Meijer Visiting Writers Series brings Grand Rapids author, poet


Author Laura Kasischke's speaks before her Meijer Visiting Writers series presentation March 14 in the Baber room in the Charles V. Park Library.  

The Charles V. Park Baber Room was almost full of attendees for fiction writer and poet Laura Kasischke, who was invited to Central Michigan University for the Meijer Visiting Writers Series at 8 p.m. March 14.

Kasischke is an American fiction writer, poet and the author of the novels "Suspicious River," "The Life Before Her Eyes" and "White Bird in a Blizzard," which have been adapted to film. She works as an Allan Seager Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature in the Residential College at the University of Michigan.

Kasischke read from her poem "Swan Logic." Her inspiration for the poem came from two real separate events involving a swan massacre and a drunk driving accident caused by a mother that killed her children, niece and a nephew. 

“I think she likes making magical realism," Riverdale senior Robin Bixler said. “Her work is a little on the darker side, but she is extremely interesting and real.”

The second poem Kasischke read from was called "Stolen Shoes," a poem inspired by a time someone stole her old sneakers while she was working out at the gym. She believes a young woman at her gym stole them. After the incident she told the audience that she began to yell “everybody lock up her shoes” every time she saw the suspect.

Members of the audience responded to her readings with laughter and gasps. 

“I liked her personality and the way she read her work; it was so funny,” said Macomb sophomore Shelby Koski.

Kasischke spoke about how her family influence her darker comedic style of writing about crime, real life and fictional events.

“I have always liked the dark,” she said. “I have always been drawn to dark tragedies and comedies. One of my earliest memories is walking down the streets of Grand Rapids and my grandma pointing out a field and saying this is where this guy murdered his wife.” 

English language and literature faculty Matthew Roberson enjoyed listening to her fiction writing and the advice she gave young writers.

She read from many parts of her works in progress, ranging from topics addressing social unrest, sexuality, everyday stress and encounters, decapitation and murder. English language and literature faculty Darrin Doyle thought it was beneficial for students to hear from an established author “works in progress.”

Kasischke expressed during the question and answer session that she originally wanted to become a journalist, but she fell in love with poetry. She told the audience that poetry is both her favorite and most stressful form of writing she practices. She said the only thing fiction and poetry have in common are words.

Kasischke concluded the event with advice for students struggling with writer’s block.

“The reason you write is the same reason you get writers block,” Kasischke said. “It’s because of the desire to write something miraculous. So just know that it happens to everyone. My only tip is to carry around a little notebook and write everything down and live the writer’s life an observe things.”