The Little Things

Billy Collins has always been on of my biggest inspirations as a poet. I discovered in my freshman year of highschool and at first I didn’t really like him. Actually, I didn’t really like any poets but I remember one Christmas morning my grandpa handed me a small stack of poetry books. He told me he knew I was having trouble with my poetry and he saw these at a garage sale for a few dollars and thought they might help. Stuck in between Robert Hass and Yeats was a book by Collins. I think the cover attracted me more than the actual poetry did.

I didn’t really touch the books for about a month or so, until one day I was assigned to write about poem. Poetry was terrifying to me, I thought it was way to over my head for me to even consider being a poet. So I turned to the small stack of books that had been collecting dust silently on my desk. I reached for the Collins book and flipped through, until one poem stuck out to me. It was about yellow bathtub ducks he’d found in a drug store one night. Don’t ask me why I liked this poem so much because I wouldn’t really have an answer for you. But that one poem opened something for me. Pretty soon I started seeing the beauty in all of his poem.

The simplistic language, the beautiful imagery, the emotions I found hidden in each sentence. Collins isn’t the type of writer to write directly about his emotions. He always finds an image or an action to zone in one and he makes you feel it for yourself, instead of describing it. And I can tell you now, that for someone who hates talking about her feelings or sharing any type of personal information with stranger, this type of technique really intrigues me.

In a lot of ways Collins opened the door to the poetry world and sort made me see that not everything has to be complicated pros and metaphors that nobody understands. It was be simple, pleasant. You don’t have to rip through your emotional conscious or tear apart traumatic memories to get a good poem. Sometimes you can just write about the rain drops of a window or yellow bathtub ducks you find in a drug store.

Sometime when I’m sitting in front of my computer not being able to come up with anything, I’ll feel that fear inside of me. That fear that I’ll never be able to write poetry the way I’m “supposed” too, but Collins always finds a way to remind me that there will never be a specific way to write poetry. You write what you feel, what you see, what you experience. You write your truth.

Sierra Lunsford, Web Editor


Beginnings and Endings

Jacob's PictureIt’s the beginning of the new year and that means we at Elan have begun our preparations for the Douglas Anderson Writers’ Festival. We’ve been collecting excerpts from our distinguished guest writers and posting these with their biographies on the Festival website,

All of the reading I’ve been doing for the Festival excites me, as it does all of my peers, all of my teachers. Reading the work of a new writer is always exciting, but it’s even more exciting when you know that the writer is coming to your school and reading the same pieces to you, discussing how they were written and how you can write better. It reminds us that the Writers’ Festival is part of a great tradition that generations of Creative Writers have taken part in. Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol-Oates, Billy Collins, and Richard Ford have all been keynote speakers in past festivals, and now we have the privilege to hear from more amazing writers.

For the first time in Festival history, we have two keynote speakers—the nationally recognized educator and novelist Ron Carlson and President Obama’s own inaugural poet, Richard Blanco. We’ve entered a new era of the Festival, where we’re big enough to expand the stage for speakers.

I am reaching the end of my time at DA, but I am able to be part of the Writers’ Festival this one time, and being part of its beginning is almost enough to make up for the pain of leaving it all behind.

-Jacob Dvorak, Senior Fiction Editor