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Poetry student lives a life of rhyme

Ask Arda Collins why poetry is important, and the acclaimed poet will be the first to admit it’s not a popular genre that will ever “fly off the shelves.”

“I think of it as important in the same way as if you spent a day with someone going to the movies and you have some sort of magical day, or you eat something and it’s delicious,” Collins explains. “Maybe it’s not so important, but … it makes life worth living.”

Art — especially in the context of words — is something that makes life worth living for the second-year student in DU’s creative writing PhD program.

For the 34-year-old Collins, what some may consider a dalliance has become a promising profession, not to mention the envy of most writers with similarly lofty aspirations.

Collins’ poems have appeared in The New Yorker and American Poetry Review. She is a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was one of hundreds of poets vying for acceptance into DU’s creative writing program, the only writing program in the country that focuses exclusively on doctoral study.

Last year, Collins won the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the annual event of the Yale University Press that publishes the first collection of a promising American poet under the age of 40. Collins’ It Is Daylight was published in April 2009 and garnered positive reviews from critics who called her work “dramatic,” “mesmerizing” and “electric.”

For Collins, writing is where “things I imagine become real.” Take her poem “Low,” for example, in which she writes, “It’s not happiness, but something else; waiting for the light to change; a bakery. It’s a lake. It emerges from darkness into the next day surrounded by pines.” Her images are simple; her sentences short and sweet.

The New York native is finding solace in the “smallness” of DU’s program.

“It’s just a good place to work,” Collins says. “I like what is happening here creatively.”


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