Three weeks into my English class’s poetry unit I had managed to produce nothing that I could be proud of —although that could in part be due to my pandemic-induced creative rut. All of my poems were shine with no depth. They contained long, elegant lines, but I for one could not tell you what they meant. It was at this moment that a chance conversation with my student teacher completely turned my mentality upside down. Another student had expressed their struggle with producing work, which had compelled my student teacher to give an off-the-cuff monologue on writing. He had said, “Poetry is all feeling. Just write down your emotions, and then add in the fancy words later.” It sounded so simple. In fact, the Creative Writing Department Head had said something similar a few weeks before: “Your work doesn’t mean anything unless you’re taking risks. You should be crying over your poetry at times.” Even Emily Dickenson said, “If I physically feel as if the top of my head were taken off, I know it is poetry.”
And so, I did as I was prompted. Later that class period I sat down with my notepad and wrote about a moment that I had been unable to express up until that point. My inability to write stemmed from my search for the “correct” words. The moment that I just wrote whatever came to mind, my memories were finally able to exist on the page. Granted, the piece I produced was rough. After several revisions, I still believe that it needs about a hundred more drafts of work. But still, while I was writing that poem I cried. And I remembered the hidden and beautiful world of literature—the reason why I came to S.O.T.A. in the first place.
Emilie Mayer, Class of ’23