Poetry in Motion
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after graduation. However, I had a liberal arts education that allowed me to do just about anything. And from there, I just gave it a go.”
— Curtis Bauer ’92
Hometown: Williamsburg, Iowa
Major: Political Science
Student Activities: Student Ambassador, London Study Abroad, Sigma Sigma Sigma Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha
Career: Professor of Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas
Curtis Bauer ’92 has a way with words. His talent for using language is charming, eloquent and effective. He’s a poet with a pen, with a unique story that continues to be written.
Growing up on a farm near Iowa City, Iowa, Bauer was persuaded by Central College to play football, as well as wrestle. However, once on campus Bauer’s focus began to shift.
“I said ‘yes.’ And then I said ‘no’ to both football and wrestling once I was here,” he says. “It just seemed like there was a longing for me to do something else that I hadn’t done before. Which was truly investing in my studies, all the while keeping an eye open for different opportunities.”
Having found a connection with political science, Bauer began dreaming about becoming a lawyer one day and possibly pursuing politics down the road. During his sophomore year, he studied abroad in London. There, he had the opportunity to intern at the House of Commons. It was during his time there that Bauer’s plans again began to change.
“As an intern, I realized I did not want to go into politics,” he remembers. “And I didn’t really think I wanted to become a lawyer either.”
Back at Central, Bauer began exploring other areas of interest.
“I started taking other classes that I had never thought of taking before,” he says. “I took a literature class, as well as a Spanish class that I didn’t really do very well in. In addition to taking my political science courses, I also enrolled in several others like religion, anthropology, sociology and psychology.”
After graduating from Central, Bauer was still searching for the right fit.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after graduation,” he says. “Then I got a job teaching English in Mexico. I had no teaching background and wasn’t even an English major. However, I had a liberal arts education that allowed me to do just about anything. And from there, I just gave it a go.”
Bauer’s time teaching in Mexico paved the way for a move to Spain where he continued teaching English, married Idoia Elola who was a Spanish language assistant for Central from 1990-1991 and began dabbling in writing fiction and poetry. He also started translating poetry. A passion began to stir for Bauer and a realization that this was what he wanted to focus on.
He and his wife decided to move back to the U.S. so he could attend graduate school. Bauer attended Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York, where he received his M.F.A. with a specialization in poetry and translation.
After moving back to Iowa so Elola could start her Ph.D. work at the University of Iowa, Bauer began teaching writing at various colleges and published his first book, “Fence Line,” which won the John Ciardi Poetry Prize. In addition to his writing, he also started translating in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.
As his career has continued to evolve, Bauer’s impact and reach have grown as well. He is now the author of three poetry collections, as well as a translator of numerous books of poetry and prose from Spanish. He has also given readings, lectures and workshops in Spanish and English across the U.S. and in Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela and Spain.
Today, Bauer and his wife divide their time between Spain and Lubbock, Texas, where they are both professors at Texas Tech University.
Bauer attributes a great deal of his success to his experience right here at Central.
“My college experiences were amazing,” he says. “The opportunities presented to me at Central and those I encountered as part of my liberal arts education have been immensely valuable in making me the writer, teacher and global citizen I am today.”
Bauer presented from his collection of works at the Fall 2022 Writers Reading Series at Central.