Three recent alumnae of Carnegie Mellon's Creative Writing program — Anne Marie Rooney (HS '07), Sarah Smith (HS '05) and Karen Rigby (HS '01) — were among just 50 artists chosen for the annual anthology "Best New Poets 2008: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers."
Rooney's work has appeared in a number of publications. She says her selection for the anthology was a special thrill considering it was edited by Mark Strand, a former Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner.
"I was shocked!" said Rooney, describing her reaction to hearing the news. "I felt so honored not only to be chosen by a poet I so respect, but also to appear alongside Sarah and Karen, peers whose work I love."
Her defining creative bent began with an early love of literature.
"I started writing because I love to read," she explained. "Part of me still believes that if something goes unrecorded, it never happened. I write because I have no idea — no idea — what I would do if I didn't."
"Carnegie Mellon was absolutely the perfect place for me," Rooney added. "The writing faculty were the best teachers I have ever had. They were so supportive, always generous with their time, and really made me believe in what I was doing from early on."
Smith agrees her time at Carnegie Mellon prepared her well.
"We had unmitigated access to excellent faculty," she explained. "The writing program takes student writing seriously — and does an excellent job of preparing its students for the pragmatic aspects of the writing world. It was the perfect fit for me, absolutely."
Like Smith and Rooney, the seeds of Rigby's creativity were planted young.
"Like most writers, I started by having that avid love of reading in childhood, and over time, it seemed like a natural move to want to be a writer like those I'd admired," she said.
Also like her peers Carnegie Mellon was important toward shaping that interest into a professional art form.
"Carnegie Mellon played every role in shaping the path I would eventually take," said Rigby. "It further cemented the interest I'd had in all things literary."