Posted on Thursday, July 6, 2017
Catching up with Kara Knickerbocker '12 may be hard to do in between the many moving facets of her life. After a full year of visiting over seven countries and running her first marathon six months after receiving a pacemaker, no wonder why her goal for the rest of 2017 is to honestly slow down.
“I will always be passionate about travel and will continue to do so whenever possible,” says Kara. “But four international trips last year while training for a marathon, working full time, and working on my manuscript and taking classes was chaotic.”
For most writers, chaos brews creativity. The same sentiment holds true for the ever-wandering Knickerbocker. Drawing on her “whirlwind of experience” over the past year, Kara uses her trials and triumphs to pen the emotionally charged Next to Everything that is Breakable, her debut poetry collection. Delving deep into the idea of fragility, the chapbook is divided into three major themes: travel, the human body and love.
"I have poems in each of those categories that are particularly close to me,” reveals Kara.
Brilliantly using travel, the human body and love as metaphoric vehicles to explore the human condition, the essence of Kara’s humanity is captured in this riveting account of her journey into womanhood. From exposing her more vulnerable self in “They Told Me” to offering a raw, honest perspective on love in “If You’re Asking Why I’m Leaving,” Kara speaks from a place of fragility that ties the entire collection of poems together.
Arguably the most revealing piece of the collection, “Beating” captures everything Kara felt about her pacemaker surgery. In March of 2016, after enduring issues with her health, she underwent surgery to receive a pacemaker.
“This came as a shock to my family and I, as I was only 25 and never had any serious heart problems. I was healthier than I had ever been,” says Kara. “I had found a love for running and finished four half marathons (something I never thought possible), and then after my surgery, I would get out of breath walking up a flight of stairs.”
“I felt so much emotion surrounding this topic that I had to put it down on the page. That became determination: not only for running, but also for writing, which led to Next to Everything that is Breakable coming to life.”
Much like the many hurdles she overcame in her life, Kara found the strength to conquer her bouts of writer’s block. While she received her BA in English from Westminster College in 2012, she unfortunately stopped writing for pleasure for nearly five years.
“Although I wish I could go back in time and change that, I can’t regret the path I took. I had to live first, and many of those experiences later came back to life in the content of my poetry.”
In the fall of 2015, Kara found her way back to her creative voice. She began taking classes with the Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University, a weekly, semester-long workshop for women in her community. Backed by a group of supporting, fierce “Madwomen,” Kara continues to find inspiration from her peers and learn as much as she can from the incredibly talented group of writers.
“They have without a doubt been my strength and support— the family I didn’t know I was missing,” admits Kara. “Since then, I’ve never doubted that this is what I love to do and will always continue to do.”
Dr. Kristianne Kalata, associate professor of English at Westminster, believes this is just the beginning of successes for the gifted poet. Kara named Kalata and Dr. Andrew Ade as some of the professors who influenced her the most during her time at Westminster.
“It is not surprising, years later, to find that she has distinguished herself as one among many writers who has the right combination of talent, effort, and patience to see the creative process through,” adds Kalata. “I am so proud of her well-earned achievements, and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future."
Knowing now that writing is what she loves to do and will always continue to do, Kara plans to devote more time to perfecting her craft. Her next steps are promoting and celebrating the release of Next to Everything that is Breakable— in which all are welcomed to join her on Saturday, July 29th at 2:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-East Liberty. She will also do a live reading at 3 p.m.
For more information, contact Tom Fields @firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-946-7190.