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Mount Vernon girl becomes published poet

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By Rachel Christian

Abbey Oden had never written much poetry prior to her creative writing class last year at the University of Southern Indiana.

That’s why the Mount Vernon High School graduate was a little surprised to learn that three of her poems had been selected to appear in FishHook, USI’s annual student humanities publication.

“I was really excited when I first found out,” she said. “I actually didn’t tell anyone I was submitting my work, so I was excited to tell my family and friends.” 

The 22-year-old is currently majoring in English with a minor in teaching at the university. An avid reader, Oden said her love for writing stemmed directly from her love for literature.

“When I was in elementary school, I was actually grounded from books for a while,” Oden said with a laugh. “I would just hole up in my room all day and read until my mom made me take a break.”

As a young teenager, Oden discovered a passion for writing, and said short stories are her favorite things to write. She hopes to one day publish a novel or collection of short stories.

Oden, who is set to graduate from USI next December, moved to Mount Vernon with her family in the third grade, and said she felt a special connection to the community from the beginning. She was active in groups like DECA during high school, and served as the yearbook editor-in-chief her senior year.

In December 2016, she and her long time boyfriend purchased a home together in Mount Vernon. Oden said her ultimate goal is to return to her high school as an English teacher after she finishes school.
“I would love to stay local and teach here,” she said. I was very involved in the school when I went there, and I think it would be awesome to go back in a different role.”

The college student said her creative writing class at USI made her more comfortable with different forms of writing, like poetry, that she had limited experience with beforehand. With her professor’s encouragement, Oden submitted three pieces for USI’s annual student art and literary magazine.

“I had never really done anything with poetry until then, and I was nervous because that was a majority of the class,” she explained. “But as the semester went on, I improved, and now I like the challenge of writing something impactful and shortening it as much as possible while still making it mean the most.”

Oden said she draws inspiration for her work from real life experiences, including everything from the extraordinary to the mundane. Her piece “Waitressing at B-dubs” details the more unsavory aspects of her part time job at Buffalo Wild Wings, complete with “creepy cooks, never ending dishes” and “the college students who don’t tip.”

“I feel like honest writing is my best writing,” she said. “It was great to be published and have that recognized.”