Life's Reflections

Poet Koren composes chapbook
of original poetry about life

Author to sign books
at Village Lights Bookstore on Dec. 17

By Nichole Osinski
Contributing Writer

(December 2011) – Mother, wife, teacher, poet. The list goes on. Jill Kelly Koren, 35, truly has a wealth of experience to pull from when writing poetry. Many of her poems reflect the world around her and include themes such as family, love and death.
Koren’s latest work is a collection of 19 original poems that have been organized into a chapbook. This sized-down poetry book combines both previously published and new poems all written by Koren. The chapbook is not only meant to describe life but to give readers a glance into the author’s thoughts about the world.

Jill Kelly Koren Painting

Photo provided

Jill Kelly Koren,
depicted in this
painting by Tom Kelly,
is a musician
and a poet.

Koren will be signing her new book of poems from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Village Lights Bookstore, 110 E. Main St. Madison, Ind. There will also be live music at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. by The Chestnuts and Fly Painted Feathers.
The store’s owner, Nathan Montoya, has featured Koren in the past and recently appointed her as the new emcee during poetry nights.
“She’s a wonderful reader and a wonderful poet,” said Montoya. “And we’re very excited with this book she’s coming out with.”
Koren’s path to writing poetry began around age 8 when she was reading about American poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Already fond of writing, Koren then thought “I had to catch up!”
She began writing poems on and off and became serious about it when she was teaching in Houston. She finally decided to enter graduate school to study poetry at Spalding University in Louisville, where she received her master’s degree in creative writing with a focus in poetry and creative non-fiction.
Soon her poems and essays were being published in literary magazines such as The Louisville Review, Women, Period, and Literary Mama.
For her creative thesis at Spalding, Koren began to organize her continuously growing poems into manuscript form. Though this body of work didn’t elicit a large response, this was a kickstart to begin compiling her most recent chapbook.
When a friend started a printing press in Lexington, Ky. Koren used this opportunity to distill what she had in her previous manuscript and place it into what is now “While the Water Rises Around Us.”
When creating her poems, Koren used inspiration from the people around her, such as her father, who writes songs, and her mother, who read her poetry when she was younger. Her husband, Emeka, and their two children, Sonny and Esphyr, have also been used as subject matter for her poems.
“I write a lot about them,” she said. “That’s the life I’m living right now.”
However, Koren doesn’t just use her artistic talent for writing. She enjoys the visual arts and when she’s not writing or drawing she can be found playing music. She is in the band, The Chestnuts, a folk trio in which she plays the bass and acoustic guitar.
Koren also teaches an online writing class for Ivy Tech Community College, where she incorporates her own experience as a writer into her lessons. Koren said she enjoys teaching and that “even if I weren’t publishing, I would still be writing. It’s a way to share with people and it illuminates life.”
For Koren, the process of writing a poem usually begins with a moment she has experienced herself. Many times she comes up with ideas by being alone and then composing the poem in a way that shares that same experience with people.
Though some of her poems maintain a traditional form to them, such as sonnets, she mainly writes in open verse. Open verse, also known as open form, usually strays from rhyming and a strict structure and provides a way for Koren to freely compose in a manner that suits her ideals.
With each poem Koren tries to make a connection with the reader through different experiences. She explains part of the reason she writes is because of its redemptive value in a world where so much is lost. Her aim is to confront tragedy or loss by putting the situation into a poem and redeeming it through the art of poetry.

• For more information, call Village Lights Bookstore at (812) 265-1800.

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