Three Readings in 24 Hours

The last day of class also happened to be the launch party of my last edition of Ramifications—and by “my last edition” I mean the last copy of Ram I worked on as a staff member or editor. We opened the evening with a slam poetry competition that went surprisingly well (considering I didn’t even know if anyone was going to come for it). I don’t know much about slam poetry, I admit, but I really liked the poems that were performed. Afterwards we had an open mic for music and regular readings. I read one of my poems and one of my short stories, Thanksgiving in Philadelphia.

Dr. Watkins has always played old Appalachian/bluegrass ballads almost every launch party since I came to Berry. When he was singing this time was the closest I came to crying—not because it was a sad song (it wasn’t), but because for four years that’s been one of my favorite parts of the semester. So I teared up, but I didn’t cry.

Overall we had a great turnout and a lot of fun. After everyone left, my staff and volunteers presented me with a little chest filled with quill pens, inkwells and a journal. I nearly teared up again, but I held it together admirably.

The next day, “Reading Day,” I had two other readings. The first was a poetry reading celebrating the end of Poetry Month. People spread out blankets and set up folding chairs outside the library, and they had angel food cake and lemonade. Students and some faculty read their own poetry and a few favorite poems by famous authors. I read a couple of poems, including one called The Flare, which is about Rheumatoid Arthritis. After the reading, a woman I didn’t know approached me and said, “My daughter has Rheumatoid Arthritis, and your poem told me more about what that’s like than anything she’s shared, anything her doctors have told me, or anything I’ve read. Thank you.”

Right in the feels, guys. Right in the feels. It meant so much to me to hear that.

Later that night was my senior reading. The other creative writing majors and I went out for a pre-game to help people relax. (I relaxed over a big glass of tea—others chose different drinks.) It was interesting chatting with people who’d been my classmates for years but who I hadn’t really hung out with before.

After prep talking each other, we went to the reading. It was in the fancy Ford living room, which has a lot of Italian art and stuff. There wasn’t a huge turnout, but that was fine with me. Everyone did great. I read an excerpt from my 20 page short story, Bloodroot Blooming, and a little bit from Naan in the Afghan Village. We hung around afterwards eating the snacks and talking to professors and generally just goofing off. It was a lot of fun, and having so many readings this semester has helped me overcome some of my fear of reading in front of people. Perks of being a senior?

The Role of Mythology in Fiction

So some people asked me to share my symposium presentation about building myth in creative writing. Your wish is my command! Here’s my abstract:

The world is not constructed simply of fact, but also of myth. The interplay between mythology, geography, culture and history is a relationship which fiction provides a perfect platform for exploring. This presentation will focus specifically on Welsh and Celtic mythology, a relatively unknown genre of myth, before exploring the ways studying the influences of myth can help create worlds in fiction. Welsh mythology is closely tied to its geographic roots, with many tales informing the listener specifically where the events are said to have taken place. This connection between land, history and legend will be examined in the stories Culhwch and Olwen from the Mabinogion and The Prophecy of Merlin from the History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth, both of which have powerful connections with Welsh culture even today. Finally, an excerpt from my own work in progress, Blessings, will be read to demonstrate how I have utilized my research to create a world with its own myths, history, and place. Drafts and notes will be read to show how I created my world based on what I have learned about myths and fairytales in Wales.

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When Life is Full of Validation and a Lot of Tea

So, remember that time I wrote a slightly inspirational, depressing entry about being an unpublished writer? Well, turns out the thing I was being emo over was a misunderstanding on my part when I looked at the website. A week or so after posting my emo entry, I got an email telling me I’d progressed to stage two.

About a month later, I got an email telling me I was one of 13 finalists.

And yesterday, I got a call. It went something like this:

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Best Books of 2012

Last year I used Goodreads to set a goal of 100 books in 2011, and I made it! This year I gave myself a bit of slack and aimed for 75 books. I wanted to focus more on non-fiction, but… didn’t quite do as well as I would have liked. Non-fiction and I are still learning how to get along.

Out of my 75 books, I present: My best reads of 2012!

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