Power of Poetry

From her theater work to becoming editor-in-chief of a literary journal, Noelle Niemeier is determined to prove writing is just as important as careers in STEM.

Niemeier, an English major on the creative writing track, wanted to work in writing ever since she was a little kid. She began journaling song lyrics and channeling her emotions through poetry during high school. Today, she continues to hone her craft.

She has been involved with LandEscapes, WSU’s student-run literary arts journal, her entire time at WSU, and it has been the most valuable experience for her, she said. She joined in her first year as a poetry editor, served as the managing editor for two years and as the editor-in-chief .

She said her favorite memory at WSU is the 2022 release party at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art last year. Presenting the journal and publication surrounded by art was a highlight.

In April, Niemeier received a President’s Award for Leadership and she graduated from WSU at the end of fall semester in December 2022.

Experiences and memories

Niemeier chose WSU because she wanted the small-town experience. She also heard about the creative writing program and felt she could express her creativity there.

“I chose English and creative writing to hone those skills and, in a way, prove to any disbelievers that … anything artistic or creative is important and part of a well-rounded education. I fell in love with the English department here at WSU. [The faculty and staff] are all amazing and I think of them all as like my fairy godmothers. Every single one of them is so passionate, and I am happy I went down that path,” she said.

Colin Criss, assistant professor of English, first met Niemeier when he substituted for a poetry class she was taking.

“Noelle is one of the strongest students in English that I have ever taught,” Criss said. “Primarily because of her commitment to language as both a part of humanity and a tool for the creation of the development of humanity.”

Niemeier is also a student in the WSU Honors College, where her courses were challenging but fun. She said her favorite class was any creative writing course with scholarly assistant professor Cameron McGill.

His classes “changed my perspective on everything, especially as a freshman coming into WSU,” she said. “I took Poetry & Lyrics (Honors 280) with him and Intro to Creative Writing. All the materials used, the textbooks, the peer interaction — everything was so valuable and I still think about it almost every day.”

Another of her favorite memories at WSU was presenting her honors thesis.

“It was a struggle working and writing it, and then I finally got to my presentation and passed with excellence,” she said. “I am proud of it, and I get to read my poem at the Honors College graduation ceremony. It all turned out to be poignant and every experience was special.”

In addition to taking classes, Niemeier has worked at the Brelsford WSU Visitor Center, a front door to the campus and Pullman for several years. Niemeier applied because she was interested in a job that would help her learn about WSU and it seemed like an excellent job for a first-year student, she said.

Her job at the Visitor’s Center also allows her to express her creativity. “It has been helpful to learn there are jobs that allow for personal creativity,” she said. “That is something missing from a lot of employment options—the idea of allowing people to be creative and authentic.”

Alisa Volz, a senior multimedia journalism major, met Niemeier through the musical comedy play that Niemeier directed last year.

“She is so kind, compassionate and helpful,” Volz said. “Without hesitation, she has gone above and beyond to help me, and I appreciate her so much. At her core, she [is] such a kind, genuine person.”

The beauty of Ireland

This past summer, Niemeier joined other WSU students on a faculty-led summer study abroad course. The Poetry and the Universal Landscape course was based in Dublin, Ireland, and included trips to towns and sights across the island as well as opportunities to meet several Irish poets and read some of their work.

“My favorite moments were the quiet moments of enjoying nature,” Niemeier said. “There is this one area called The Burren that is this flat area of limestone rock, and it looks like the edge of the world. It was so beautiful; I wrote a poem about it.”

During her last semester in Pullman this fall, Neimeier is a member of the University committee organizing WSU’s first observance of the National Day of Racial Healing in January.

As she leaves WSU, Niemeier encourages students to pursue creativity, even if society discourages them.

“As young people, we have many influences in our ears constantly telling us what we need to do and focus on,” Niemeier said. “Following your happiness and finding love in the sense of friends and family, [while] staying connected to your passions is going to be more important than anything anyone tells you.”

Top photo: Noelle Niemeier currently works for the Brelsford WSU Visitor Center and LandEscapes.

Adapted from story by Grey Kamasz, The Daily Evergreen