Tess Gallagher inspires creativity and resilience in writing

Kaitlin Cho, A&E Reporter

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On Thursday, Oct. 3, poet Tess Gallagher came onto the Kimball Theatre stage to read numerous poems from her most recent book, “Is, Is Not”, and speak about her inspirations, travels and personal stories. 

“It was incredible,” sophomore Miller Hammond said. “There was someone during the Q&A who talked about how diverse her poetry is in style, which was something that also really stood out to me.”

Senior Clara Collins spoke about her appreciation for the context Gallagher puts into her writing.

“For example, the poem she read about her and her father,” Collins said. “She gives some context there about what he did for a living and what her life was like in college, which I thought was interesting because she could’ve left it more vague, but I think had she done that, it wouldn’t have been as moving as it was.”

Before reading out her poetry, Gallagher talked about her past experiences teaching poetry classes at Whitman from 1996 to 1997. She called it “the highlight of all my teaching across America.” She said “how ardent” the Whitman students she taught were. Of her colleagues at the college, she said, “I never had better.”

After thanking various members of the Whitman community and her late Irish companion, Josie Gray, Gallagher began to read her poetry. Nearly every poem she read was accompanied by a story about what inspired or influenced its creation, such as the sight of the moon reflected in a river (Gallagher described to the audience how “it was all broken up into little slivers, and it was shimmering”) or her time living in the Irish countryside.

After an hour, Gallagher concluded the event by answering questions from the audience and signing books.

During the Q&A portion of her reading, Gallagher spoke about many topics, from the significance of loneliness in her creative process to the importance of “sticking with” the craft of writing.

Gallagher’s graceful writing, vast experiences and honesty in and outside of her work resulted in an enlightening and inspiring experience for the audience sitting before her.

“Tess’s writing is filled with heart, with the solace of the sea and with the wisdom only gained through a lifetime of sustained and empathetic close-observation,” said Director of the Visiting Writers Reading Series and Creative Writing Professor Katrina Roberts. “I’m so grateful to Whitman College and our sponsors for making such an instructive, generative and celebratory occasion possible.”

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