As a piano performance major in the University of Hartford’s The Hartt School,Kelia Ingraham ’17 is used to being in front of an audience. But it was her writing, not music that put her center stage in February. Kelia was the University’s winning entrant in the 2017 Connecticut Poetry Circuit, a reading tour held at colleges and universities across Connecticut.
Kelia, an English minor in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences, competed against 14 other UHart students for a spot on the tour, which includes three other students from Connecticut colleges. Kelia worked to get her poems ready for the public with Professor Benjamin Grossberg, the faculty mentor for Poetry Circuit students.
“My work was mostly seeing if there was any way I could help the poems do what they were already doing, but just a little more,” explains Grossberg. “I helped her make sure the poems were fully realized.”
Kelia decided to enter the competition after taking Grossberg’s poetry class last year. Her confidence got a boost after receiving feedback from her classmates and while working with Grossberg on Aerie, the English Department’s literary journal of students' work. But it was still a challenge.
“I get nervous reading poems,” Kelia, a native of Kennebunk, Maine, explains. “This is a much more personal type of performing than piano, which is also very personal. But they use a similar part of my creativity, just in different ways. I’m a very creative person, so whether I’m sitting down to write a poem or I am playing piano, it taps into the same thing.”
Right now, Kelia plans to focus on music after graduation. She is applying to graduate schools to study collaborative piano, which will set her up for a career playing with chamber groups and choirs. She also plans to continue to teach piano and play at her churches. Professor Grossberg has a different prediction.
“You will find happy, gainful employment with the piano,” he told Kelia. “But you’ll never stop doing both music and writing. I think by the time you are 30, you’ll have your MFA in creative writing and be publishing.” He has already promised to write a letter of recommendation.