URI sophomore Kate Ayers recently published her first poetry book, entitled “Gin and Juice Boxes.” Photo by James McIntosh.
Kate Ayers lives by the words of Robin Williams’ John Keating in “Dead Poets Society”:
“Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
Ayers, a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island double majoring in English and writing and rhetoric, has been inspired by poetry from a young age.
“I learned that I could write in seventh grade,” Ayers said. “I wrote this horrible paragraph about the sky and at the time I thought that was poetry. I’ve always been in love with reading though, so I started reading poems and copying their words.”
She took her love to another level this year by publishing her first poetry book this February and sharing her writing with the world.
“Gin and Juice Boxes” features a collection of Ayers’ poems, centering on her experiences as an old soul in a young body. It was hard to put something together that she has never seen in poetry before, according to her.
Ayers said that she had always wanted to write a book, but it was taking HPR 147: Writing for Love and Loss during her freshman year that drove her to get it done. It met for three hours every Monday to discuss heavy topics, according to Ayers, so she lovingly coined it her “dead person class.”
“One of the assignments was to write 10 things you want to do before you die,” Ayers said. “I wrote that I always wanted to publish a book. When we got into class my professor had everyone write their number one item on the board and then she went around and asked us what was stopping us from getting that one thing done. I realized that there was nothing stopping me except me thinking that I couldn’t do it.”
So Ayers wrote a finish date on a sticky note and put it on the typewriter on her desk, then got to work. She crammed writing, editing and publishing the book into the span of winter break. So far, “Gin and Juice Boxes” has sold over 100 copies and counting through Amazon’s Kindle Direct self-publishing service.
Ayers said that many people she has interacted with in her life from her coworkers to her middle school teachers have bought her book and told her they connected with it.
“For someone who has always written for herself – finding that other people can connect to my writing is amazing,” Ayers said.
Elizabeth Witkun, a sophomore at URI and friend of Ayers, illustrated the front cover of “Gin and Juice Boxes.”
“The first time reading the book was exciting because I know the author and it was almost as if she was reading her poems and stories to me,” said Witkun. “Even if you don’t know Kate personally, the poems and short stories hold their own and there’s something in the book that everyone can relate to.”
Next, Ayers will continue to write but will turn her focus from poetry to fiction, though she still finds beauty in poetry.
“Poetry represents putting emotion into one small moment,” said Ayers. “It’s about the emotion and the more we can understand each other in art, the more we can indulge in other’s thoughts.”