Teri Grimm

Teri Grimm is a local writer, residing in Jacksonville, Florida, with her family. She received her BFA in poetry at the University of Omaha and her MFA at Vermont College. Grimm has two collections of poetry published as well as having her writing appear in other literary magazines, journals, and anthologies.

Personally, I was not all too acquainted with her writing before coming to Douglas Anderson and being introduced to her by the writing teachers. From the get go, the fact that she was a local writer made her more accessible to me because she was here in my town. She didn’t live in New York City or Chicago or in a remote cabin in the woods; she is where I am.

Out of the poems that I have read of hers, the one that has continued to stick with me is Magic Lantern. The progression of her images is so natural and the language is attainable. I don’t like to read poems where the language is so over my head that I don’t know what on earth is going on because it takes away any connection that I could have made with the work and the speaker of the poem itself. Grimm’s language allows for me delve into the poem itself.

Magic Lantern, specifically, poses philosophical ideas and questions of identity and the significance of life, but not in the way that is too overwhelming. The images themselves are grounded, so that the poem isn’t this abstract piece that I couldn’t grasp onto. Images like “he’d show glass slides of the Taj Mahal / or lovers kissing in a Venetian gondola. Familiar / scenes too and after flickering black and grey.” These are some of my favorite lines from this poem solely because I can see what the speaker is talking about. I can feel the awe of the Taj Mahal and I can feel the romance of the lovers kissing in a gondola. I am with the speaker.

How she ends this poem is what stayed with me the most. The poem is structured as a single longer stanza with long lines and then the ending line is on its own and is shorter than the rest. “But that was before I knew better.” Through the latter half of the poem, Grimm explores ideas of being this almost ethereal person and having this kind of light to her, so that “the world could see me better.” The language, again, is beautiful and captivating in itself, but the last line is what got me. It switches the speaker’s tone into something more reluctant and questioning of the world and themselves. Before the speaker is hopeful, maybe even a little jovial, but then the last line allows for the speaker to become someone more cautious and scared almost.

Grimm’s writing has allowed for myself to be okay with taking these turns that aren’t entirely expected because typically, I am careful with my writing, I am in my defined comfort zone. But with Grimm, she turns the poem, like all good poets, so that it isn’t what you expect.

Read Magic Lantern here: http://teriyoumansgrimm.com/poems.html

Winne Blay, Junior Managing Editor

The Art of The Essay

chelsea-ashleys-december-bp-pictureIn school, we are tested by our ability to comprehend prompts and answer their questions through essay format. We are graded on our diction, syntax, and if we actually answered the question. Before students even get to college, where it seems term papers are at their peak numbers, we know the five paragraph format like the back of our hands. Sure, we can cut it down to four or three paragraphs and even up the ante with as many paragraphs as the teacher requires. We are not writing for ourselves, but for the teacher and most importantly: the grade. That is what worried me about creative-nonfiction essays. I was tolerant of essays about books I’d read over the summer or what president was my favorite, but writing an essay on an experience that was actually personal to me seemed a little over the top.

I was first introduced to the idea of writing creative non-fiction work my freshman year of high school. We read pieces out of miscellaneous collections by well-known writers and also writers that weren’t as known but had stories that needed to be shared. That’s how my teacher hooked me on the idea of writing essays about your own experiences. We all have stories that need to be shared, whether we consider ourselves a writer or not. My teacher allowed us to explore the idea of writing these essays for ourselves instead of feeling as if we had to write about the experiences that would shock or allow happiness for other people. That was a worry of mine. I, along with my fellow classmates, had been writing academic papers for so long that I felt the need to write for my audience. With creative non-fiction, you are your own audience and when you cater to the needs of yourself you will consequentially impart wisdom to your readers. That year, I wrote about everything my thirteen-year-old mind could possibly imagine. Deaths in my family, lost dogs, and self-esteem riddled the pages of my composition books. Now, these topics seem weak to me. I’ve experienced new things, learned from them, and can write about them with stronger diction and tactful syntax. However, one aspect of my creative non-fiction writing that has not changed is how I can learn about myself from these pieces. When writing fiction and even poetry, you can find yourselves in the characters, imagery, etc. When writing creative non-fiction, I have no choice but to find myself in the work because I am the entire piece. Sometimes, the piece doesn’t revolve around me but I am there in the background or on the sidelines. Either way, it is illuminating to step outside of your body and see yourself on that page in a way that you didn’t see yourself in that moment.

Presently, I find myself using creative non-fiction outside of the essay format. I dabble in writing strictly about my own experiences from time to time, but I find my experiences expand and grow into something bigger than myself when I input them into my other work. I insert milestones of my life into my poems and place poignant moments of my own into stories. It doesn’t have the same effect as creative non-fiction, where I put myself out on the page and make the reader analyze me. However, it does allow me to flesh out ideas and characters with the one thing I know better than any five-paragraph-format: myself.

 

Prompt: Pick one room of your house randomly. Think about all the events that have happened in that room, no matter if they are monumental or seemingly irrelevant. Choose the event that you weren’t directly involved in but somehow impacted you. Write a creative non-fiction piece about it from your perspective.

-Chelsea Ahsley, Digital Communications Editor