Michael Dickman

At the start of my freshman year of high school, I did not know how to write. I knew that I wanted to write, and I knew that I had a lot to say, but I hadn’t quite figured out how to articulate any of it. The poem that changed all of that for me was “Killing Flies” by Michael Dickman. I stumbled upon it by chance, and I was immediately captivated. The opening lines grabbed me and pulled me into a situation that I had never come close to experiencing, but that I somehow felt incredibly connected to

 

“I sit down for dinner

with my dead brother

again

This is the last dream I ever want to have

 Passing the forks

around the table, passing

the knives

 There’s nothing to worry about”

 – Killing Flies

 These lines stunned me, and expertly conveyed grief in just a few words. This poem came at an important time for me, and showed me the way that words can affect people in a way that can’t always be explained. During freshman year, I experienced the loss of purpose that comes with being 15. I was writing all the time for school, but I didn’t really know why. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything important. After reading this poem, I understood why.

As much as I love Dickman’s craft, I can’t say that is specifically what draws me to his work. Rather, it’s the unexplainable feeling I get each time I read one of his pieces.

The most valuable advice I was ever given as a writer was that specificity is your friend. In a lot of my early writing, I was trying to be as general as possible. I wanted to write what I thought people wanted to read, and I tried to be relatable to everyone. I was a 15 year old girl pretending like I lived in New York City, or played guitar in a band, or was struggling through college. In Michael Dickman’s poems, nothing is ever general. The detail is astounding, whether he is talking about his deceased brother, his relationship with his father, or Emily Dickinson.

“You eat the forks,

all the knives, asleep and waiting

on the white tables

 What do you love?

 I love the way our teeth stay long after we’re gone, hanging on

despite worms or fire

I love our stomachs

turning over

the earth”

– My Autopsy

These lines strike me in ways I can’t explain, but the feeling I get when I read his work resonates through me. In a way, this feeling is what I am searching for in what I read, and what I am striving to produce in what I write. Michael Dickman taught me how to speak, how to be honest about the things that it hurts to be honest about. Now, I know that I can find myself, and by extension my writing, inside his poetry.

Meredith Abdelnour, Junior Layout and Design Editor

A Ghost Room

This piece, for me specifically reminds me of how much of a mess things can be, but still have beauty in it. There are so many object places on desk, the floor, and the sides, and for some reason I find comfort to that. The picture in general, seeps creativity. There is no emotion to evoke in the art because that’s not the point that it’s trying to prove. The point is that it’s trying to show the life of an art student. As I was looking through the book, there were so many pieces that we great don’t get me wrong; however, the fact that there was so much going on in the piece, it was also in black and white. It could’ve been colorful, which would have made every object illuminate more, but it wasn’t. And that’s what is so great about it. I always find myself attracted to blank things in general, because I know there is more to it. I also picture life as in that way, so I think that’s why is resonates so much for me. This desk has paintbrushes, paintings, books, paint, etc. Instead of it being an organized desk, no, no it’s an art student’s desk. That leads to how it represents Élan. As a writer, I myself like to messy, but only because it sparks for something for me. If everything was so clean and cut, you do not have a lot to work with it. That’s how Élan is. Élan works with the strangest writing pieces and art pieces, and that’s what makes us so unique. The community grows off of creativity

Elma Dedic, Co-Marketing/Social Media Editor

I am a Writer

lex bpTowards the middle of my sophomore year, I began losing my love and need for writing. I had exhausted the typical topics I was used to writing about, written about so many things I needed to write about, and worked out so much of my internal conflicts that I was… happy. So happy I was another cliché. Being in this satisfied place, I didn’t know what was next for me so I kind of just avoided that topic altogether, for a while at least. I figured it would go away, but, of course, it did not. I still had the rest of my life ahead of me, much less the rest of the school year and there were assignments due. While I was in this stuck place, lacking addiction I once had to writing, I wrote so many awful things about being happy. That’s when I began to think, “I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I don’t know if I am capable.” It wasn’t until I wrote a poem about new-found love, ironically the least cliché thing I’d written in so long, that I regained the knowledge that I am a writer.

I still did not feel like my normal, writer self, but after a talk with one of my beloved fellow writers and mentors, I made the decision to take the summer to stop, breathe, and stimulate my mind in other ways I had not; I needed the time to recharge and rediscover myself. I needed to stop over-thinking. I spent the time trying new restaurants, going to art museums, and going on long, hot hikes through nature. I did not read or write until one night I pulled out “If Only You People Could Follow Directions” By Jessica Hendry Nelson to loan to a friend. I decided to reread parts of it and sobbed in my bed for hours. Every emotion I had ever felt in my whole life came rushing back into my body and I thought about the first time I had ever read anything written by her. In the midst of self-discovery and freshman year the essay “Rapture of the Deep” was an in-class read. After that, it was like the marrow that had been sucked out of my bones was put back; I knew I was a writer.

It was inside of me and there was no going back; I could never not be a writer.

When I read Nelson again over the summer, it rekindled the sort of hunger we, as artist, feel in the bottom our chests to create, but also explore humanity. We are very curious human beings; we want to know. I want to know. Through my journey this far, I’ve come to realize that I can write about my situations or the things I am still struggling with in a way that is not sad or happy, but simply thoughtful. Writing does not amount to happy or sad; it amounts to the meaning of life or, what meaning you give your life.

Lex Hamilton, Co-Marketing/Social Media Editor