College poetry readings

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So the coffee shop location where the readings happened was small like this. Not as tight quarters with the tables crammed together, but there is a similar vibe.

My second semester writing course focused more on persuasive writing. There was a structured formula to follow that included making an assertion, backing it up with examples and research, providing a rebuttal, refuting that, and then offering conclusions.

The structured part was intimidating, but I remember that it helped me see how it was possible to write a 5-10 page paper on the same topic.

I liked my professor. Something about her made me trust her judgement, not just in class but in general. Perhaps she mentioned her personal writing, offering a sense of more happening besides teaching classes. I forget how it happened, but her opinion was one I trusted and I shared one of my poems with her. She referred me to a friend of hers who hosted monthly poetry open mic nights in nearby Charlotte and edited a literary magazine.

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Poem: Saw But Didn’t See

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In honor of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I present you this poem. Actually, it fits in well with the course of my writing because this was written at the end of my first semester of college. But maybe I should pretend that the timeliness of the content was planned all along.

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When you’re NOT interested in a guy’s attention

hires-copyHe was a non-traditional student, about 10 years older and I think pursuing an undergraduate degree. I had met him through PACT, but I believe the first real opportunity to talk happened on the statewide retreat. He wasn’t Catholic, but he was interested in learning about the faith.

I remember being with a small group of people at the retreat, and then slowly others broke off for other things. And it was just the two of us. I wasn’t super comfortable around him, but I couldn’t just leave him. He seemed so alone, and I felt bad for him.

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Finding my voice in an opinion essay

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This post shows how I was able to take a personal writing session and transform it into an opinion piece for a college class. I took real events and feelings and, by writing a first person narrative while fictionalizing some details, I found a sense of voice in my writing. It marked the first time I truly understood what that literary term meant.

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Faith and the inner life: Discovery of self in journal writing

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Unlike most of my classmates, what I looked forward to most about being on campus was not seeking out the parties. It wasn’t a desire for alcohol or all the other “benefits” of this newly discovered independence.

No, I wanted to learn, and that really meant learning more about my faith. I had a solid foundation of what I believed as a Catholic, but it was still very much just absorbing what I had been taught and taking things at face value instead of understanding things for myself.

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Poem: Comatose

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In the first few weeks of my freshman year of college, it was very dark and rainy. Aside from complaining about having to walk across campus in the rain, the logical response for me was to take this experience and write about it.

I had a rough draft and then emailed my instructors from the Write Moves program to get their feedback. The first three stanzas mostly remained untouched after my correspondence, but the rest were additions.

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Lessons from the Black Knight

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I love this image! It shows how conversations intersect. I assume the overlapping parts indicate shared interests, trying to find commonalities. 

During my first semester in college, I was required to take a one-credit “introduction to college” type class called Critical Issues Symposium (CISM). Each instructor approached this class differently, I’m told. Some people had quizzes. Some had to keep a journal of who knows what. I believe they had instruction for note taking and test taking and adjusting to the transition of a college workload.

The guy leading my class was a visual arts instructor. He had no desire to offer tests or really force us to do too much of anything. We mostly had class discussions.

I believe the first time our class met, he brought out a TV and played us a clip from Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Yes, that Black Knight.

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Strange new world: College independence

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The experience of Move In Day at college is meant to be a joyful and happy occasion, right? Sure you have mixed emotions on both sides; teens finally get that taste of freedom and independence while parents are forced to consider what life will be like without their child at home. But in general you’re supposed to be happy and hopeful, aren’t you?

I wanted to be like the girl in the above photo. I wanted to exude gratitude for my parents’ help with transporting my belongings from home to campus. To be grateful for all of the effort with lugging my boxes and oddly-shaped objects up 5 flights of stairs. To welcome the assistance with not just dumping things inside the doorway but to begin finding homes for each book and article of clothing. To figure out the perfect spot on the wall for my dry erase board, which would serve as a visual reminder for assignments.

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Mr. Kremin assigns 10th grade autobiography

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A treasured note I received from Mr. Kremin.

Tenth grade meant taking a religion class with Mr. Kremin. I remember him standing at attention in front of the crucifix (in the way only a former member of the military can) to lead us in prayer at the start of class. He faced forward with his back to us; his reverence was an example for the rest of us.

Kremin’s class was amazing because he gave us one of our first tests of being treated as adults. When you walked in the room, you were met with an air of respect. You had to decide how to respond to it. It was the first time that respect in the classroom really seemed palpable: You walk in and you matter. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s one of those intangible things that really resonated with me.

He was a natural teacher and storyteller. What he shared was captivating, maybe because it seemed to be more than going through a lesson. He wanted to communicate more than just the material but to truly reach you, to challenge preconceived notions.

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Poem: Allusions of Myself

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I wrote this during my sophomore year of college. I remember sitting in the cafeteria trying to come up with a poem to share at a poetry reading. Yes, during a freshman writing course, my professor introduced me to a group in a nearby city that hosted monthly poetry readings. She said they would welcome a college student. I just had to find the nerve to give it a chance. Eventually all my favorite poems that I had written in high school had been shared and I was in need of new material.

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