Alumna reads award-winning work virtually

Alumna reads award-winning work virtually

“I never imagined that I’d return to PC to give a reading from a book I’d written,” said Julia Koets ’05.

But last month, Koets did return to her alma mater, although virtually, for the second time to read from her published work. Koets is the sixth reader in the English department’s Alumni Reading Series.

“Excitement about books . . . was contagious”

Koets, an assistant professor of creative nonfiction at the University of South Florida, says she didn’t know if she’d ever publish when she was a student at PC.

“I was just starting to learn about the publishing process then,” she said.

Koets majored in English and says the literature courses she took were “foundational” to her “relationship with writing and reading.”

“I took courses with Dr. Simpson, Dr. Thompson, Dr. Brent, and Mr. Stutts, and their excitement about the books we read was contagious,” she said.

“The professors at PC taught me how to close read the books we discussed in class, and that close attention to detail and language has impacted the way I approach writing, as well.”

Seeing “familiar faces”

“Seeing so many familiar faces at the reading was wonderful,” Koets said.

After the reading, Koets told a friend about “how great it was” to see her former English professors.

“Having attended a large university with a big English department, my friend said she didn’t think her professors would remember her,” Koets said.

“It’s one of the great things about PC: that the classes are small, and you really get to know your professors.”

Award-winning work

Koets read from The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays, which won the 2017 Red Hen Press Nonfiction Award.

The title has several allusions, including a reference to a barbecue restaurant where Koets worked in her hometown.

“The rib, of course, is also a central image in the biblical creation story, and since Eve was made from Adam’s rib, the rib is tied to cultural mythologies about gender, sexuality, power, religion, and creation,” Koets said.

“In writing about the body, queerness, and my experience growing up in the church, I was interested in how the ribs protect some of our most vital organs, including the heart and the lungs, but also how they form a cage, a structure that keeps certain things in and others out.”

According to her website, Koets’ essays and poems have been published or are forthcoming in literary journals including Creative Nonfiction, Indiana Review, Nimrod, The Los Angeles Review, Carolina Quarterly, and Portland Review. Her new poetry book, Pine, comes out April 5, 2021.

Major in English

Please visit the English Department to learn more about the major that created a solid foundation for Julia.