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A stint in the Army and a Robin Williams movie serve as the inspiration for Mick Kennedy’s desire to write poetry and teach at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.
Originally from Clarksville, Ind., Kennedy served in the army from 1986 to 1990. During that time he got his first taste of teaching when instructing new recruits. That also was when he saw a film that made him fall in love the idea of poetry and education, “Dead Poet’s Society.”
He started reading Emerson, Thoreau and Fitzgerald. At the time he only had a high school education and didn’t know what these poets were talking about but wanted to know more.
That gave him a push and 23 years later he’s a professor at ECTC.
Kennedy, 50, began teaching at ECTC in 1999.
Teaching lets him do a job he loves and get to know students.
“In creative writing we have had some exceptional talent come through these hallways,” Kennedy said.
Some students plan to follow a career in writing and some are just good writers who plan a career in something else.
Through his work at the school and a love of literary journals, Kennedy was able to start a journal called “Heartland Review" at ECTC.
He wanted something simple that paid homage to the first poetry journals he fell in love with, he said.
From his experience in writing poetry and sending work out to be published, he knew it can be difficult and wanted to have a journal that allowed people to publish their poetry.
Sharing your work can get competitive, he said.
The concept was to have a journal from the heart of Kentucky, a state he said has some of the most amazing poets and writers in the country.
The journal went through a bit of a face-lift recently. While the content and submissions remain the same the cover has a newer, more modern look that he said makes it more accessible without loosing its essence.
At the core of his teaching and promotion of other’s work is a love of poetry.
“Poetry for me is a mystical, spiritual experience,” he said.
Through poetic expression, an author or reader can look at the world in different ways and express their version of the world with different languages and imagery, he said.
“It helps us to better understand ourselves and the world that surrounds us,” Kennedy said.
Consider love as a theme. If you put all the poems written about love together, he said, it becomes a cubist work of art because there are many different angles, planes and ways to understand a very common experience.
He enjoys exploring and playing with language to come up with different ways to express ideas so other people can get a better understanding of themselves, he said.
And while some students don’t develop an appreciation of poetry, he enjoys breaking it down for them, helping them understand the concept and structure of poetry.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.
Getting to know Mick Kennedy:
Movie: “The Big Lebowski” and his favorite director is Stanley Kubrick.
Book: It’s hard for him to pin down his favorite book but he enjoys Dan Chiassn’s “Natural History” and “Salt Water Amnesia” by Jeffrey Skinner.
Music: The Beatles
TV: His wife got him into “The Big Bang Theory.” He also enjoyed the mini-series “John Adams.”
Family: His wife, Katrina, is working on her master's degree to become an elementary school teacher. “She’s been a wonderful companion,” he said.
Pets: Three cats