Poet Kate Baer ’07 debuts with No. 1 NYT bestseller

Kate Baer’s first book of poetry, “What Kind of Woman,” has lived up to its book jacket descriptor as a “stunning and honest debut poetry collection about the beauty and hardships of being a woman in the world today, and the many roles we play – mother, partner, and friend.”

The 2007 EMU alumna’s collection debuted at #1 on the New York Times fiction bestseller list two weeks ago.

Join EMU’s Language and Literature Department and Alumni Office for a Writers Read with Kate, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26. Register for the webinar or watch on Facebook Live.

Her first book is dedicated to all of her teachers in honor of “their integral role in my life and incredibly important work in the lives of so many others,” she said. “Their encouragement and love of language instilled a sense of longing in me to keep pushing myself, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.”

One of those teachers first introduced her to poetry at EMU. The English major took a class with former professor Michael Ann Courtney, and “that’s where I fell in love with this sort of boiled down storytelling,” Baer said.

Kate Baer 07 in a photo taken by husband Austin Baer ’06.

Before that, it was the high school teacher who handed her a copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, an entirely new style of story which set off a “visceral reaction.”

Baer’s first foray into authorship began with a blog in 2011 called “Motley Mama.” Her frank, intimate and funny insights into motherhood, married life and life in general moved her into wider venues, including at eponymously named blog. In 2014, she gained still more attention (and millions of hits) with the essay “When You are Tightly Wound,” eventually further published by Huffington Post.

Read 2014 EMU News coverage here of Kate’s success here.

Read a recent Vogue review: “The Instagram Poet for People who Don’t Like Instagram Poetry.”

Baer says sitting atop the NYT Bestseller list is “exciting and lovely.” She celebrated with champagne. More books are being printed.

“But right now there is still a global pandemic and I’m still trapped in my bedroom office working on a second book that has its own deadlines and stories to tell. I’m very grateful, but my actual work life remains the same.”

Baer is married to Austin Baer ‘06. They and their four children live near Hershey, Pa.