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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Julie Swarstad: Posh poet extraordinaire

    Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat 

Julie Swarstad, a senior graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing, holds her handmade book of poetry, An Unacceptable Nearness, which she created for her thesis. She enjoys writing lyrical poetry with strong narrative elements and also played the trombone in the UA marching band, Pride of Arizona.
    Lisa Beth Earle
    Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Julie Swarstad, a senior graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing, holds her handmade book of poetry, “An Unacceptable Nearness”, which she created for her thesis. She enjoys writing lyrical poetry with strong narrative elements and also played the trombone in the UA marching band, Pride of Arizona.

    Everything about Julie Swarstad screams artistic. From the slightly retro crimson skirt to an elegant necklace, it’s clear she has a flair for examining how things work together. But even on first meeting, what’s fascinating is a certain intensity in her look, her eyes constantly open to inspiration.

    A Peoria native, Swarstad is a testament to the impact of a great teacher. Her love of poetry stemmed from a sixth grade poetry assignment, in which her teacher let her continue writing when other students moved on because “”it was something I enjoyed a lot.”” Writing quickly became a habit for Swarstad and a means of passing the time throughout high school.

    When entering college, the decision to be a creative writing major was completely natural. “”I just knew it was something I wanted to do, and here I am doing it,”” Swarstad said. “”I feel like it was what I was meant to be doing.””

    She didn’t waste her four years here. In fact, Swarstad is quite the overachiever. She’s not the annoying type who flaunts it, but the type who you envy. And then you wonder how she has time to pursue not only a major in creative writing, but one in anthropology as well. Oh, and add a music minor on top of that.

    Even more impressive is Swarstad’s work in the English honors program. The department selects between eight and 12 students a year. These students then participate in a series of intense seminars and independent study. After submitting a portfolio at the end of her junior year, the department decided Swarstad’s work was of thesis-calibur.

    While enjoying a community of fellow writers was an amazing experience for Swarstad, creating a collection of poetry for her honors thesis was not a simple process.

    “”It doesn’t sound that hard to complete 22 poems, but it’s a lot of writing and a lot of time spent on your own,”” Swarstad said.

    “”I kept playing around with the idea of distance between ideas and things and people,”” she said. “”For me, the collection is distance and nearness.””

    While her poems have this overarching theme, they cover a wide range of subject matter, varying from life in Tucson, to escapades in Europe and regular life.

    Swarstad is by no means the hermit poet. Though influenced by the likes of Ann Carson and John Donne, much of her inspiration comes from everyday events and interaction with people. For her thesis, Swarstad set aside time twice a week to write at Café Passé, because for her “”the best writing comes out of experience, so having noise and people walking by the street helps me to write.””

    Swarstad plans to maintain her ties to the UA by working part-time with the Poetry Center and the Honors College next year. As of now, she’s keeping her fingers crossed for the prestigious MFA program at the University of Texas at Austin. 

    What words of wisdom does this posh poet have for the rest of us?

    “”If you’re going to pursue art,”” Swarstad said, “”make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Do it because it’s powerful and changes things. Art and language and writing really impact the world.””  

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