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Poet takes students through her life

Monique Millan
Staff Writer

Maggie Nelson, author, poet and art critic visited La Verne to speak about novels, life and her journey as a writer.

Nelson read passages out of her novels to a group of students many of whom brought their own copies of her books to the presentation at the Chapel last Friday.

“She is amazing and articulates the way she writes. I’m glad to say I got her autograph,” creative writing major, Matthew Johnson said.

She discussed the realism of her writing, and the motivation behind it.

From a young age, her parents and other family members told her she embodied the spirit of her Aunt Jane whom she never met, but who was a political activist who had been mysteriously murdered.

Nelson even had a dream about how her aunt was murdered. This dream led her to more writings and to search for missing clues.

She explains in her novel “Jane” the journey of going to a New York library and asking the librarian for archives of unsolved deaths. This wasn’t a famous killing, but it became the fuel to her writing.

As she balanced on a small stool in front of the audience, the poetry she read sounded like music.

Her writing is not one defined style, but rather a combination of poetry and humor, giving a snapshot of real-life stories.

“I liked finding out from a successful writer the struggles she went through and she made it,” creative writing major Hannah Knous said. “As a writer myself, it means a lot.”

Nelson shared that she didn’t expect to be a writer.

She did a lot of writing in her early 20s, and the collection was put in her novel several years later when she was able to examine where her life was taking her.

She said she spent her youth as a political activist and feminist.

Nelson concluded her presentation with questions from the audience.

Then she autographed books for some.

Monique Millan can be reached at

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