30th Anniversary Alumni Appreciation: Emily Cramer

Emily CramerÈlan Literary Magazine is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. In honor of our longevity we are posting work from our editorial staff alumnus, which includes biographies, Q&A’s, and excerpts of their pieces.

After graduating from Douglas Anderson in 2014, Emily Cramer moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University, where she is studying Nursing. She is a member of the Honors Student Association and has been on the Dean’s List for the past three semesters. She is currently serving as Secretary on the Executive Board of Lady Spirithunters, a spirit-based organization that works closely with the Florida State Athletic Department to spread love of FSU to the Tallahassee community and other FSU students.

 

Cherokee Land, 1830

(From Èlan 2014)

We found a maimed wolf this morning,

caught in the chicken wire.

Pa called for my brother

to fetch the rifle.

When he passed

he brushed my shoulder,

whispering of footsteps

words spoken in a tongue

we could not understand.

 

Sometimes at night,

when Pa slept off his fingers

of whiskey and twigs snapped

beyond our windows,

Ma told us stories of man and wolf

melding into one,

sun thrumming through veins.

She told us how we pushed

into their land, built on their earth.

She told us of a brotherhood

painted on hills, feathers sticking

to stone to form figures,

histories hung from

lips lit by fire.

 

My brother returned with the rifle.

Pa hawked up spit and sent

it into the wolf’s face.

He told us to watch,

learn what happens when savages

enter our land, take from our mouths.

 

 

 

Dear Harper

(Performed at the Èlan 30th Anniversary Alumni Reading)

Between your ink-blot pages

I found the cul-de-sac

at the end of our street,

where my brother and I

raced bicycles

round

and around

and around,

until we stumbled

home, dizzy with

grins and sun.

In Scout,

I discovered my mother,

mirror image

younger sister, scabbed knees,

undending curiosity and stubbornness,

a kindness sunken into

her very being.

Within your letter fragments

I unearthed

the history of the soil

I buried by toes in,

from sun rays dappling

leaves in the park down

the street,

to dark boughs bending

over, cries ringing

through the wood.

 

But in Atticus,

dear Mr. Finch,

I found the father

I had only dreamt of,

a father who would

take my hand and explain

justice in a way I understood,

a father who would

hang on my every word,

who treated me like

my mind was made of gold.

 

Somewhere, a mockingbird

begins to sing,

and two children

run through a wood,

their father following

with a smile.

 

 

What lesson did you learn at DA that sticks with you still? (Not just a lesson in the classroom but a larger lesson that gives perspective to your current life)

In junior and senior year, I really began to understand that fiction and poetry are not completely separate genres. In my last two years at DA, I began experimenting with using fictional storytelling techniques in my poetry, and using poetic language in my fiction. Some stories need to be written in a fictional format, and others need to be poems. At DA, with the help of [my instructors], I learned how to merge genres and write stories the way I needed and they needed to be told.

 

30th Anniversary Alumni Appreciation: Jenn Carter

Èlan Literary Magazine is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. In honor of our longevity we are posting work from our editorial staff alumnus, which includes biographies, Q&A’s, and excerpts of their pieces.

Jennifer Carter Blog Post PictureJenn Carter graduated from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in 2013. She is currently a double major in Theater and Creative Writing at Florida State University and will be graduating Summer 2016. Her play Missouri Hymns opens as a part of FSU School of Theater’s original works festival New Horizons this spring. This play stages poetry in a unique immersive theatrical experience. After graduating she plans on continuing to research how poetry blends and transforms when paired with other artistic mediums, especially theater. She awaits to hear back from many MFA programs, and has currently been accepted into Episcopal Service Corp in Washington, DC.

How did your experience at DA influence your current artistic development?

It gave me the discipline to endure as an artist in the collegiate world. It gave me a home to fondly look back on, and gave me the strength to continue writing.

 

Trailer Park Aubade

 (From Èlan 2013)

Last night

your smile has a yellow haze of

“good old days”,

the sunset over the drugstore

making out by

the dumpster, our initials

scrawled on the belly of a metal beast

fed on

empty beer cans.

 

This morning

Stevie lyrics

bring back memories beneath

barnyard cobwebs.

A slow dance to the hum

of moths orbiting florescent

moons.

 

You touch my hair,

nibble my ear and I

I shake you off

an indefinite hangover.

 

We stare out the window.

A series of white trailers stand

at attention like rusted

submarines, and you salute

then with your naked frame.

 

A pink tricycle wheel

still spins.

A mutt chews

Last night’s take out.

A patriotic bird house

with chipped paint

is vacant.

 

Poet’s Drive

(Performed at the Èlan 30th Anniversary Alumni Reading)

Anne Sexton says it only matters
how I remember him. The man
he actually was is irrelevant.
Sexton curls her knees to her chest
and reads Stanislavsky.
She drives down Tennessee Street,
a dream catcher and a rosary hanging
from her rear view mirror. I drive
by her in a 1987 Ford Ranger
we miss each other in our hurried passing.

I’m in a chapel cleaning windows.
He asks me how many windows I cleaned.
I mumble about the pollen.
He doesn’t know about all the poets
driving around in this town.
How we call each other late at night
from the cold side of our pillows.
Instead on the couch he tells me
my poetry is my music.

He doesn’t know Anne Sexton
is a method actor at the podium.
She says by the time she is at the last line
of her work she is a naked woman.
Her voice becomes small and exposed.

I drive away from his house
blasting my actual music
so the last pieces of me
can bleed into his life
as he closes the front door.

 

I roll down the windows
open the sun roof at night
pretend there is a texture
to the air in this town.
There is mystery in this
fluorescent neighborhood.

I park my car outside
my apartment. Anne is writing

 

from my third floor bedroom.
She is writing my shadow
against a dimly lit ballad.

I am on repeat driving him home,
watching him slide out of the car
almost always pulling him back.

What do you wish someone had told you about the experience of being a creative writer at DA when you were a student? (Think about things you wish you’d appreciated more when you were here that you now realize brought you value).

My teachers always said, “Never again will you have a community quite like this,” and they were right. And I have been a creative writing major at FSU. I hope to be in a poetry MFA program one day. But I was writing with my peers at DA (most of them) since I was eleven. We were learning to read, and write- we were forming what language and art meant to us for literally the first time. And realizing that is key, but something that doesn’t come fully until you have the perspective of leaving.