Learning The Ways And The Words by Chloe Schoenfeld

I still think of myself as new here. I’m a freshman now and I have been for about three weeks. Creative Writing  is much more fascinating and enthralling than any other class I’ve had before. The department head, Heather Woodward, isn’t here yet, so the seniors have been leading us, and I never thought I’d say I had enjoyed analyzing texts. Sometimes I worry about my place in the group. That maybe my placement here was a mistake or a second choice, or perhaps I am not who they hoped I’d be. I try to reassure myself that I am wanted. Somehow I’ve made friends here, I can converse with people as if I’ve known them my entire life when a month ago we were strangers. 

We began analyzing a poem this week. It was “Self-Portrait” by Afaa Michael Weaver. I read this poem through what must have been at least twenty times, each giving me another understanding and meaning of the words on the paper. This one man’s story has been hosting a raging party with all of the literary devices I learned only last week. I feel I’ve gained so much more of an understanding of Judaism and life and purity than I’ve ever known before. My mind has started spinning every time I look at the words or even my annotations.

I see myself in the shadows of a leaf

compressed to the green blades growing

to a point like the shards of miles of mirrors

falling and cracking to perfect gardens. 

– Self-Portrait, Afaa Michael Weaver

I was delighted to share an “Aha!” moment on this poem with a fellow freshman in Creative Writing, who I’m glad to say is my friend now. I’ve never had an experience like this, one that presents the core of the English language in such an inviting way. These concepts have been driven so far into my head that I’ve started to see them everywhere, and maybe that’s not a bad thing. Everyday I continue to be surprised by the talented writers and thinkers that surround me, somehow creating a comfortable environment for everyone even with the absence of the usual teacher.

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