Abigail Zimmer English Creative Writing alum returns to her alma mater for a reading hosted by English Fest. Wisconsin native Abigail is a poet who lives and works in Chicago, IL. She is the author of “Girls Their Tongues” a collection of poetry and two Chapbooks, one called “Child in a Winter House Brightening.”
She begins the reading with a poem by Eve L. Ewing, “Arrival Day”. She says that she does “this to add a different voice other than her own to her readings.” She then proceeds to read from her new book of poems called “Girls Their Tongues.” A lot of the poems in this collection seem to come from observations that Abigail makes in her daily life. One of which is titled “Russian Grandmother Kills Wolf With Bare Hands & Axe” which was titled after a headline that she saw. Another poem titled “On the Train Seventeen People I don’t Love” is from her ride into work by train, which as she said, “is where I do most of my writing.”
The poems are very beautifully written, and in themselves were wonderful to hear. Abigail also stays well engaged with the audience during the course of the readings. She makes jokes and presents observations that she has made to the people that were able to attend the reading despite the bad weather.
She then goes on to read from her Chapbook “Child in a Winter House Brightening” which was “designed and screen printed by Jess McIntosh another UWEC Alumni” and handbound by another one of Abigail’s friends in Colorado, who operates Treelight books. Where Abigail “uses the fable of the ugly duckling, revisits it, revises it, and renews it, and revitalizes it,” as Blake Westerlund states in his introduction.
The Question and Answer section was also very insightful. The first question by Blake Westerlund was “Is that what kind of inspires you when navigating Chicago? Some of these natural references?”
Abigail responds, “Where there are green spaces I definitely notice them.” So, in other words the aspect of nature is definitely a great influence into her writing.
Abigail also responded to a few other questions during this time; one answer which I found rather useful was her response to a question about her descriptions. She went on to explain that she had had a professor that made her and her classmates write what they saw, excluding the “I” when writing them, so that they were simply describing what was happening in front of them. She says that she still continues to do this exercise every day. This is good advice to those that want to write, to write everyday even if it is just the things that you see.
All in all the Abigail Zimmer Reading and Q&A was phenomenal. The poetry was beautifully read, and beautifully written. I also believe, as an English Creative Writing student, that the Q&A was very much insightful as well. Everything that she had to say about her process is essentially everything that I have had to do in my own writing classes. So basically, you take what you have learned here at the University and apply what works best for your own personal style. One such example that really stuck out to me is the title of the above-mentioned poem “Russian Grandmother Kills Wolf With Bare Hands & Axe” being a title of an article that she saw. This reminds me of a writing assignment where we were meant to write a story based off of a tabloid headline. Also, she said she had a professor who assigned her to “write twenty sentences a day for a semester, writing observations, excluding the ‘I’.” Which is another great thing in my opinion of writing even if you do not know what to write about. If you would like to learn more about Abigail Zimmer, or purchase her books, you can navigate to her website at http://abigailzimmer.tumblr.com.