Eruption of the Strange: Former UWEC Prof Publishes Debut Collection

Katie Vagnino’s poetry is a ‘little weird and unusual ... and maybe a little bit fun’

Rebecca Mennecke |

Poet Katie Vagnino describes her debut poetry collection, Imitation Crab, as a little bit like an uncomfortable laugh – it focuses on surreal, weird stuff. “It’s a little weird and unusual,” Vagnino said, “... and maybe a little bit fun.”

Her collection, which hits bookshelves on Feb. 5, examines the blurry line between authenticity and artificiality. “We’re trying to live authentically,” Vagnino said, “but we’re also constantly filtering ourselves through lenses like social media.” There’s a feminist angle to the book, Vagnino adds, as many of the poems feature female speakers, or characters who are failing to live up to gender expectations, vilified for their expression of sexual desire, and express discomfort with aging.

The collection, according to friends, is an “eruption of the strange."

She began working on the bulk of the collection when she was a graduate student, though the poems have evolved and changed over time. With help from local poets Bruce Taylor and Jon Loomis, Vagnino arranged her poems to tell a complex story comprising different aspects of her life. 

Alliteration. Assonance. Rhyme. Vagnino’s poetry encapsulates sound and texture, with challenging moments of her poetry clashing with harsh, staccato sounds. “Poetry should be musical,” she said. “That’s one of the really key things that differentiates it from prose.” 

If you order Imitation Crab before Dec. 11 through Finishing Line Press, it will benefit Vagnino, as the period before Dec. 11 is used to determine the size of the print run and her royalty percentage. Snag a copy for yourself at