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updated: 10/12/2012 11:09 PM

For poet Melanie Knippen, Indian Trails Library is Mecca

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  • Melanie Knippen wrote a poem that honors her memories of the Indian Trails library.

    Melanie Knippen wrote a poem that honors her memories of the Indian Trails library.
    Courtesy of Indian Trails Library

Indian Trails Public Library District

According to a 2012 Pew research study, Millennial women (18-30 year olds) say that technology, music, pop culture and clothing define them.

Not so for 25-year-old Melanie Knippen, a passionate fan of public libraries. To prove it, she wrote "The Place Made From Many Trees," as an homage to the Indian Trails Library District.

"My memories of going to Indian Trails weekly with my mom until I was 18 stand out," says Knippen. "I'm introverted and shy. The library opened a path to the world for me and libraries continue to influence me," she adds, which is how her poem came to be written.

Asked by her Harper College instructor Anne Davidovicz to compose a poem based on a favorite childhood memory, Knippen didn't have to think twice. "My poem articulates my belief that libraries are refuges for solitude, comfort and escape." She's fascinated by contrast: "readers sit in total silence while their brains fire off thoughts, absorb and collect ideas."

Her poetry has been featured in the Harper College literary magazine, "Point of View," and she was recently awarded the Vivian Stewart Award for her poem "My Mother's Malignancy," and the Point of View Award for her poem "The Minotaur in the Labyrinth."

A fan of poets Sylvia Plath, Mary Oliver and Diane Wakoski, Knippen's early Indian Trails memories impact the vocational path she's chosen as well; she traded a potential career in art psychotherapy for that of poet and literature teacher because she wants to share her passion.

"Technology is not genuine," she says. "We don't value face-to-face experiences. I hope my poetry can help people express their emotions." Toward that end, she will pursue an MFA, amass teaching skills and use her original compositions to illustrate "the broken sense of things."

"Melanie read her poem at a summer concert the library hosted," says Susan Dennison, head of Communications Services. "My first impression was 'Wow, this young woman is very articulate and composed.' As I began to listen to her poem, I realized her words voice the feelings many people have about libraries. We knew we wanted to share Melanie's work with the community."

Knippen's poem will be on display at the Indian Trails Library District, 355 Schoenbeck Rd., Wheeling, beginning in October.

The Indian Trails Library District serves 67,000 residents in Wheeling, Buffalo Grove and Prospect Heights by providing programs, services and resources that enrich and engage the community.