Switching Over

Seth's PictureI’ve always taken change in my life as signals for new beginnings. Just recently, I switched from Junior Poetry to Junior Fiction. At first, I was wary. How dare this get in the way of my poetry! Where shall I get my critiques and inspiration now? Ew, fiction.

At the beginning of junior year, I held the same mindset towards Junior Poetry. I thought, how dare this get in the way of my fiction! Where shall I get my inspiration now? Ew, poetry. You see, I ended sophomore year with poetry, and I wanted a chance to revisit fiction after half a year. I knew I was rusty with fiction, which is why I was eager to come back to it. To me, my poetry was fine enough. Oh, how wrong I was.

It took one day of Junior Poetry to revitalize me. One class period, one homework assignment, and one talented teacher for me to say, “Yes, poetry!” I was immersed. I shaped my poetry into a narrative style, and improved my skills on descriptive implication and developing speakers and settings. I gave and received critiques, and actually enjoyed the process. Lessons further tightened my grasp on poetic forms and structures, and I had plenty of opportunities to try out my brand new knowledge.

So of course, I came to my senses after a few minutes. Fiction will offer the same enlightenment that Junior Poetry did. I have an equally-talented teacher, and lessons which are just as useful waiting for me. Soon I’ll write fiction portfolios and develop my dialogue skills, and practice on interweaving setting, plot, and character. I’m ready to switch gears, but that doesn’t mean my poetic skills will languish for the rest of the year.

-Seth Gozar, Junior Fiction 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, dawritersfest.com.

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

Writing as My Definition of Community

PICTURE AlexisI never fully understood the meaning of community until I came to Douglas Anderson to study creative writing. Previously, I’d attended an arts middle school for theater, where I found life-long friends and transformed from a shy writer churning out pages and pages of fiction in her free time to a boisterous, enthusiastic performer carrying polished monologues under her belt. I auditioned for both theater and creative writing for Douglas Anderson—the first only to see if I’d get in, and the second with the actual desperate hope of getting in. After being accepted for both, I was forced to make an important decision I’d already subconsciously made years before. Because writing holds much more significance to my personal growth and future, I chose writing.

In middle school, my theater community was my first real impression of how it feels to belong somewhere. Here, it’s different. Writing had always been just a side hobby—an art I practiced after everything else that not many people knew was as important to me as it was. But being around writers every day, given the same assignments and struggling through similar issues as I am, who are just as passionate about writing as I am, not only deepened my own passion for writing, but gave me a deeper sense of belonging that I’d never experienced before.

I find my Junior Poetry class to be the most unifying. Learning tools such as sound in texture and meter in poetry and the collective excitement my class shares for these tools we’re introduced to that we can now utilize in our poetry, like keys for various locks that remained anonymous freshman and sophomore year, reminds me why I chose to further my study of this art. The community of the Creative Writing Department solidifies my passion for writing and serves as a foundation for exponential growth in my craft that I will carry under my belt for the rest of my life.

-Alexis Williams, Junior Editor-in-Chief