AU junior publishes new book of poetry
“Into the Orange Grove” by Grace Hasson debuted July 28
Junior Grace Hasson, a literature major focusing on creative writing, with a minor in music, recently published “Into the Orange Grove,” a collection of poetry where self-reflection meets fantasy.
“It’s a poetry collection about my experience with mental illness and accepting myself as I am and learning to be open and connect with other people,” Hasson said. “I was learning to appreciate the good things in life.”
Three sections comprise the book: Falling leaves, Bark in knots and Sprouting roots. Each section explores Hasson’s life, but also includes elements of fantasy and mythology. Even readers who don’t have much experience with poetry should find “Into the Orange Grove” accessible, Hasson said.
“What makes the book what it is, is that it’s the coalescence of me,” she said. “That’s something that’s always going to be unique. It can only come from me.”
The summer going into her sophomore year, Hasson applied to the Creator Institute’s bSchool program, a nine-month class where students write and publish their own books under the mentorship of founder Eric Koester, a business professor at Georgetown University.
New Degree Press, a hybrid publishing company, sponsored the class. While still getting the hands-on experience that traditional publishing offers, the company allowed the students to retain full rights to their work.
“I had to raise money to help pay for the publishing and to get people to preorder it, so that’s a big thing that you would have to do if you’re self-publishing, but it’s also something you wouldn’t have to do traditionally – it’s only with the hybrid process,” Hasson said. “It’s definitely the way of the future.”
While she officially started writing the book in September 2019, she’s been writing poetry all her life and included poems she’s written over the years into her book. She does say, however, that the book couldn’t have happened without American University.
“The people who have walked through my life, and how I’ve walked it, is what influenced the book,” she said. “The people I’ve met at AU have shaped my poetry, so it would be a completely different book if I went anywhere else.”
Hasson said that her professors and the creative writing program influenced her, whether through direct instruction, buying and supporting her book, or encouraging her.
“I took a poetry class and creative writing with David Keplinger, so he’s been kind of like a mentor for me,” Hasson said. “I learned that the secret of poetry isn’t in writing them, it’s in the edit. You can write something, and it’s a poem, but until you revise it, you won’t really fall in love with it.”
Keplinger said that Hasson was a leader in his classes.
“She came in with this attitude of total excitement about learning how to write poetry and how to read it,” Keplinger said. “It was absolutely like osmosis rubbing off on the other students.”
For Hasson, this is only the start. Though “Into the Orange Grove” only came out in July, she’s already started to think about her next book. Hasson said that she’ll probably return to poetry, but she wants to give fiction a chance.
“Into the Orange Grove” is available to purchase here.