English professor figures out life one poem at a time


Christine Stewart-Nunez’s poetry ranges from topics of lost love to her son’s epilepsy, creating an outlet she uses to help “figure out life.” 

Stewart-Nunez, an associate professor in the English department, will be reading poems from her new books “Bluewords Greening” and “Untrussed.” The reading will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27 in the Archives, Upper Level of the Briggs Library. 

According to Emmeline Elliott, library operations manager at Briggs Library, such events are organized to promote any local or other artists who want to share their work.

“There is a particular draw from the English department, but the event is open to the public as long as they can enjoy the cultural and social value of the event,” Elliott said.

Stewart-Nunez teaches creative writing and other literature classes, but she has also written four poetry books, a few chapbooks (smaller books of poetry) and award-winning essays.

“As a professor, I try to use different interests as a gateway to poetry,” Stewart-Nunez said. “I can convert a lot of people to poetry not by saying it’s poetry but by saying ‘you have this interest here, apply it to this book of poetry.’”

There is a variety of inspiration for her book “Untrussed,” Stewart-Nunez said.

“Mostly it’s reflections on desire, love and broken relationships,” Stewart-Nunez said. “Some relationships that I had, some places that I have visited or friends’ relationships that I learned about.” 

Stewart-Nunez’s 10-year-old son has a rare epilepsy syndrome that inspired her to write “Bluewords Greening.” 

“‘Bluewords’ came as a made up word that I used to kind of play with — the idea, that sometimes he [her son] can’t use language and sometimes he makes up words of his own,”  Stewart-Nunez said. 

The word “greening” comes from the Latin word “veriditas,” which means the power to heal the soul or bloom.  

The South Dakota Art Museum is also displaying Stewart-Nunez’s work, “Woman Working from Women: A Poetry Ekphrasis.” Poems are displayed along with the paintings that inspired them. The exhibition runs during the fall semester through Sunday, Dec. 4.