Visiting artist Kathleen Rooney cracks jokes, teaches poetry

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Staff Writer

Though the Wiekamp Hall third floor bridge has a reasonable amount of seating – enough for 40 or 50 people – almost every seat was full when IU South Bend hosted author and poet Kathleen Rooney March 25.

Rooney is the founder of Rose Metal press, which publishes “fused” or “hybrid genres” of writing and is an accomplished essayist, poet and typewriter and perfume collector.

“Come smell me,” she said to the audience while reading her essay, “On Learning the Alphabet of Scent and Intention.”

She received many giggles as she giggled back.

A well traveled writer, Rooney said she likes to, “travel places big and small,” but that she takes a, “quality opposed to quantity,” approach to audiences. So, she said, she loves the small town readings more.

Before the reading, she informed those in attendance that she likes to take pictures of her audiences, and that the best word to say instead of smile is “Thursday,” because it makes a “sexy duck-face.” She then posts pictures of the audience on her social media accounts, she said.

Though she holds many titles in the world of writing and publishing she said that her favorite title is poet, because it has been “the most constant” in her life, though she insisted that she loves all genres. She said for someone starting to read poetry, she recommends “Beauty Was the Case that They Gave Me,” by Mark Leidner.

She also talked a lot about her friend, Elisa Gabbert, and recommended her book “The French Exit.”

Of course, she didn’t hesitate to promote herself and her book “Robinson Alone,” which she described as a collection of poems that turn into a novel. Rooney’s most recent work “O, Democracy!” is now available for sale as well.

She sold many of her chapbooks which she read from that night. What she liked about them, other than the writing, was the, “attention to detail.”

She spoke about her love for books as beautiful objects, and talked about the different ribbons and colored pages that make each chapbook slightly different than the others.

Her interactions with the audience were filled with laughter and long, contemplative silence. Most times, her audience smiled, and occasionally, Rooney and the audience seemed to be holding each other’s gaze, captivated, both lost in the poetry.

*Editor’s note:  In the story “Visiting artist Kathleen Rooney cracks jokes, teaches poetry,” In the April 1 edition of The Preface, it was written that Rooney’s visit was a part of the Raclin School of the Arts Visiting Lecture Series. Rooney, in fact, was not visiting IU South Bend as part of that series. We apologize for the confusion.

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