My name is Cate Mahoney, and I’m a graduate student here in the English department at Princeton. I’m also happy to announce that I’m a University Administrative Fellow for Princeton Writes this year! It’s nice to meet you, Internet.
I study poetry and poetics and have been working for the past few years on a dissertation focusing on certain American poets in the 19th and 20th centuries. If I were to pick my two poetry ambassadors, they would be Emily Dickinson and Frank O’Hara. Born about a century apart, they are wildly different in their style but are both charismatic as all get out. I have been reading them since I was a teenager, but now I work critically to discover WHY and HOW they influence readers through their writing.
What makes a poem, and why do we need it? These are some of the most basic questions someone can ask, and I’ve been writing and reading my way around those questions since I was an undergraduate. These are some of the questions I’d also like to ask you!
I’ve been a word person for as long as I can remember. Some people understand things through images, some through numbers, but for me it’s through the combination of words that describe the intangible made tangible. In getting down the words, the writer accomplishes something immense: pulling sound from silence, hammering it onto the page, and sharing emotion within the language—in the process, fostering empowerment and solidarity with the reader.
As Samuel Taylor Coleridge once wrote, “No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.” (From “This Lime-tree Bower my Prison”—go check it out!)
I’m excited to join John and Stephanie and work with you these coming months.