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Williamsport author publishes first book of poetry

November 20, 2008|By CHRIS COPLEY

Growing up in Montgomery County, Md., Kristine Bainbridge spent many a weekend at the Mason-Dixon Dragway, southeast of Hagerstown. The whole family - Mom, Dad, brother and herself - drove at the dragway. It was part of their family culture.

Bainbridge loved the family's time at the track, but she struggled in other areas. To help, she turned to poetry.

"I wrote my very first poem when I was 5," she said during an interview at The Herald-Mail. "I wrote seriously when I was 13. I started using it as a therapy, to work through negative feelings and problems."

Bainbridge, 26 and now a Williamsport resident, has published a collection of poems. Called "Semi-Artistic Failures," the collection represents about a decade of writing poems and short scenes, she said. The poems are personal, stream-of-consciousness musings about anger, heartbreak, regret and death.

The majority of poems are about Bainbridge's feelings toward other people.

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"Eighty percent of the book's poems are about relationship issues," she said. "A couple are about (deaths). And there's a couple about conflicts with family members."

Underlying much of her work is her struggle to accept herself.

"(I write about) trying to live with other people's definition of perfect," she said. "It took me a long time to be OK with myself. But now I know that I'm not perfect and that's OK."

In "Liberation," she writes:

"My lipstick's long worn off

And my mascara is badly smudged

But I finally feel so beautiful

And it's coming from within"

Most of the book's poetry is written in rhythm and rhyme.

"I don't set out to write it that way. That's how it flows," she said. "There are some (poems) that don't have rhythm and rhyme."

Typically, poets who write in structured forms seek to balance their poem's theme and emotional content with the rigidity of meter and rhyme. Bainbridge said she will stretch or bend her structure to let her message be plain to readers.

Bainbridge said self-image is important to her. In particular, she wants to encourage girls especially to ignore "all the media out there" implying that there's only one standard way to look or behave.

Fortunately, Bainbridge's parents encouraged her to pursue her interests, even if she got involved in unusual activities, such as drag racing or writing poetry. Writing in particular let Bainbridge blossom.

"Writing is never a failure. Anytime you put your thoughts on paper, on the computer, it's authentic to you," she said. "This is true to me, and that's what you have to do."

And that's how Bainbridge sees her book.

"Maybe 100 people see this (book) and they don't get it," she said. "But the 101st will read it and get what I was trying to say."

Bainbridge will sign copies of her new book at Waldenbooks in Valley Mall in Hagerstown from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22.

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