Tiger Talk: College in Schools class gets a taste of higher education

Students meet poet Jenny Xie

Rachel Warg's College in Schools World Literature Class attends a poetry reading by Chinese-American poet Jenny Xie. Contributed / Pine River-Backus School District

On Oct. 29, the College in Schools World Literature class had the opportunity to visit Central Lakes College in Brainerd. CIS Chair Paul Preimesberger and Collaborator Adam Marcotte greeted students.

They had CLC students introduce PR-B students to aspects of college life, had a tour of the facilities and attended the college’s Verse Like Water program where they witnessed their first poetry reading by up-and-coming Chinese-American poet Jenny Xie.

Jenny Xie is the author of "Eye Level" (Graywolf Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the National Book Award; and "Nowhere to Arrive" (Northwestern University Press, 2017), recipient of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Prize. Her poems appear in "Poetry" magazine, the "American Poetry Review," the "New Republic," "Tin House" and elsewhere. She earned degrees from Princeton University and New York University's Creative Writing Program, and has received fellowships and support from Kundiman, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Elizabeth George Foundation, and Poets & Writers. She teaches at New York University.” (

Students were able to listen to her “craft talk'' afterward, and each received a signed copy of her new book "Eye Level." This sparked great conversations on the bus ride home, as students were able to visualize what Xie was talking about as she read some of her work.

The biggest takeaway by all was that “not all poetry is boring.” Exposing students to something this simple, but in a new way, has been an invaluable experience.


How many people can say they have attended a real poetry reading with a famous author? When it comes to poetry, most people think of “some old (or dead) white guy” that is dry, boring and doesn’t make any sense, let alone write about anything relatable to their own lives.

This experience highlighted some of what is necessary to be a good writer - poetry or anything else - and we all left feeling enlightened.

Thank you for supporting our students as they partake in these once-in-a-lifetime educational experiences!

Rachel Warg teaches English at Pine River-Backus High School.

Pine River-Backus Schools Tiger Talk

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