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English alumna Gabrielle Bates to publish poetry book in January 2023

Gabrielle Bates and Judas Goat book cover

Gabrielle Bates '13 will release her first book, "Judas Goat,” in January 2023. “Judas Goat,” a collection of 40 poems, "plumbs the depths of intimate relationships and conjures encounters with figures from scriptures, domesticated animals eyeing the wild and mothering as a shapeshifting, spectral force.”

Bates’ writing process included using the world around her to curate and shape each individual poem.

“When I first started writing it near the end of my time at Auburn, I didn’t know I was writing a book necessarily. I hoped I was,” said Bates. “It was really focusing poem by poem and letting each piece be as rich of a world as I could make it.”

After a few years of curating a large collection of poems, Bates began cultivating a book. According to Bates, this was a longer process than she originally thought.

“I was able to start playing around with how these poems might be talking to one another in the context of a book,” said Bates. “I thought when I got to that stage in the process, I’d be able to have a book in no time. That tinkering and rearranging phase took several years and I’m grateful to my editor at Tin House for helping with those final adjustments.”

Bates’ anticipation for the book’s release comes as a relief in some regards, and as mixed emotions in others.

“The thing I’m most excited for is also the thing that terrifies me the most, which is this book will be different to every single person who reads it,” said Bates. “Readers bring so much to any book, poetry in particular. There are so many different ways of reading, interpreting and internalizing a poem. I am really excited to hear people’s experiences but it’s also scary to invite readers to interpret poems and act almost as a collaborator.”

While Bates began to write toward “Judas Goat” during her time at Auburn, her experiences in courses the College of Liberal Arts offered were instrumental in shaping her writing style.

“Courses like Film as Literature invited me to learn about how imagery works,” said Bates. “Looking at a film, pausing it every few seconds and writing about what I saw helped me understand the importance of visual aspects in writing. That practice of putting pictures into works has had a huge impact on my poetics. There are poems that I think of as short films using language.”

Bates also speaks about how important community was to her during her time in the College of Liberal Arts.

“I also want to shout out that my time at Auburn was the first time I had a community of writers,” said Bates. “I had dear friends that were also passionate about trying to write and figuring out what this weird world of writing could be.”

In addition to coursework and communities at Auburn, Bates was moved by her day-to-day experiences. There is even a poem in the book inspired by being a college student attending Auburn.

"There is a poem called ‘The lucky ones’ which references my time at Auburn, which is where I met the love of my life,” said Bates. “We were both there and falling in love so there are references to love as a college student. The Toomer’s trees were also poisoned around that time so there is a reference to that as well.”

Bates advises those interested in poetry, publishing and even those interested in just having fun with writing to find a community.

“Daring to be within a community will serve you so well,” said Bates. “It will give you encouragement, nourishment and support when the publishing world won’t give you those things. Writing books can be a stamina game, so that close community is vital to keep you writing and revising. If you stay in it and keep growing as a writer, I am a firm believer that the book will happen.”

Bates will come to Auburn University on March 16, 2023, for the Southern Humanities Review Spring Sessions reading event.

“I hope to see people there," said Bates. “I feel so lucky to come back to the place where this book really began with the finished product in hand.”

 “Judas Goat” will be available January 24, 2023. Preorder your copy here.

For more information about creative writing in the College of Liberal Arts, visit here.

Tags: English

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