on her poems."

Fanning said Kalmbach would be bringing some of what she will write back into the community to share at her old elementary, middle and high schools.

"I think that’s vital, because, at least in my view of poetry and I’m sure Courtney’s too, that the act of writing is a solitary process, but once the poem has been written, it’s meant to be shared, so that’s extremely important that what she discovers, she will share," he said.

Kalmbach is the second student to be awarded the fellowship, Fanning said. Last year, a student from Alma College won.

Kalmbach said she was ecstatic when she found she would be awarded the fellowship.

"I haven't been able to wean myself off of my professor’s criticism yet, and I think that’s what the whole experience is supposed to fulfill within a student is that being able to do that independently and knowing for yourself whether or not it’s been edited enough or not," she said.


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