Creative Writing Sampler: Mom’s Magic Sewing Room

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by Claire Roth (’14)

Mom’s sewing room is a kingdom with borders stretching across half the basement floor.  Inside the walls heavily decorated with pictures, our childhood artwork, cards, and quirky signs, both magic and mystery abound. Here, Mom created impossible things. She would disappear for a few hours and emerge with a new dress, new pajamas, a new quilt for the new baby at church, or a new shirt for Dad. Even the old things, the fabric collected from long ago, became new once pieced together in Mom’s magical room.

When we were young, my sisters and I would visit Mom in her sewing room. We would ask about the mysteries. What are you making? Who’s it for? What does this button do? Our questions changed as we grew older. Can I help? There were times she sent us away, but soon she sat us down and taught us how the magic worked.

“Be careful with your fingers. This is not a plaything, it is a sewing machine. Here is the pressure foot lever. Let’s start by just going in a straight line. That’s it. Now raise the pressure foot. Try it again. Very good. No, don’t worry about pressing buttons. I’ll do that.” She also did the ironing and the roller cutting. Those blades could go through skin as easily as fabric, so she waited until we were older to teach us to hold the guide still, check that the blade was right up against the edge, then push forward along the guide, cutting straight strips. Each strip was laid atop another and attached with a quarter-inch seam.

Log cabin quilts were our first magic projects. We covered our beds and gave them as gifts. She taught us new projects like quilted pillows, stuffed frogs, drawstring skirts, pajama pants, and sleeveless dresses. Each one removed a little of the sewing room’s mystery, but the magic remained. It was what kept Mom going back again and again.

The sewing room changed to include other activities as my sisters and I demonstrated our own interests. A scrapbooking area gave Mom and Anne the chance to organize our vacation photos. Fuzzy fabrics collected on the daybed in the corner because Jane loved the feel of them on the back of quilts. Both Anne and Jane loved the skirts and dresses, so Mom expanded her collection of zippers, buttons, and threads and learned tricks for sewing on different kinds of fabric. I learned to love building models and painting, so Mom added a table at the end of her sewing counter for me. She didn’t mind that I covered it with nicks, scratches, and paint stains. Anytime we approached her with something new, she would help us try it. Frustration was no stranger, and a few projects never made it out of the magical room. There was room for failure amidst the many colors and textures, but we never enjoyed ripping out seams or undoing our mistakes. We all learned when to keep trying, when to quit and move on, and when to just stop for the day.

I can keep going. Each time I sit down to write, I see the colors in Mom’s wall of fabric and hear the sound of her sewing machine. Out of the old comes something new. I piece together words. She made a world out of quarter-inch seams and a good iron.

Claire is a senior finishing up degrees in English and Mathematics. As the middle kid of three sisters, she enjoys absurd laughter, having the last word, and tea parties. Claire intends to join the hallowed halls of academia as an English professor, but will start grad school only after a year spent in shenanigans, mischief, stunts, escapades, and anything that strikes her capricious fancy.

Proof that Our Department has Talent

Check out these photos, courtesy of Josie Camarillo (’14), of the Pinecone Cabaret, the annual English Fun(d)raising Talent Show. If you missed it, here is your chance to check out the raw talent of our department, and if you were there, here is the chance you have been waiting for to relive the night.

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Professor Nicole Sheets was the MC for the night.

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Luke Eldredge (’16) instructed and performed how to ride a unicycle.

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Meredith Friesen (’14) shared her musical skills on the piano.

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Dana Stull (’16) performed her bird whistle and taught us all how to construct the ultimate paper airplane.

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Professor Nicole Sheets and her husband Charlie had the world premiere of their band Makkaroon.

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Rosie McFarland (’14) provided us with a taste of her YouTube channel Lostbetweenthepages

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Jan Shannon talked about SpokaneFAVS (for which we ended up raising $58) and its mission.

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Professor Casey Andrews sang the melancholy tunes of Brit Pop.

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Ana Quiring (’14) read a comic compilation of her thoughts on being an English major (and explaining why), and her love of Virginia Woolf.

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Hannah Brenneman (’14) also shared her musical skills and played the oboe.

Also, though there is a lack of photographic material (since she was the event photographer), Josie Camarillo regailed us of her experiences at Rodeo Bible Camp.

 

Snapshot: EL Seniors on Whitworth and the Future

As graduation grows closer and the epidemic of senioritis reaches new highs,  let’s take a moment to hear from a few of the members of EL Class of 2014 as they share what they have learned during their time at Whitworth and what is the next step after graduation.

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“During my time in Whitworth’s English department, I have had an incredible academic experience, but even the most technical aspects of that education have been made possible by the people who make up this department. Without the support, expertise, and friendship of the faculty, as well as the bonafide family-like community of the students, my passion for English would not have been fostered in the way that it has. This department has given me both a career direction and a sense of home.”

“In the fall, I will be pursuing my Ph.D. in English literature at University of California, Riverside. One of the reasons I have chosen UCR is its commitment to community alongside scholarship, a value I certainly learned from Whitworth. I hope to one day be an English professor who can continue that legacy of academic excellence and mentorship, collegiality, and fun.”

–Ana Quiring

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“It’s not about the work, though the work is considerable.
It’s not about the grade, or even the class.
It’s not even about the future.
It’s about the moment things will never be the same,
pushing beyond what you’ve always known
into a world you never knew existed
and finding there, to your surprise,
wholeness.”

“I want to help people find their wholeness just as Whitworth helped me find mine, whether that’s through work as an English professor, leading a community writing workshop, or writing as a witness and voice for the voiceless. Good things await.”

–Claire Roth

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“One thing that Whitworth has taught me is how to handle myself under intense pressure or stress. As a double major at a liberal arts university, I often feel spread thin, but I have been so grateful for the opportunity to pursue both of my passions that it was all worth it to me. Looking back, I sometimes regret not slowing down, but living life at such a breakneck speed has been both exhilarating and rewarding. As I look ahead to graduate school and my career, I am realizing how unlikely it is that I will ever be so diversified or so busy all at once as I have been these past four years at Whitworth.”

“I will be graduating with my BA in both English and Psychology. After graduation, I will be moving to Texas to attend Baylor University’s School of Social Work in pursuit of my MS.”

–Josie Camarillo

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“Being an English major has, in many ways, been a practice in humanism. I came to college expecting English to be some sort of disconnected study of language and the craft of writing. But the English department has taught me the valuable lesson that good literature and good writing is not disconnected from that which is around it. Indeed, it is integrally connected to politics, globalization, history, pop culture, religion, etc. One cannot be a good writer or a good reader while remaining blind to the world.”

“Next year I’ll be attending beginning a joint degree program, through which I will earn both a law degree and a master’s in mass communication. I will be focusing my studies on First Amendment law — specifically media and speech law.”

–Lindsie Trego (Wagner)

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“I learned that it is important to learn more about ourselves as individuals, and to not be scared to express ourselves, but also that we can never be truly independent from those around us. We need to trust and invest in our friends as we all try to navigate this weird road to adulthood and maturity together.”

“After graduating and raising money over the summer, I will backpack around the UK in September and October, 2014. Then I will spend time with family over the holidays, and then hopefully find a full time job somewhere in film in Los Angeles.”

–Rosie McFarland

 

Sneak Peek into Laura’s List

Books

Laura’s List is coming soon! It will be released Friday, May 9 at the annual Westminster Book Sale. Laura’s List is a compilation of reflections and reviews on books recommended from over 35 years of Laura Bloxham’s Summer Reading Lists.

Here is a sample of what is to come:

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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)

After completing a Holocaust Literature class with Laura Bloxham, I continued the journey to discover the truths revealed by suffering through the biography of Louis Zamperini.

At its core, the biography is a journey to discover freedom. Zamperini’s captors are numerous: the Axis Powers, the ocean, sharks, hunger, fatigue, and Japanese Sergeant Watanabe. The most formidable enemy, however, is the invisible force that continues to enslave him after the war’s end—namely hatred.

To conquer hatred, Zamperini is tasked with the arduous challenge of forgiveness. He is initially consumed with thoughts of revenge, but when told of his former tormentor’s suicide, he is overwhelmed by compassion. “At that moment, something shifted sweetly inside him. It was forgiveness, beautiful and effortless and complete. For Louie Zamperini, the war was over”(379).

The path to forgiveness allows Zamperini to reflect on the miracles God wrought to keep him alive throughout the war. Years later, the greatest miracle of Zamperini’s life is when God intervenes, not in the realm of nature, but in the realm of the human heart.

The longing for freedom burns perhaps more passionately than any other human desire. We are enslaved by fears of abandonment and death, uncertainty and failure. These fears stem from pride that drives our hatred of anything interfering with our own wellbeing. In relinquishing the pride, however, hatred dissolves away and freedom is ours.

Amber Johnson is a 2012 Whitworth graduate who is currently in her first year of medical school at Creighton University School of Medicine. She is thankful to Laura for giving her the ability to fully enjoy and skillfully analyze literature through the three classes she took with her at Whitworth, as well through the guidance she received from her as an advisor.

Internship Spotlight: Jennifer Rudsit (’16) at She’s Charming

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Earlier this semester I began an internship at She’s Charming. She’s Charming, a blog started by two Whitworth English department grads, Katie Palmer and Dani Erickson, is a space for women to celebrate all facets of their lives, embracing the idea of holistic living. Their articles are broken up into different categories: style, explore, cook, decorate, self, and career.

As their intern, I write one post a week, switching between the different categories. It’s exciting to have a lot of freedom to write within these categories, and that freedom is helping me create a more productive brainstorming process. Working with She’s Charming has taught me a lot about how ideas can come from a variety of unexpected places. I even caved and got a Pinterest account – turns out pinning provides great inspiration!

I’m also learning a lot about using visual media to complement my writing. It’s more than just writing the article; the post must also be visually compelling and interesting to the reader. With help from Katie and Dani, I’m learning about using pictures, quotes, and more to enhance my writing, and to help my posts fit into the aesthetic they’ve created for the blog.

Since starting my internship with She’s Charming, I’ve also become more aware of the strong blogging community in Spokane. There are meet-up events for bloggers in the area to connect with each other, and a lot of resources for people who are interested in or want more information about blogging. She’s Charming also focuses a lot on promoting local locations, restaurants, and companies in the Pacific Northwest, adding a unique community feel to the blog.

Blogging is becoming an extremely popular forum for discussing current events, opinions, trends, and lifestyles, as well as creating another way for people to connect and share ideas through the internet. It’s been exciting to join this community through my internship.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, you should definitely check out She’s Charming.

Jennifer Rudsit is a sophomore English writing and literature major, and theatre dance minor. In her free time, she enjoys working at the HUB Info Desk, journaling, watching BBC television, having nerdy conversations, and, of course, reading a lot of books.

Summer Job & Internship Fair Tomorrow

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What are you doing this summer?

Find out your options tomorrow at Whitworth’s Career Services’s annual Summer Job & Internship Fair. The Fair is from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, April 10) in the HUB.

If you are looking to gain some work experience or just don’t know how to spend your summer, make sure to stop by the fair. The following list is a preview to the employers attending:

Designer Fitness LLC
etailz, Inc.
Fastenal
Washington Small Business Development Center
CarMax
SCAFCO Corporation
Next IT
Gravity Jack
Spokane Civic Theatre
People to People
Costco Wholesale
Center for Justice
Spokane Faith & Values
Kalispel Tribal
Charlie Flager State Farm
Make-A-Wish
Olive Tree Bible Software
Saint George’s School
First Call for Help/Frontier Behavioral Health
Whitworth Presbyterian Church

Image from Here.

2014 Poetry Contest Winners Announced

For this year’s poetry contest, students were asked to write an abecedarian.

Dr. Richard Strauch, our faculty guest judge, was so taken with the task that he contributed his own verse to the mix:

Abecadarian poems have to

Be among the most

Challenging structures to negotiate, for the

Danger is one of pedantry: how

Easy it is to lose sight of the

Forest of beautiful language for the trees of the rules.  Yet

Good poetry acheives both; indeed, Igor Stravinsky’s words

Have equal meaning here: The more I constrain myself, the more

I free myself.

Just as I found myself looking for adherence to rules, so I

Knew a good abecedarian poem would

Let me forget the rules and simply speak to

Me.

No poem emerged as one that should be out of contention.

On the other hand, each

Presented itself

Quite individually, in its own voice,

Reaching out to me.

Selecting one winner, or even

Two, proves to be a challenge.

(Uff da, I would say, if I were Norwegian, and not so

Very German, as I am.)  Nevertheless, I am always so impressed

With Whitworthians’ work (sextuple-U!):

Excellent, and

Yes, literary Pirates trump

Zags any day of the week.

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Shannon Ritchie (’15) has won first prize and a $50 gift card to Auntie’s bookstore for her poem “Cloud-Watching.”

Shannon explains: “I’m a junior English writing major/math minor who will be graduating in December. It’s easy to identify me across campus from my hot pink Doc Martens, faded bomber jacket from the 80s, or my flamboyant My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic backpack. Next summer I will attend a Masters in Teaching program with the immediate goal of teaching high school English and possibly mathematics. However, my true aspiration is to eventually become the quirky creative writing teacher of a misunderstood junior college – and own pet seahorses.”

Dr. Strauch had this to say about Ritchie’s poem: “I was intrigued by the two poems that used the abecedarian form to evoke childhood – the ABCs are so elemental (and elementary), and the pairing of form and content seems a brilliant wedding.  What I loved about ‘Cloud-watching’ was that a set of lines that seemed at first contrived held the key for me: Is ‘simply existing’ an illusion?  I can look back to an idyllic childhood and see the extent to which my life, too, was defined by order, rules, structure – and at the same time, this is the tension of the abecedarian poem.  The language is evocative (I don’t know why, but it put me in the mind of Samuel Barber’s Knoxville 1915), and as the poem called me to remember my own childhood, it also invited me to re-examine it.”

Cloud-watching

 

Away meant simply existing

between happiness and myself.

Coloring outside of the lines I

daily sketched freedom into my routine,

earning a name for my construction.

 

Fridays brought kite flying in the

garden. Watching patterns

hurry away from grounded life,

I always felt completely

justified in my desire to be.

 

Kenton lived three houses down

Lincoln Drive. We would pick

marionberries together under each

new moon celebrating adolescence,

optimism our only language.

 

Pies required precision, intentional

quietness. Windows cracked, scent

reached to the outdoors inviting

seasons to stay. Baking meant

that neighbors may stop to say hello.

 

Under umbrellas we defied the

varying seasons. Resisting any

warnings I reminded Kenton:

x-rays had shown that all

young people were missing, like

zoo animals, the will to be.

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Dana Stull (’16) won second prize and a $20 Auntie’s gift card for her poem “Brittlebush.” Dana explains: “I write (poems and comics) and read (everything) and make pies (my favorite being rhubarb).​”

Of her poem, Strauch said, “Psalm 119 is, of course, one of the more famous abecedarian forms, though that is lost in translation. What would an abecedarian psalm in English look like?  What if David were living in the American southwest? There is a beautiful trajectory to this poem, a sense of advent, a quality of light triumphing over darkness. An empty dance gives way to an excess of joy. This was a poem upon which I found myself meditating much as I would a psalm, and which drew me in by the way that the language of confession and praise engaged all of the senses.” 

Brittlebush

 

All of it—the quiet

bloom that stuns,

calls me out of this empty

dance. I stood there, asked

everyone. A quiet

flight, the space between

God, my

hands.

 

I asked; demanded

jealous

King—shouting

love, held blind in

me. I stood there, gave

nothing. Then,

overwhelmed, my hands

 

pressed with morning—

quilted in a strange

rescue. He breathes,

tremor of ground

underneath my feet. Gives

voice to me, this

excess of joy, called out

Yahweh—

zenith King.

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EL major Erin Kreycik (’15) received an honorable mention for her poem “On Being Trapped In the Royal Court Theatre.” Strauch claimed, “This poem really intrigued me. It may be due to my discipline, but I found this poem to be one of the most musical in quality – reading it aloud enlivened it more to me that simply reading it on the page. There were several turns of phrase that caught both my ear and my imagination: ‘a thousand things that ran lapping down the aisles like dark light’; ‘rows of handkerchief voices’;  ‘No-sleep Xanax churchhood.’ This is a poem whose meaning is not readily apparent, and yet I have the feeling that, as with a great piece of music, the longer I live with it, the more it speaks to me.”

On Being Trapped In the Royal Court Theatre

(after Beckett)

All you want at first’s it all. It. All. Like

boards, like blue. Like creak—

creak. Carpetless. Slow.

Don’t ask what it is, or why. It. All.

Every face. You, too.

First this. You call this a face?

 

Go out. Come back in again.

Hush. Hush. Listen. Don’t stop.

It. All.

Jesus Christ this spotlight never stops. And your voice

 

knocked over a thousand things that ran

lapping down the aisles like dark light.

Mother. Ghost of your child-self –

nave, altar, His arm, His gushing heart.

O holy holy. Under and over.

Piss in the bedpan she won’t have emptied – not

quite                                    yet.

 

Roaring up the aisles, you a tiger’s wraith, prowling

shroud. You the woman in white. Soon.

Too soon. Not yet. Up. Down.

 

Voices, rows of handkerchief voices. You jump

when they call you woman. No-sleep

Xanax churchhood, head a prayer-book, how many shoes?

 

You hated carpet. Had to hear them. Step. Not. Step. Yet.

Zone of fracture. Till the lights go out.

 

Thanks to Annie Stillar, Thom Caraway, and Laurie Lamon for their help with the contest. And high-fives to Dr. Strauch.

Rich Strauch

Richard Strauch is professor of music and Director of the Whitworth Wind Symphony.  In addition, he teaches music history and applied low brass, and is second trombonist in the Spokane Symphony.  His area of research is the impact of religiosity on the aesthetic and reception of late 19th century music.  He holds degrees from Wheaton College and Yale University, and is in his 17th year of teaching at Whitworth.  He is married to a poet, and has three children who are also poets.

 

 

 

Congratulations to Nicole Sheets, Image’s Artist of the Month

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The literary journal Image named Nicole Sheets as their Artist of the Month for April 2014. Check out their thoughts on her work here.

And don’t miss Nicole as the MC (and participant) for tomorrow night’s Pinecone Cabaret, the annual English department fun(d)raising talent show. The show starts at 6 p.m. and will be held in the HUB’s Multipurpose Room.

Image from here.

Rosie McFarland’s (’14) Video Series Meat & Potatoes Now on Spokane FAVS

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Congratulations to Rosie McFarland,’14, whose video series Meat & Potatoes was recently picked up by Spokane Faith and Values!  McFarland started the video series to address common questions people might have about Christianity in an informative and easy to understand way.

I started my YouTube channel (Lostbetweenthepages) in my junior year and loved working with video, but I saw a prevalence of atheistic bias in the YouTube community. The religious were criticized as being ignorant and judgmental, and so no religious people were given a chance (and admittedly there are some ignorant and judgmental people who claim to be religious on the internet). I wanted to bring in my own Christian perspective and answer questions that people might have about Christianity in an easy and informative way.

After quickly realizing that I would not have the expertise or the credibility to answer these questions on my own, I looked to our own Whitworth theology department. It took me a long time to gather the courage to ask some professors if they would be interested, but after I did, they seemed to think it was a great idea, so I started asking some pastors in the community as well.

I recorded some of their answers, created a backlog, and started posting them every Friday starting in January. I called the series “Meat & Potatoes” because as the tag-line says, “Just like we need real food, we need real questions.” While not getting a lot of views, there were a couple of discussions created around some of the videos.

A couple weeks ago, I approached Spokane Faith and Values, a non-profit website organization that creates discussions around different belief in the Spokane community. I asked if they would be interested in using any of my “Meat & Potatoes” videos on their website. In our meeting, they said they would want to make my video series an official part of their website, posting a video a week to facilitate discussions around the questions the professors and pastors were answering.

It officially started this week, posting my preface video on Monday on their website – welcoming me and my video series to Spokane FAVS. I was overjoyed to see my video project being welcomed into the community, and I am excited to see where all of this leads.

Link to the Spokane FAVS website post: http://spokanefavs.com/2014/03/31/meet-potatoes-video-series-coming-spokanefavs/

Link to the “Meat & Potatoes” playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLg3kZ87agDQ-wBxHqbEutiZWIvN8Cgcr7

Next week I will be going to Haiti to film a mission trip with my home church while we build and work in a school there.

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Rosemary McFarland grew up in the mountains at a Christian summer camp before moving to the country. She says the beautiful surroundings made her fall in love with the outdoors. 

In her free time McFarland enjoys reading, making videos for her YouTube channel Lostbetweenthepages, and watching an unhealthy amount of television. She now attends Whitworth University and will graduate in May with a BA in English and a minor in theology. After raising money over the summer she will backpack around the UK, and then hopefully find a full time job somewhere in film.

Kevin Goodan Reading Tomorrow

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Welcome back from Spring Break! Here are a few friendly reminders of what is happening this week:

English Endowed Reading with Poet Kevin Goodan this Tuesday, April 1 at 7 p.m. in the HUB Multipurpose Room! See above poster for more details.

Also on Tuesday, April 1, WaCLA Essay Contest deadline. Please submit your essay and cover sheet to Julie Shanholtzer in Robinson Science Hall 103. Any questions can be directed to jshanholtzer@whitworth.edu.

And don’t miss the Electivefest Thursday, April 3 from 11:30-12:30 in Westminster 252.

As the grand finale to this week, the Pinecone Cabaret hosted by Nicole Sheets will be Friday, April 4 at 6 p.m. in the HUB Multipurpose Room. The annual English Department Fun(d)raising Talent Show’s tips will go to Spokane FAVS (spokanefavs.com), a nonprofit religion news site in Spokane.