The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Tornado is the World: Pierce inspired by havoc

Sarah Dutton | The Reflector

Catherine Pierce hands out graded papers to her students during her afternoon Creative Writing class in McCain Hall prior to beginning a quiz on their recent reading assignment.

This Tuesday, Mississippi State University’s Dr. Catherine Pierce will be reading from her most recent book of poetry, The Tornado is the World, as well as taking questions from the audience at Fowlkes Auditorium in the Colvard Student Union.

Pierce is an associate professor in MSU’s English department, the co-director of MSU’s creative writing department and the author of three books of poetry-the most recent being 2016’s The Tornado is the World.

Pierce sais she considers her love of reading and writing to have been the catalyst of her career as both an educator and an author. 

“I’ve always loved both reading and writing, and so as a college student I naturally gravitated toward studying English,” Pierce said. “From there it was an organic progression.”

Pierce said her interests grew in college and once in graduate school she discovered another love, teaching.

“I took workshop classes in college that I loved, and so I went on to grad school to keep studying creative writing,” Pierce said. “While in grad school, I was a TA and realized that I loved teaching writing as well as writing itself. I was very fortunate to have found a job that lets me do both.”

The Tornado is the World, like all of Pierce’s work, is inspired by her interests.

“My poems tend to follow my obsessions,” Pierce said. “When I wrote The Tornado Is the World I was, and I still am, thinking a lot about the ways the natural world can wreak havoc on our carefully controlled lives.”

Pierce said she finds the process of producing poetry rewarding.

“I find it tremendously satisfying to try to translate unwieldy ideas and gut-level responses into something as taut and controlled as a poem can be,” Pierce said. “I’m also completely in love with language and poetry offers me a chance to fully immerse myself in words and what they can build.”

Pierce’s poetry relies on imagery to convey meaning in her poetry. In The Tornado is the World, that imagery centers around a tornado in a small town.

“I try to rely on imagery as much as I can and to hook into a sense of play in my work, even when I’m writing about things that are deadly serious, and I’ve been told my poems are relatively accessible,” Pierce said. “The Tornado Is the World centers around an EF-4 tornado that hits a small town and poems are written from the perspectives of various recurring characters, including the tornado itself.”

Pierce said she is a fan of poetry readings because they give listeners an opportunity to hear from poets directly about their poems and process.

“One thing I love about poetry readings is the chance to hear the poet not just read but also talk about the poem,” Pierce said, “maybe a story about what prompted the writing of one poem or an explanation of a reference in another. This personal context can help poems to resonate even more powerfully. I also love the Q&As that often follow readings. For me, the chance to hear the writer answer questions about the poems, the writing process, etc., is often as entertaining as hearing the poems themselves.”

The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will last for about half an hour. Pierce will be taking questions after the reading. Copies of The Tornado is the World will be available for sale and there will be a book signing outside of the auditorium afterword.

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The Tornado is the World: Pierce inspired by havoc