Jory Mickelson moved from the Bitterroot Valley in Montana to Washington for his first chapter of school, but it's the University of Idaho where he's cementing his foundation in creative writing with an MFA and a newly published chapbook, "Slow Depth."
"Growing up in such a beautiful setting, I learned to appreciate the land and nature," said Mickelson. "I spent a lot of time fishing with my dad, who is a high school art teacher, and he helped me pay attention to detail."
That attention to detail and a talent for putting it into words earned Mickelson the Grace V. Nixon Graduate Scholarship - for graduate students who intend to teach. And it's the essence of Montana, from which he draws much of his inspiration for writing, that landed him in the winner's circle in a Winged City Press competition. The prize? A published chapbook of poetry.
"I'm thrilled that it got picked up," said Mickelson. "It's a real honor to see hard work and dedication turn into something tangible you can hold in your hands and read out loud."
For Mickelson, who makes his home in Bellingham, Wash., when he's not in Moscow, writing poetry helps him come to terms with the feelings of loving a place, but no longer living there - how people's lives are connected to regional places and how they become determining factors in thought processes, almost internal landscapes.
In between school, his teaching assistantship and other commitments, Mickelson has been working on this manuscript of poems for the last four years, in one stage or another. While he has had success in having individual poems published, this is his first collection to be published together, a big honor for a student.
"I make the time to write," said Mickelson. "I feel that finding time to write is always the great challenge. And it takes a lot of time, or stubbornness, to be published. Success is writing a lot, not giving up and being willing to face another 30 rejections to see it through."
Mickelson will host a reading and sign his chapbook, "Slow Depth," at 7:30 p.m. March 22 at One World Café in Moscow. Ciara Shuttleworth an MFA alumna from 2011 is the opening reader.
IF YOU GO
- WHAT: Jory Mickelson poetry reading
- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today
- WHERE: One World Cafe, Sixth and Main streets, downtown Moscow
- COST: Free