Artist Spotlight: Mara Kalinoski

By: Jaclyn Martin – Junior, English

Growing up in Toledo, Ohio amongst a family of creative-minded people, senior Mara Kalinoski always knew she wanted to be a writer.

“I learned to read when I was three, and then I started writing when I was in second grade and I instantly knew that it was my lifelong passion,” Kalinoski said. That same passion that caused Kalinoski to write her first book in second grade (a thirty page fiction piece she wrote and illustrated herself) and to later win a statewide writing competition, shines through her work even now.

Kalinoski, who is pursuing a double major in English and psychology, is not one to shy away from challenges. Between her work as a staff member of the Orpheus team and a PAVE educator, Kalinoski still finds time to maintain her own blog where she publishes much of her own work. These pieces offer a wide range of styles from short stories to poetry to nonfiction essays. Kalinoski’s pieces cover real-world issues in an honest, emotional way that invites her readers to forge an even deeper connection with the piece.

Like most writers, Kalinoski gets inspiration for her work from a variety of sources. Whether it is the book that she is reading, a random stranger walking down the street or her own life experiences, Kalinoski seems to find writing material in everything around her.

“If I am walking outside and I see something cool, I just instantly think of a story in my head and I want to expand on it, or I will write a description piece on it… I don’t know, everyday things really mean a lot because you can shape them into anything you want,” Kalinoski said.

In addition to finding her subject material from anything and everything around her, Kalinoski’s style of writing is heavily influenced by the works she reads from other authors.

“When I read a lot of Hemingway I kind of get like cleaner and more concise sentences, and then when I read other types of novels I get really into flowery language or really into dialogue,” Kalinoski said. This practice provides Kalinoski with the ability to form an emotional connection with the readers using a multitude of writing techniques.

To Kalinoski, forming an emotional bond with the reader is one of the most important parts.

“I mean, I know it sounds cliché, but just making people feel something is really the ultimate goal,” Kalinoski said. That goal is constantly present in Kalinoski’s writing, where her desire to make people feel connected to something is often a primary theme.

That love of human connection extends beyond Kalinoski’s writing and into her social life through the open mic night she hosts once a month with her roommates in their apartment on ArtStreet. At “Pinot and Poetry,” fellow UD students can spend their Friday or Saturday night listening to and performing their own poetry, music, stand-up, or short pieces of fiction and nonfiction writing.

Most recently, Kalinoski has begun to collaborate with a friend of hers on a book consisting of a collection of her writing accompanied by her friend’s illustrations. She hopes that they’ll be able to self-publish the work soon. For her, the main goal of the book is to provide her, along with her friends and family, with a concrete sample of her work.

Although a large portion of Kalinoski’s work in college has focused on her own writing ability, she hopes to one-day work in the publishing industry as an editor, ideally in a publishing house. Like most students, Kalinoski’s main career goal is to be able to pay her bills in the field that she loves, and her work in the Write Place makes her confident in her ability to do so.

However, she has no plans to give up on her childhood dream of being a writer, but instead, hopes that her career as an editor will provide her with the ability to spend her free time creating and publishing her own works of literature.

On the rare occasions, when Kalinoski isn’t writing her own pieces or editing other people’s work, she spends her free time reading, listening to music, browsing through record stores, or hanging out with her friends. Though with graduation looming ever closer, you’ll most likely find Kalinoski on the front porch of her ArtStreet apartment doing schoolwork and spending quality time with her roommates.
If you’re looking for Kalinoski’s work, you can find it on her WordPress blog:, or you can contact her about her open mic night at


Photo courtesy of Mara Kalinoski.

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