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Poetic Justice

By Charles Spencer

Kaitie O'Hare

(Photo: Jeff Watts)

The first time Kaitie O’Hare ’12 submitted her poem “Giacomo Died When I Was One” to American Literary she got a surprise.

It was rejected.

Ditto on the second try.

But then the editors reconsidered and the poem made it in. It went on to win best in show for poetry in the spring 2011 issue of the student-run literary magazine.

O’Hare, who is the magazine’s coeditor, got another surprise when she learned that her poem would be included in  Bennington College’s national anthology of the best undergraduate writing. The work of two other AU students, Colin Crane ‘11 (photo: “Home Sweet Home”) and Emma Conlon ‘14 (digital drawing: Fish), will be in the anthology, as well.

O’Hare got the news that her poem would be included in the anthology on a beautiful fall day, she recalled.

“I lost it,” she said, when she was notified by e-mail. She left the office and “sat in the park in the sunshine and drank champagne. It was great. It was the best day ever.”

Said the Office of Campus Life’s Adell Crowe, the magazine’s advisor: “It is wonderful to work with Kaitie and her coeditor Morgan Jordan because they are so enthusiastic about their publication. They both brim with creativity and are always amazing me and the rest of the staff with their ideas, suggestions, and work. This is a high honor for Kaitie and for as well.”

Her poem is now eligible for a Bennington Writing Prize.

Genesis of a Poem

O’Hare, who minored in creative writing, wrote her poem as a class assignment in Professor David Keplinger’s poetry workshop.

“I knew that I wanted to write about my grandfather, who died when I was one,” she said. “Giacomo’s my grandfather. And I knew that I wanted to connect food. I’m really, really Italian despite my last name.”

Writing an elegy about someone she never knew seemed challenging.

But in a way, she and her grandfather had met.

“I had this dream when I was six years old, and I woke up crying because I was convinced that he had come to me in my dream,” she said. “That always stuck with me. So that’s where the poem came from.”

The Baltimore native and graduating senior is now an intern at Split This Rock, a Washington, D.C., organization dedicated to promoting socially engaged poetry and giving poets a bigger role in public life.

As for future plans, O’Hare, a journalism major in the School of Communication, hopes someday to write books.

“I would love to be the female straight version of David Sedaris,” she said.