Husband and Wife Duo Share Poetry and the Benefits of Working Together

Aby Kaupang and Matthew Cooperman share some of their poetry, while discussing their work and non-work relationship.

Aby Kaupang and Matthew Cooperman share some of their poetry, while discussing their work and non-work relationship.

Julia Klein

Students and faculty gathered in Lawrence Hall for the English Department Poetry Series on Thursday, April 13, which featured husband and wife Matthew Cooperman and Aby Kaupang. The couple were warmly welcomed by Humanities and English Professor Peter Balakian. Though the two authors write independently, Balakian highlighted that their works “speak to one another.” While Kaupang focuses on nature and spirit, Cooperman’s work often focuses on a dystopic view of society. 

The couple took to the podium together, reading a few poems from their co-authored 2016 book “Disorder 299.00,” which discusses their experience raising an autistic child. The words of the poems were deep and vivid, depicting a period of time that Kaupang mentioned was one of the most difficult of her life. The poets alternated reading stanzas aloud, portraying an experience that both could heavily relate to. The audience fell silent. 

Kaupang said that writing the book was the “most important thing [she has] written with Matthew.” 

“I really enjoyed listening to Matthew and Aby – a rare poet couple who each pose a unique approach to their creative works. They read their own respective works as well as poems from a book they wrote together about their daughter, which I found to be particularly touching and moving,” senior

Talia Fishbein said. 

Next, each poet read a few of their own poems from their individual books. Kaupang’s works discussed her relationship with God and grief. Her soothing voice was pleasant and relaxing as she questioned God and the natural world. She later referenced that 2016 was a difficult year because “everyone died” and “politics plummeted.” Kaupang wrote poems to console herself, including one which began, “Dear Aby, don’t be afraid.” She also wrote to meaningful influences on her life, like David Bowie. 

Cooperman, a member of the Class of 1986 himself, stepped to the podium. He thanked Professor Balakian, who was a mentor for him as a student; he said that he “wouldn’t be a poet or professor without him.” 

He opened with a poem titled, “A Mini-Mart Near Fresno” from his book “A Sacrificial Zinc.” The poem was influenced by poet Allen Ginsberg. The poem began, “I was a child of love in a flowering town, canary yellows, a daisy chain / stunned particular of forgetting / which was love.” Throughout, Cooperman reflected on his life growing up in California. 

Cooperman read from his 2013 book, “Imago for the Fallen World,” which offered a dark and surprising view of the world and environment. 

“I was especially drawn to Matthew’s poem segments called ‘Letters to Planet Earth’ – using creativity to express such sentiments is crucial and I appreciated it,” Fishbein said.

Cooperman also read from his newest book “Spool,” which was published in 2016. Its poems are written in three–word lines, which began because he started writing these poems on his honeymoon, thinking he could get six poems onto a page of a small notepad at one time.

The poets addressed their relationship as co-authors and as a married couple in a Q&A session. When asked about how working together affects their parenting, the couple responded that, overall, their similar passion bolsters their relationship, as writing allows them to clarify their feelings. They appreciate being able to read their work to one another and get a second opinion. They even secretly publish a poem in one another’s books. Matthew added that it is a “privilege to live with another artist.” 

“It’s amazing to hear a married couple talk about their writing experience as poets and parents,” senior Sophia Gonzalez said.