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By Kalista Puhnaty & Rome Smaoui
At last September’s Idyllwild Arts Academy faculty showcase, new Poet-In-Residence Caylin Capra-Thomas proved her talent. One student turned to a peer, mouth agape, and said, “She’s amazing!”
Caylin’s humor and kindness have been welcome additions to the Creative Writing Department. She grew up in Massachusetts and Vermont and has been writing poetry since fourth grade and teaching since 2010. Her teaching experience includes ESL classes in France as well as juvenile detention centers, community creative-writing workshops, and the University of Montana, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry.
“There was a minute where I thought maybe I’d do something else,” she admits. “But I always come back to teaching. It’s challenging and satisfying in a way that many other things aren’t.”
It’s clear that Caylin is passionate about her career. Her personality and striking teaching style emerge in writing lessons that have included using an episode of Seinfeld to teach poetry.
She says Idyllwild Arts is “awesome. Probably once a day, I look at the people around me and think, ‘I can’t believe I get to be here.’”
Caylin’s chapbooks, Inside My Electric City and The Marilyn Letters, are available from YesYes Books and dancing girl press, respectively. Her current project is “a collection of poems from the voices of creatures from myth, folklore, and fairytale, particularly cryptids like Bigfoot and Mothman—I still have to write that Mothman poem.”
“Monsters tell us a lot about what it means to be human,” she laughs. “They’re a product of the human imagination.”
She adds that monsters give us “a way to look at, scrutinize, criticize, and sometimes wonder about humans. Most things come down to an interest in human beings.”