Corban students Jade Walker, Jacquelyn Clark, Kateleen Vetter, and Mallory Kellum will have their work featured in The Poet Magazine, while Hannah Mead’s poetry will be published by Black Moon Magazine, and Miriam Steinbach’s work will be featured in Peeking Cat Literary.
For Walker, Clark, Vetter, and Kellum, their work was selected to feature in an edition covering the broader topic of childhood. While each poem is as unique as its author, every student conveyed the same sense of joy at being officially published. “That email was like getting the breath knocked out of me,” says Jade Walker, “but that could have been because I was laughing and jumping around.” For Steinbach, it represented a crucial step toward her dream of someday having a published book of poetry.
For some, it was the culmination and affirmation of hard work and personal passion that began early on, while others developed a love of poetry more recently, after arriving at Corban. “Poetry was a safe space to be funny, abstract, or incredibly raw,” says Jacquelyn Clark, who remembers first being hooked by poetry in middle school. “I had never experienced a space so comfortable.” For fellow poet Kateleen Vetter, the journey toward a love of poetry was far more gradual, reaching prominence with the help of her literature classes at Corban. “I thought poetry was fun, but absurd,” she says. “Exposure to British devotional poets, especially John Donne and Gerard Manley Hopkins, showed me that poetry isn’t just wit, but substance, too.”
One thing all of these young poets have in common is Poetry class with Corban English professor Dr. Colette Tennant, herself a widely acclaimed and published poet. “All of the best advice that now lives in the voice in my head is from that class,” Walker says. “’Write specifics,’ ‘Show, don’t tell,’ and ‘Don’t be afraid to let it get a little weird,’ are some of my favorites.”
For Tennant, the experience of seeing her students succeed is just as rewarding. “I’m just so happy their hard work and talent are being recognized by being published together alongside poets literally from around the world,” she says. “I was impressed that a 22-year-old poet read her work at the presidential inauguration. It doesn’t surprise me, though, because every day I get to see how very talented our students are. The sky is the limit for them, too.”
Dr. Tennant has fostered a community of Corban poets who are not only learning to produce great poetry but are gleaning the benefits of a new form of expression. “Dr. Tennant challenges us to try poetry that is out of our comfort zone,” says Clark, “and also to push the boundaries of what we can put out on paper.” In learning to push boundaries, and improve their craft, Corban’s community of young poets is nurturing further opportunities to speak truth through their poetry—truth shown through experience, through raw emotion, and through reflected beauty. The end results are often lifegiving to both the poet and the reader.
“Poetry is a place for me to process things that feel too big and put them on paper where I can see them,” says Clark. “I used to fear really big emotions, but now I welcome them, especially because they produce superb poetry.”
For Kateleen Vetter, her time at Corban has taught her to see new layers of beauty in her life and faith. “Poetry gives an opportunity for the mundane to become magnificent,” she says. “I think that’s what Jesus does in many of His parables—leaven and bread as the kingdom of heaven, Jesus as a good shepherd—and let’s not forget some of the most remarkable poems in the Bible, Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel, and Mary’s Magnificat.”
While concepts of truth may continue to be increasingly diversified, nuanced, and even scrambled, Corban continues to equip and educate students to make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ. For some, the intimate, often raw, beauty of poetry can offer new and unique entrances to deeper truths—brief, rhythmic refractions of the beauty inherently expressed in the attributes of God and His creation. “Poetry reclaims the ordinary,” says Vetter. “I think it boasts a very biblical perspective in this way. The stories of scripture don’t always feel very logical—the gospel certainly isn’t—but this radical way of seeing the world as plentiful and hopeful despite deep pain allows us to see the light of the kingdom that is coming.”