Research meets rhyme scheme

Photo by Elizabeth Zabel
Though her most recent literary prize comes from Iowa and she lives in Georgia, poet Lindsay Tigue has plenty of Michigan in her blood.

Tigue, who grew up in Clarkston, graduated from MSU in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in English. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing and environment from Iowa State University and is pursuing a doctorate degree at the University of Georgia while working as editorial assistant at the Georgia Review. Tigue returns to East Lansing today to read from her debut poetry collection, “System of Ghosts,” for the MSU Residential College in the Arts and Humanities’ Spring Poetry Festival.

“Most of (‘System of Ghosts’) was written as part of my master’s thesis at Iowa State,” Tigue said.

The book was published earlier this month by the University of Iowa Press. Last year, it was awarded the university’s prestigious Iowa Poetry Prize.

“It took a couple of years to write and submit the manuscript,” Tigue said. “That process can be quite long. I had been submitting for two years before I won and had been writing for probably two years before that.”

The poems in the collection address the relationships that link human beings, from the easily defined to the complex.

“There are poems on family and romantic relationships, but it also extends beyond that,” Tigue said.

And while she starts from intimate relationships, Tigue also explores broader topics.

“I’m interested in history and also the personal,” Tigue said. “I was interested in facts and in personal stories and how they tie in to the interpersonal.”

To sew together personal and academic narratives, Tigue immersed herself in careful research. She studied topics ranging from the humanities to the sciences, especially history.

“The research was a little more varied than academic research would normally be for a thesis or dissertation,” she said. “It’s sort of all over the map.”

Tigue discusses her research process in a 3 p.m. presentation this afternoon. Her talk covers how to use research to strengthen a work — to perfectly craft the right metaphor about jellyfish and true love, for example — and writing accurate poetry about topics like a historical event or scientific concept.

While she’s in town, the recent award winner will be awarding a prize herself. Tigue is the judge for the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities’ Annie Balocating Undergraduate Prize for Poetry and will announce the winner at tonight’s reading.

While Tigue has returned to East Lansing a few times since graduation, this visit is special for her.

“It’ll be great to be back to celebrate the publication of the book, because I have so many friends and family in the area,” Tigue said. “I just want to walk back inside the library — I have so many memories of studying and working there.”

Spring Poetry Festival: Lindsay Tigue

7 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 FREE RCAH Theater, Snyder- Phillips Hall 362 Bogue St., East Lansing

Funneling Facts — Using Research in Poetry

With Linsday Tigue 3 p.m. LookOut! Gallery, Snyder-Phillips Hall 362 Bogue St., East Lansing


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