Winner of the 2014 Zone 3 First Book Award for Poetry, Ashley Seitz Kramer will celebrate the release of her poetry manuscript “Museum of Distance” on Thursday Oct. 22 as a guest author at APSU. Sponsored by the APSU Center for Excellence in Creative Arts’ literary journal Zone 3 Press, Kramer will present a reading of her poetry at 8 p.m. in MUC 303.
Citing inspiration from Shel Silverstein and Margery Williams, Kramer was inspired to start writing poetry at a very young age. “I wrote a lot of stories at 5 or 6 [years of age], and I put together my own book,” Kramer said. With poetry collections such as Where the Sidewalk Ends,” Kramer said she was inspired by the “whimsy and comedic” twist on deep and meaningful poetry. These ideas were early influences for Kramer’s surreal and Magic Realism tones which can be found in “Museum of Distance” poems like “Each Leg a Good Root.”
Literary critics and fellow poets such as Leslie Ullman relate Kramer’s writing to magic realism, noting her ability to “[blur] the boundaries between the quotidian and the fantastic.” When asked about magic realism and how, if at all, it functions in her poetry, Kramer said she “loves to leave the door open. Magic realism, a writing style that accepts the use of magic in a rational world—much like myths and allegories, allows for a writer to return to an idea or an image with new meanings and possibilities.” Said Kramer, “I get bored when I can figure out a poem [easily].”
Along with her recent Zone 3 award, Kramer has won various awards such as the Ruth Sone Prize, the Robert and Adele Schiff Prize, and the Utah Writers’ Contest. Kramer has work published in journals including Western Humanities Review, Quarterly West, The Burnside Review, and the Colorado Review. Kramer began submitting her work to college journals towards the middle of her undergraduate career. Although she was met with success early on, Kramer was never overly eager to continue sending work to publications. “I was told to spend one-seventh of [my time] sending out work.” The rest of her time she spent writing.
When asked what kind of advice she had for student writers and aspiring poets, Kramer responded with one her favorite quotes from a mentor: “Spend the rest of your life figuring out what poetry is.” To Kramer, a poem or any other piece of writing, is never finished. “We have this idea that when a poem is done, it can’t be revisited,” Kramer said. Kramer views poetry as something similar to a living, breathing object: “Poems behave differently. I don’t feel like I’m in charge of a poem when I write. I look at a language as a material I’m working with.” Said Kramer.