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.

Creating Communities

8367182777_4bbbe5eb7fCommunities are an essential part of living. They bring people together and establish a common ground. Too often people are trying desperately to become themselves by taking the parts of others. Communities limit those distractions. They remind people what it is to be united by individual thoughts and beliefs. A community groups like-minded people and gives light to each of their differences.

As a child, I was never a part of many communities. I wasn’t on the soccer team, I didn’t have dance after school. I’d only really been a student and a daughter, not much more. As I grew, I found myself searching for a sense of community. I went on to pursue a study of writing and soon became very close to the literary community. It was a different world, being surrounded by people who shared the same sole purpose as I did. I wanted to write and I wanted to read, and everyone around me wanted the same. I developed many friends with similar interests, and unlike ever before, I felt myself belonging somewhere other than where I was required to belong.

When I was invited to join the Elan staff, I was eager to experience the same sense of community I had recently learned about. What I got instead was life changing.  The lessons I learned about communication and unity educated me on levels far beyond the walls of the classroom. Each of us on the staff were equally as passionate and excited to commit to something bigger than ourselves and we worked together to put on the greatest events, and create the best book we possibly could. The community we developed as a staff, taught us each to be our own leaders, listeners, and achievers.

Each of the communities I have been involved me have helped me grow and mature and as I move forward I hope to not only join other communities and learn from them, but to create my own. Uniting people by their similar interests and impacting them in such a way that they grow and mold into new and better people, ready to open themselves up to the world.

-Briana Lopez, Senior Editor-in-Chief

Community Through Writing

Logan Blog Post PictureI will never forget the day I was accepted into Douglas Anderson as a freshman, a fresh teenager, a creative writer. I expected to learn about imagery or symbolism or whatever colleges were looking for at that point, but didn’t anticipate how important a community can be towards honing my writing skills. The experience that I have gained as a result is nothing short of invaluable.

Class activities were surrounded by group critiques and group discussions. When my submission was accepted into Élan, I was offered a glimpse into the inner workings of the magazine, and the staff who critiqued my piece to help it get to the place it needed to be. I saw a force that was indestructible: teamwork at its finest. This, I thought. This is what I want to have.

And so the years have offered me such as I have wanted. If I need help with a piece due the next morning, I can text a classmate and they will offer me points for revision. If I need help with a piece I have written on my own time, I come to the same group. And, with my entry into the Élan staff, I have found the community of editors to be all I desired and more. There is always help offered, and there is always a person at your side who understands.

It is a horrible feeling, to think of a future where I do not have the connections I possess now in terms of accessing writers who can help me further my work, and vice versa. Consulting writers is the foundation of how I write; I need unbiased judgement on the pieces I’ve drafted five times. I need fresh eyes on the pieces I don’t know how to finish. Community has changed the ways I write for the better; community is essential to writing. After all, how would Élan have begun if not for such a strong foundation of writers?

-Logan Monds, Junior Social Media & Marketing Editor