2010 Festival Poet: Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Posted on by Dodge

Stacey Balkun, Festival Assistant

NEZ bio photoA graduate of Ohio State University’s MFA program for both poetry and creative non-fiction, Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of Miracle Fruit, At the Drive In Volcano, and a forthcoming collection from Tupelo Press.  A dynamic poet, Nezhukumatathil is active in both the worlds of teaching and touring—she has set out “to make sure that no student ever says ‘I never knew there were Asian-American poets’ again” (every other day).  Through poetry, she shares her life experiences in a way that is accessible to readers of all ages.  Nezhukumatathil feels that her teaching and writing influence each other: her best teaching days lead her to write, and her best writing days excite her to teach (How a Poem Happens).

Nature plays a huge role in Nezhukumatathil’s poetry.  Her poetry often examines life by linking “average” occurrences with scientific or biological information (see “Fugu Soup Blues” and “Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia”).  Much of Nezhukumatathil’s work is research-based, and every one of the many morsels about science or natural elements is true.  Nezhukumatathil feels she owes the reader accuracy within her poetry; although the poems are not truly autobiographical, the “trivia” bits are completely factual.  She often uses biology as a jumpstart when writing poems.  In an interview with Poetic Asides, she confides, “Mother Nature is the greatest poet of all. I just take my cues from her.”

Nezhukumatathil teaches creative writing and environmental literature at the State University of New York-Fredonia.  She encourages aspiring writers to “read often and a lot. Floss. Invest in a good pair of shoes and write letters more often. Listen to the paper take the ink when you sign your name” (Poetic Asides).  Read poems by Aimee Nezhukumatathil on 2nd Avenue Poetry and Octopus Magazine.  Hear her poetry and Q&A’s on From the Fishhouse.

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Return in the weeks ahead as we continue to profile the 2010 Festival Poets.

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