WALKING IN THE WILD: AMY PEARSON
Flathead Valley Community College
- Go for a hike in the Bob Marshall Wilderness!
Poet and professor Amy Pearson moved full-time to Kalispell three years ago, not long after she spent 100 days as a fire lookout in one of the most remote sections of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The experience inspired a book of poetry, “100 Days of Solitude,” that Pearson has spent the past several years promoting and discussing throughout the region. Pearson now works as a professor at Flathead Valley Community College, but still finds plenty of time to indulge her outdoor passion and even hopes to return to a fire lookout sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Q: Why did you choose to make Kalispell your home?
A: I work here, for one reason, and the other is that I like the size of the city and I like the people here, too. I think there are a lot of people who have deep roots to the Flathead and I like hanging out with them and learning about them. It feels like Montana but a unique little sector of that. I think a lot of people in Kalispell are pretty settled and I like the variety of ages here, too. There’s a lot of kids but there’s also older folks, and that’s enlivening for me. It’s in the center of the valley so it’s a lot of easy access to other areas, too.
Q: How did you come to work at Flathead Valley Community College?
A: I had heard about the college and especially the poet Lowell Jaeger (Jaeger was named Montana’s poet laureate in 2017). I had heard of him so when I decided I might stay in the Flathead I came over and had a conversation with him and he was excited about having me teach a couple of classes. Lowell’s office is right next to mine.
Q: Kalispell is a pretty creative community. How have you, as a poet, enjoyed becoming part of that community?
A: In Kalispell in particular I would say a lot of that is based out of FVCC and talking to people about what they’re working on. Artistry-wise, there are so many people working on interesting things and meeting each other at certain events and being supportive of each other’s efforts.
Q: You’ve been busy touring to promote “100 Days of Solitude,” what’s next for you?
A: This year I’m kind of trying to take a little bit of a rest, to be honest. I just started my tenure track position and I’m focused on teaching and figuring out the ropes of the college. I’m going to teach an honors class about the psychology of wilderness, and I’m also working the Many Voices Symposium (in April 2019). We will have eight FVCC students tell us their stories of hardship and how they “got through.” It should be incredibly inspiring!