Sweet Briar last reported on 2010 graduate Carina Finn when she was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. Now her first book of poetry, “My Life Is a Movie,” has sold out of its first run and gone into additional printings since its release in June.
“That’s not just remarkable for a small [publisher] like Birds of Lace,” says poet John Casteen, Finn’s teacher and mentor at Sweet Briar. “It’s unheard of for first books of poetry. … In the poetry world, this is a home run.”
He oversaw Finn’s honors thesis, which included “I Heart Marlon Brando,” the poem cycle that eventually earned her the Pushcart nomination.
“She’s a spectacular writer with a raw, gritty, ferocious talent, and it comes as no surprise to me … that she has found such profound and early success,” Casteen says.
Except Finn’s is not a traditional approach to publishing her work.
“I’d never want something in a magazine, however ‘prestigious,’ if I don’t respect the writing or the way they operate, and I only submit manuscripts to presses I actively read,” she says.
Hers is not the quickest route to a tenure-track teaching position, something she thinks she’ll want one day. In May, she completed a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Notre Dame, then immediately returned to New York City after spending last summer there on a Nicholas Sparks Fellowship and working for a big publishing house.
She snubbed subsequent 9-to-5 jobs to immerse herself in the city’s bountiful poetry scene, freelance, bartend, and make art through poetry and playwriting, music and film. She’s involved in The Poetry Society of New York, runs the interdisciplinary performance series Bratty Poets and occasionally blogs at ladyblogblah.
It’s all research for that “steady-ish” teaching gig down the road.
“I’ve had more amazing teachers than any one person could hope for, and I’m going to pass on all the knowledge and energy that has been given to me,” she says. “I feel like it’s really important, though, for students to get a perspective from way outside of academia, to have teachers who can show them many ways of making the same thing.”
Read the extended version of this story here.