Smart Bets: Alyse Bensel

In her new book, Rare Wondrous Things: A Poetic Biography of Maria Sibylla Merian, Alyse Bensel takes an unusual approach to explore the life of an unusual woman. “I’m a poet, not a biographer or historian in any official sense, so a ‘traditional’ biography was not the best course of action for me,” says the assistant professor of English at Brevard College and director of the Looking Glass Rock Writers’ Conference. “Poetry gave me the opportunity to include several different approaches to Merian’s life through persona poems, ekphrastic poems, more narrative-driven poems and poems that recount my own research and writing process constructing the collection.” Bensel’s route digs into the history of the 18th-century illustrator and naturalist, who the author says made “groundbreaking discoveries in metamorphosis” and also ran her own business, which was “unheard of and quite scandalous in the late 1700s.” Rare Wondrous Things will be published Tuesday, July 21. Author photo courtesy of Bensel


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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