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Lakeland grad Amundsen earns prestigious award for poem

March 31, 2017 In Lakeland University Blog
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For about a year, Katie Amundsen allowed that special day to soak into her soul, where the spectacular sights, sounds and ocean smells ripened.

"Sometimes, you need space from an experience," she said, "before you write about it."

Over time, memories of the whale watching expedition Amundsen enjoyed with her family tugged at her creativity and inspired her to create beauty.

Her resultant poem, "Whale Soup," recently won the Association of Writing and Writing Programs (AWP) Intro Journal Prize and will be featured in the next issue of "The Mid-American Review."

Amundsen, who graduated from Lakeland in 2015 with a double major in English and writing, is currently closing in on her master of fine arts degree in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry at Wichita State University.

She's in the second year of a three-year track at Wichita State, where she studies for no cost and receives a stipend because she also teaches two English composition classes each semester.

"Whale Soup" is a rich, metaphorical piece. In one stanza, Amundsen writes that the whales "bump and stir like dumplings, celery, island onions, cooked sweet in soup, grown apple-like in big mild bites …"

"This was a poem I didn't revise a lot, which is pretty rare for me," said Amundsen, who spent about three hours on the piece. "Most poems, I revise again and again. It's hard to know when a poem is finished, and sometimes I feel like mine are never finished. But you have to let them go. It's hard to know when, but with this one, it was relatively easy."

Amundsen, whose work was nominated for the prestigious award by a professor at Wichita State, found out by email that she had unofficially won, and that an official letter would arrive soon to confirm the accomplishment.

"When that letter came, it was super exciting," she said. "I have never won anything like this before."

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