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Haven KimmelHaven Kimmel (Koontz)
(1965- )

Hoosier Connection: Kimmel grew up in and wrote about east central Indiana. She completed her undergraduate degree at Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana) and attended Earlham School of Religion (Richmond).

Works Discussed: "Heartland," A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana, The Solace of Leaving Early

Although Haven Kimmel presently lives in Durham, North Carolina, she spent a majority of her life living and writing in east central Indiana. She was born in 1965, in Mooreland, Indiana, where she stayed until she attended Ball State University in nearby Muncie. She graduated from Ball State with a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing. Later she attended Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, but she left the seminary and moved to North Carolina where she studied at North Carolina State.

Kimmel has focused on poetry for a majority of her life as a writer. In 1992, under her former married name, Haven Koontz, she published a poem in The Sycamore Review entitled "Heartland." The poem describes a rural landscape in Indiana, specifically discussing Mooreland at the end:

Exactly alike, each flat field
bordered by a finger of woods,
sometimes a stream of smoke rising
at a neighborly distance...

Each street I know as well
as the dip of my husband's throat,
and the alleys overgrown by wild garlic...

This poem depicts a typical Indiana countryside, and the type of landscape in which Kimmel grew up.

Kimmel has begun writing and publishing prose, although she says her first love has always been poetry. Her first book, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana (2001), is a memoir of her life as a child in her hometown. In it she discusses elements of nature that affect a small-town Indiana life such as tornadoes, mid-summer nights and Indian summer afternoons, peaceful Easter sunrises and clear Christmas nights.

She also references a few close experiences with nature, such as finding and nursing a sick woodpecker. Later, her father, a non-church-goer in a religious town, takes her to his version of church in a nearby campground. This "church" is simply a clearing in the woods with a makeshift cross. Zippy points out that his church is not proper, due to the lack of a preacher, an altar, and other people. Her father disagrees:

Clearing in the woods
Clearing in the woods

"What does the bible say about two or three gathered together?"

"'Where two or three are gathered together, there I am also'...."

"Are there two or three of something out here?" he asked, gesturing around us. I nodded.

"There are two or three trees... bugs ...flowers. And us of course."

"Then this is where God is."

It was a nice place. It was peaceful. I was glad that Dad had found a church of his own somewhere. (179-180).

Soon after, her first novel, The Solace of Leaving Early (2002), was published, as the first part of an intended trilogy. Set in Hopewood County, Indiana, The Solace of Leaving Early is about a young woman who returns to her small Indiana hometown after abandoning her doctoral studies. While Solace would typically be considered more theological than environmental, there are a few short environmental references. While discussing some of the town members, including the main character's family, she mentions their agricultural habits: "Her father, for instance, had never expressed any excitement over pesticides and her mother's own garden was organic, and yet her dad drove to work everyday and loaded his Jo-Gro truck with toxic chemicals and sprayed them on the fields..." (38). In fact, her father works at Jo-Gro, a pesticide plant. Spraying these chemicals is more of a paycheck to her father than a moral issue.

Kimmel's books can help the reader experience the character and landscapes of small-town Indiana.



Haven Kimmel. 11 Nov. 2002 <http://www.havenkimmel.com>.

Kimmel, Haven. A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana. New York: Doubleday, 2001

---. The Solace of Leaving Early. New York: Doubleday, 2002.

Koontz, Haven. "Heartland." The Sycamore Review. 4.2 (1992): 24-25.


A Conversation with Haven Kimmel

Haven Kimmel