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UP poet laureate is California transplant

HOUGHTON – Perhaps unexpectedly for a U.P. poet laureate, Andrea Scarpino of Marquette has only lived in the area for five years, moving here from California. Wherever she lives, she tries to immerse herself in the place. Without her consciously trying, she said, it’s shown up in her poems; the desert, fire and ocean imagery of her Los Angeles work has shifted to Lake Superior and winter. “My new book that’s coming out in March has a recurring figure of a red pine grove, which was entirely from being in Marquette and hiking and walking through these beautiful red pine groves,” she said during a December visit to Michigan Tech.

She also frequently writes in elegy, which she attributes to a “summer of death” in which her grandmother, father and a friend all died. A good friend’s daughter also later died in a car accident.

“I had this sense of ‘I can’t get out from under my grief,'” she said. “Every time I started to feel better, it seemed like somebody else died. I think to try to process that, and make sense of that, I started reading elegies.”

In addition to showing poetry as an active art form, Scarpino hopes her work will help people feel less alone.

“That’s something I look for in literature, is when I’m having my worst days, or I’m feeling my most pessimistic, is to read a piece and feel ‘This person knows. I’m not so alone in this crazy huge world,'” she said.