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Because Hamiltonians Pursue Poetry: Katie Naughton ’08


Katie Naughton ’08 is poetry in motion: She’s working on her dissertation for a doctorate in literature at the University at Buffalo, teaching undergraduates, creating a website where poets will share short their recommendations for poetry to read, handling publicity, social media, and editorial work for Essay Press, and working on a digital humanities archives.

Amid all of that, she writes poetry.

Naughton likes how the varied work gives her ways to shift her attention.“I like that in academia, there's a balance, and that in these publishing and various projects, there's a balance, between internal work and external work,” she said.

As for her internal work, she’s published numerous poems, including warming ending what it may you persist, which won the 2018 Dan Liberthson Poetry Prize from the American Academy of Poets. Her first chapbook collection will come out this year. It’s an essay poem published by above/ground press. She’s sent a book manuscript out to publishers. The collection was a finalist this year for Nightboat Books’ poetry prize. And she’s writing a second collection of poetry.

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Naughton discovered poetry at Hamilton, even as she was considering a premed track. Instead, she turned toward a creative writing major and minored in chemistry. Drawn to both fiction and poetry, Naughton was still debating her senior year which way to go for her thesis. She settled on poetry, and it stuck.

“I definitely made the right choice. My partner now is a fiction writer, and it's so clear to me the ways in which I'm not really a fiction writer — namely, I can't make up characters. My most successful piece of fiction was from the point of view of a field. That's a pretty solid sign that you’re a poet,” Naughton said.

She’s interested in poetry as a way to attend to things that don't always get noticed. She’s interested in perception.

“When we're perceiving things, so many different things are coming at us at once, and we need to simplify it into something clear, something actionable, something that we could make a narrative out of in everyday life to continue moving forward,” Naughton said. “And I feel like poetry, and art more generally, is a place where it's okay for some of that not to resolve, to hold the pieces together in an unresolved kind of way. So part of why I like writing is because it's a way of being able to pay that kind of attention to things in a way that's not goal or action oriented or oriented toward a narrative or an answer, or an explanation — a way to stay attentive to particulars rather than explanations.”

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