My name is Babette Cieskowski and I'm a poet. My interest in poetry began through music, and I gravitated towards lyrics and poems at a very young age. I currently teach writing and English at Columbus College of Art & Design, and I love being an educator and working with students!
I was born in Oahu, Hawaii, but spent most of my life in South Florida (around the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area). I moved to Germany when I was 10, but returned to South Florida for the bulk of my education. I also briefly lived in Johnson City, Texas in between earning my BA and applying to graduate schools. All these places have shaped me, so this question is always hard to answer for me!
I went to Florida Atlantic University for my BA in English in Boca Raton, FL, and I moved to Columbus, OH to earn my MFA in Poetry from The Ohio State University.
Interest in working with incarcerated populations:
I've always been interested in how our society labels someone as objectively "bad" or "good." I have family members who struggle with substance abuse issues and various forms of trauma, and in certain contexts, they would be seen as "criminals" and not people who have been affected by outside forces designed to oppress them. After finishing my MFA degree, I worked within a reentry residential facility for women who have been affected by substance abuse and human trafficking within the local Columbus area. I ran writing and poetry workshops with the women there, and they taught me the complexities of what it means to be a woman within a repressive society. My time working with the women in that program is invaluable to me, and I think about them still. I wanted to continue to work with people who have been affected by incarceration regardless of how they arrived in whatever carceral system they were placed in.
Most looking forward to in this new role:
I'm excited to work with a strong, intellectually stimulating group of women! I'm also very excited to be a part of a program that is centered in prison abolition and actively works towards dismantling systems of oppression. In my experience, my education has allowed me to liberate myself from compulsive heteronormativity and shame, and I want to pass that liberation onto others with the hope that they can liberate themselves how they see fit.