Instead of trying to “fit in” with her work, one alumna strayed from the norm, following her interests and letting her voice shine through in her experimental poetry.
Michelle Detorie, Texas State alumna, has published a selection of her poem collection titled “Fur Birds.”
Michelle Detorie has been working on a collection of poems called “Fur Birds,” a portion of which was recently published. Her journey to becoming a poet began at Texas State.
“I was more interested in stories, but then I saw how you could play with words in poetry,” Detorie said. “I had the freedom of how to use the page and language to affect the reader in a certain way.”
Detorie said that idea presented itself when her professor and thesis director, Kathleen Peirce, brought little objects to class. She asked the students to arrange them like a poem, visually explaining how arrangement affects language and how the reader reacts to poems.
Peirce said she noticed Detorie making that idea her own when Detorie wrote “Myomancy.” She became aware of Detorie’s avant-garde writing, prose and poetry that were on the margins of the usual.
“Michelle’s creative writing was experimental. She was letting her poems become a collision of ideas at the risk of being peculiar,” Peirce said. “That’s how she grew into her voice and found a home for it.”
Detorie’s interest in animal rescue spilled into her writing, pricking her interest in the relations of humans, animals and the natural world.
After finding her writing voice and receiving an MFA in poetry, Detorie moved to southern California so her husband could pursue graduate school. She said they moved to Texas to follow her schooling, and it was her time to trade off.
“He followed my passion. So it was my turn to follow his. I love it (in California), though. There are so many cool writers down here, and it’s a vibrant community,” Detorie said. “Plus, for the type of poetry I’m interested in, there is a whole community online.”
Through that online community of poetry bloggers, Detorie came in contact with Mathew Timmons, who runs a press in Los Angeles.
Timmons heard her at a reading in China Town, where she had already become part of the community.
“I really liked how she could float between prose and poetry, using that looseness to present her idea,” Timmons said. “You can hear her concerns about the relations between human and animal, the humanity of animals. Beyond that there were explorations of possibilities and questions of ethics. Just whatever interested her.”
Detorie soon became a prominent poetry writer in the community, interacting with the group whenever possible.
At the time his company, Insert Blanc Press, was acting as a fake press of an art show. As part of the process, Timmons asked authors in the community to create fake titles for a poetry series.
“It was a really good collection of this community’s work. So, I thought ‘What the heck, why don’t I just publish it?’” Timmons said. “So, I just called all the writers up and asked them to actually write books for these titles.”
The title Detorie had submitted was part of an on-going project called “Fur Birds,” a fragmented narrative of a post-apocalyptic world and how nature was affected. The project was in multidimensional parts, including dioramas, prose and poetry.
“It seemed like an exciting way to work with this community, and I’m excited to see that it’s still going on,” Detorie said. “It just gives that strengthened feel that there will always be a connection here.”
Detorie said she is working on finishing a longer piece of “Fur Birds.”
“The great thing about her is (she is) an avant-garde person all around,” Peirce said. “She does work in her own way and enjoys it. She’s found a great way and place to have a happy life.”