SAEGERTOWN — Saegertown Junior-Senior High School graduate Kara Knickerbocker will publish several poems and a chapbook this year.
Her upcoming works include “If You’re Asking Why I’m Leaving” from Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Issue Five, April 2017; “The Foundation,” “Afterbirth,” “Burning,” “Road Maps” and an earlier version of “Oceans of Her Own” forthcoming from Avatar Review, 2017; and “Portrait of Your Grandfather, Dying” forthcoming from Uppagus, 2017.
Knickerbocker recently has announced her chapbook, or small volume booklet, “Next to Everything that is Breakable,” is set to release June 9.
Most of Knickerbocker’s ideas stem from personal experience.
“I have three major themes in my book: travel, the human body and love," Knickerbocker said. "I have poems in each of those categories that are particularly close to me.
“In March of 2016, after issues with my health, I underwent surgery to receive a pacemaker. This came as a shock to my family and me, as I was only 25 and never had any serious heart problems. I felt so much emotion surrounding this topic that I had to put it down on the page. That became determination.”
Along with her health, traveling became an inspiration.
“You see so much of the experiences I’ve had overseas and can hopefully feel the distance I’ve traveled in this manuscript,” Knickerbocker said.
Another literary influence for Knickerbocker is Saegertown.
“Being a student at a school like SHS allowed me to develop stronger relations with my teachers, since the intimate class sizes provided me with more one-on-one interactions," she said. "I think it’s essential when you’re at such a vulnerable age and state in your life that you truly feel like a valued individual.
“I’ve returned to SHS many times to visit with Stacey and Bill Hetrick, two of my favorite English teachers. From the beginning, they have been a steady source of motivation and support.
“Mrs. Hetrick said, ‘I hope you always find your way back’ to our class once, when speaking about our future, and how life can seem to get in the way of the dreams we have for ourselves," Knickerbocker said. "I have not forgotten those words or the roots I stem from."
It has been almost nine years since Knickerbocker graduated from Saegertown High School. While she attended SHS, she hosted an open mic night as her senior project where she recited her own original poetry. Her love for writing and poetry has continued to flourish in her adult life, resulting in a bachelor of arts in English from Westminster College in New Wilmington.
She currently works at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and takes Madwomen in the Attic Workshops at Carlow University in Pittsburgh.
Despite keeping busy and traveling to 25 countries, she still has focused on her own writing. Since 2008, Knickerbocker has published more than 35 poetry and essay pieces, and she won first place at the Sigma Tau Delta International English Convention for her collection “From This Side of the Sun” in 2016.
“My next move is going to focus primarily on writing, as I want to generate new material for another chapbook or full-length collection," Knickerbocker said. "I feel like this is only the beginning, and I can’t wait for what’s next.”
"Next to Everything that is Breakable" by Knickerbocker is available now for pre-sale. To read her work or learn more about her story, visit karaknickerbocker.com.
Hillary Twiford is a staff writer for The Panther Press, which is Saegertown Junior-Senior High School's student newspaper.