What Kind Of Woman is Kate Baer | Harrisburg Author

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Kate Baer | What Kind Of Woman

Harrisburg-based author Kate Baer released a book of poems late last year, which quickly shot to the top of The New York Times Bestseller List. SB contributor Hope Frick interviewed Baer about ‘What Kind of Woman.’

Instagram has given us a front-row seat to the show that is the lives of our friends, our non-friends, celebrities, families, our favorite brands … of pretty much anyone. And while it’s great to see what everyone is up to all the time, it can be a bit draining and leaves me left with feelings of inadequacy.

So, scrolling Kate Baer’s feed has been a virtual breath of fresh air. The author, whose recently released book of poetry, What Kind of Woman, instantly reached number one on The New York Times Best Sellers List, bares the realness of real-life through eloquent yet blunt prose detailing her experiences as a wife, as a mother, and as a woman.

Her vulnerability has made her not only a best-selling author but a social media sensation as well, as readers everywhere continue to share the brilliant bits from her book and feed.

Kate was generous enough to take time amidst the buzz of her release to chat with me to talk about her inspiration as a writer, the way social media has upended the writing game, and her perfect Harrisburg day.

A conversation with Kate Baer

HF: Okay, let’s get the background out of the way — How did you get into writing? Did you always write poems, or did you find this passion from a different path? I love the story you shared behind ‘What Kind of Woman.’ Thank you for using that experience to craft such meaningful and vulnerable messages.

KB: I have always been a writer. All through elementary school, middle school, high school–some really, truly terrible writing of course–but that was always my thing. And then when I got to college I ended up majoring in English lit, despite everyone’s suggestion to also get an education major so I could teach. 

After graduation I did what all English majors do and got a bunch of really random jobs. I worked at a music academy, cleaned houses, did accountant work for a builder even though I could barely do basic math. All the while I kept writing. It wasn’t until after I had kids when I started to put my work out where people could read it. I started with a small blog which grew to a bigger blog and then I started putting pieces out on Huffington Post. 

After that the Internet kind of changed and I did too. The mommy blog market was very saturated and I became very disenchanted with blogs and mommy social media. It was around that time that I got an agent. She contacted me after a piece of mine went viral and we became fast friends. 

Together we came up with a plan. I decided I was ready to take a break from personal narrative and for four years, I worked on a novel instead. I learned a lot during that time. I learned I love writing fiction and I also learned the most basic rule of writing which is the only way to grow is to write on a consistent schedule. Writing that book was a huge learning curve. I may never publish it, but I’ll always be grateful for the time I spent in those pages. Basically I treat that time like a less expensive MFA program. 

As for poetry specifically, I’ve always read it but I felt like I couldn’t write it. I thought I had to be some grad student smoking a pipe wandering around Venice. Then I just kind of just went for it. Mary Oliver had just died and I was rereading her books and realized how much I love this kind of boiled down storytelling. So I started cheating on my novel with poetry, and the result was thrilling. It felt like witchcraft…how you can take a few sentences and give someone an entire worldview. 

In today’s world, social media makes artists so much more accessible. Has social media changed your writing style? 

I’m not sure it’s changed my writing life or style, it certainly changes how I interact with readers. With platforms like Instagram, it’s now possible to have a front row seat to any author or artist’s life. Of course it’s a double edged sword. On one hand, you have an opportunity to connect and learn from each other. On the other hand, you lose a lot of nuance over the internet. 

Many years ago, a friend of mine gave me some excellent advice. She said the best thing you can do online is put out what you want to see yourself. So I try to frequently ask myself: what do you want to see online? The answer has changed over the years, but I hope the heart of who I am and what I love remains 

I can only imagine how proud you are of the book, but what is your favorite piece?

My favorites change depending on my mood! Today I love Crescendo, but maybe that’s because my husband left my shoes out where I could easily trip over them.

I’m also really proud of Like A Wife and When A Psychic Tells Me I’m Going To Die. 

Things look like they are really rolling! What’s next for you?

Besides childcare in the time of Covid? Working on the next book of poetry out Spring 2022. 

As a Harrisburg resident, what is your perfect Harrisburg day? (Pre-covid, of course!)

I have lived here for ten years and love it! I think my perfect day would be a morning with my family at the Whitaker Science Center and then booze and food on the patio at The Millworks with friends in the evening with a stopover at the Midtown Scholar afterwards of course!

Where to buy ‘What Kind of Woman’

You can find Kate Baer’s book of poems, What Kind of Woman, wherever books are sold. Signed copies are available at the Midtown Scholar. Her book also is available on Amazon.

Be sure to follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for all things “What Kind of Woman” and more musings.

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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