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KT Herr ’07

Alumnae Poet

KT Herr

KT Herr (she/her & they/them) is a queer poet, songwriter, educator, and curious person from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They hold a BA in English Language & Literature from Smith College, where they were awarded the Ruth Forbes Eliot Poetry Prize and the Rosemary Thomas Poetry Prize. While earning their MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, they received a Jane Cooper Fellowship and the 2019-20 Thomas Lux Award. They are also the grateful recipient of a 2019 Pabst Fellowship to attend the Atlantic Center for the Arts. 

KT’s poems have been selected as finalists in the Frontier OPEN Prize and the Palette Poetry Spotlight Award; as semifinalist for the 92Y Discovery Contest; and as winner of the 2020 Sweet Lit Poetry Contest. Additionally, their writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from SWWIM, Barrow Street 4x2, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The Rupture, and elsewhere. 

KT has worked as a teaching artist for the Sunnyside Creative Writing Program, a coordinator for the Right-to-Write program, a publishing intern with Black Lawrence Press, and as director of the Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival. In a past life, KT slung beers and built charcuterie boards. Presently, they spend time as a ghostwriter, community educator, podcast producer, and plant mom. They currently make their home in Seattle, WA, where they are in love with a growing menagerie of house plants, mountains wearing hats, and a fellow Smithie.

Select Poems

We’re on the bench around the corner from the red

brick maze behind the jungle gym & Morgan is teaching me

how to make a tune with only my two small

hands. Like this, she says, & folds concave

palms, fingers cupped as though sequestering

a captured hummingbird. She puckers

chapped lips up to her aperture of bent

thumbs, chirps blow, then looses a hoot from puffed

cheeks, owl-bright & eerie

under gathering clouds. Nightshade berries

stain my knees. I slobber myself spitless

against knuckles that won’t sound. Meanwhile,

boys play tag. At lunch Morgan told us

the only girls Chris whips with his sweatshirt

are girls he wants to kiss. Morgan

is the only girl Chris whips

with his sweatshirt. Morgan is the only girl

Ms. Wooley picked twice for line-leader. I crouch

center-maze on crumbled brick, kissing

my hand. I crush the invisible

bird, make it a mouth. Then a church. Here

is the steeple. Open the doors, see

how the walls are pocked

with soil. Dirty, torn-nail

parishioners. Ms. Wooley calls, but I’m holding

choir auditions. At Chris’s locker, I make

the caught-bird shape

and say like this, my thumbs tucked

inside, wrong, but we blow

until our hands are slick with

spit, giggles rounding the hall, sweatshirt sleeves

pushed past our elbows. I can’t decide

whose hands make a better cage.

Originally published in Small Orange