An Enchanting Interview with Awarded Poet Susanna Childress

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By: Emily Church

Before Susanna Childress’ campus reading on April 6th, I accompanied her for lunch in Whitworth’s dining hall and a discussion about her writing. Knowing that Childress was an awarded, successful writer, based on the research I had conducted before my interview like any good interviewer should do, I was nervous as I waited, in anticipation, for Childress’ arrival with Thom Caraway. She has received an AWP Intro Journals Award, the Nation Career Award in Poetry from the National Society of Arts and Letters, a Lilly post-doctoral fellowship, and her first book, Jagged with Love, was awarded the Brittingham Prize in Poetry. She was everything I wanted to someday be and I couldn’t believe I was getting this opportunity to speak with her.

Susanna Childress is a delightful human being. Once our lunch began, discussion flowed smoothly and, for the first time in weeks, I felt at peace. In our short span of thirty minutes, we covered everything from humor in writing, the magic of public readings, and how different forms call to us at different points in our life.

To feel prepared for my interview, I visited Childress’ website in order to get an idea of her style of writing, since I hadn’t encountered it before. I listened to some audio recordings of Childress’ reading some of her poems and was immediately drawn in. I was amazed by her ability to talk about these difficult, dark subjects while making her audience laugh in the process. When I asked her about the inclusion of humor in her poetry, she told me that while she had thought of herself as a humorous person in her personal life, she had never thought of her writing as humorous until after poet Billy Collins picked her first book to be awarded the Brittingham Prize. She said, “he mentioned how humorous it was and appreciated how there was a lot of whit in it, and I was like what?” It is not in the process of writing, but in the experience of reading her work to the public that finding that humor becomes a priority.  She finds that even though she doesn’t try for humor in the beginning, predicting that if she tried to be funny it would “fall very flat,” she thinks it’s a necessary element for her readers. “I do tend to write about darker subject matter and it seems to me that people are willing to go someplace hard if you’ve invited them into something more humorous…they will cry with you if you make them laugh. If you just make them cry, then they’ll recent you. My goal for every reading to make them laugh before I make them cry.”

Amid our talk about making people laugh and creating time to write in her busy life, she mentioned how she was working on a book of essays with a small independent publisher. I was curious about how her inspiration and process for the essays differed from her process of writing poetry. For Childress, the form of the essay was what she needed in her life right now. She stated how “one of the reasons that I moved to prose was that the circumstances of my personal life required of me a different escape. The way that I was processing the grief and the transition was very dramatic, and in some ways traumatic, and I couldn’t step into the chaos of poetry.” She talked with me about how since she doesn’t typically write narrative poetry, her poetry involves making a lot of leaps and the following of your subconscious. While, in hindsight, she thinks that this process could have ended up being a kind of therapy, it was too much to handle at the time. “The length of the sentence gave me something more restful,” she said. “I felt like the things that were happening in my life were all very connected and I couldn’t make those connections in poetry.” She needed space and a different kind of structure. For me, this discussion highlighted something new about the different forms in writing that I had never thought of before. Sometimes, due to the content of your writing, one form, or genre, may seem safer or more useful than another, even if this new form is different from what you’ve done before. I was amazed and I was inspired.

One piece of advice from Susanna Childress that is pertinent to young writers is the idea that in making time for writing, you will then want to write more. She said we, as students, should be rejoicing in the fact that right now writing is part of required assignments that need to be completed. Through juggling working full time and having small children, Childress understands the importance of those hours that she is able to dedicate each week to write. In creating a discipline for yourself, Childress said, “the discipline feeds the desire. By making time, you’ll want to make more time to write. Building that discipline is difficult, but could be worth it.”

So, keep reading. Keep writing. And go ahead and thank your wonderful English professors for assigning all those essays and workshop pieces. Plus, also thank them for convincing Susanna Childress to come visit our campus.

 

Emily Church (’17) is a graduating senior and the current managing editor of the blog. She is majoring in English Writing, as well as Sociology, with a minor in psychology. She enjoys hiking, discovering new writers, attending AWP, editing, and the prospect of working with juveniles after graduation. 

The Art in Sound, the Sound of Art: Susanna Childress’ Campus Reading

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By: Kalani Padilla

Before I talk about Susanna Childress and her poetry, I want to dwell for a moment on the venue.

I still take a lot of (undeserved) pride in the 1.5 semesters I endured as a music major. I sympathize with the struggles of friends now braving upper division theory and ear training classes; I criticize this melodic line or that chord, this translation or that key change; I monopolize the Lantern for long study hours and leave highly-trained musicians to use the lounge just outside the bathrooms. Even before non-music majors, I pretend to qualify as an honorary. After finding out Susanna Childress would be reading in the recital hall, I told people they should “come early,” recalling my own memories of the room being full to overflowing with hosts of loving peers, and hordes of procrastinators (trying to get their last three required recital hours all on one night).

The recital hall is a special place, but when I pushed through the door, I immediately started to prickle with past anxieties. I was remembering all the tears I’ve seen shed— all the tears that I’d shed—in that room as a voice student. Though seeing the room filled with people from my new home department made me feel protected, I also felt like a traitor and a coward. So you’re back, I felt the room say, what are you here for? What are you here as?

And yet, I was given, by Susanna Childress’ performance, the audacity to answer both. Childress’s poems, (and the kind voice with which she gave them) were open invitations to each of us to share in her joy and vulnerability. Her confessional and inquisitive writing compels us to identify with all these jagged notions of love, from the viewpoint of child, father, wife, stranger, daughter. These were poems about the physicality of solitude, the familiarity of strangers, the predictability of intimacy. Poems about learning to embrace that which could cut you. Poems about worlds small enough to cradle like a bird. Poems infused with the laughter and tears that inspired them.

And when she sang, when she sang! I feel like we’re so selfish as audiences, to be projecting our own sorry images onto those brave enough to take the stage. But it happens. I closed my eyes and remembered what it was like to give the gift of my voice without the assurance of it being accepted. Speaking with her after her reading, she laughed when she stated that she wasn’t a trained singer, and I marveled to myself about the journey in-between that, and the stack of fully produced albums to her left. Here was Susanna Childress, boldly demonstrating to us that art is loving the things you’ve created so much that you must share them—even when, and especially when it makes you vulnerable.

This morning I listen to a song cascade from the Lantern’s grand piano down to Main Street, with Childress’s Jagged With Love open on my lap. From here I know the quietude, the turbulent grace, and honest longing of art, and that the sound of the heart is equal parts poetry and song.

Kalani Padilla (’19) is a student of English, Theology, and Film & Visual Narrative at Whitworth University. She is also involved in the music program as a singer and Campus Worship leader. Most of all, Kalani is a proud kama’aina, inspired in all things by the people, culture, and Creator of her home in the state of Hawai’i.

At the End of the World: On Self-Publishing a Book and Whitworth’s Role

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By: Sarah Michelle Cruz

Whitworth’s English Department offers an amazing class taught by Thom Caraway, where your final project is to literally publish a book. When I took it, the class was called, “Literary Editing and Design,” so we learned how to use In-Design in order to create every aspect of what our finished product would look like, from front to back: The book cover, to the binding, type of material, font, and the list goes on. At the same time, we learned some material editing aspects to prepare us for the publication of our own book.

It was a lot to compact into one course, but definitely rewarding. If you want to know what the self-publishing journey feels like, it’s a little bit like a process full of sweat, tears, frustration, excitement, trial and error. Editing in itself takes a large amount of time with a huge amount of attention to detail. Depending on how long ago you wrote your text, you might end up over-critical toward your writing. I remember that one of my classmates said it would be “a pain in the ass” if she found typos in her published copy. I laughed and didn’t think much of it until I found a typo on the first page of my finished product. In addition, learning to use the In-Design program is difficult in itself, and if you didn’t constantly press save, you have the potential to lose hours of work progress. Sometimes there are issues of missing details on the program, and the mistake is pretty visible in the printed produce. It all takes patience and a willingness to persevere even when your book doesn’t “look” like how you imagined it. But on that note, there’s potential for the book to look even better than you imagine it.

Watching my book come to life was incredibly fun. It is called, “At the End of the World,” and it is a compilation of short stories in the perspective of characters living in a time where the Earth’s trajectory toward spiraling into the sun is inevitable, and the world’s destruction is undeniable. It’s separated into five sections: North, South, East, West, and Andalusia Sky (the “fabled” city in the sky that is believed to survive after the Earth’s destruction), and each sections consisted of four short stories. I had a distinct image of what I wanted the book cover to be, but didn’t have the art skills to make it a reality. So I sketched an image of a man holding a suitcase, looking over the edge of a cliff with a giant orange sun behind him, then I sent it to my friend to paint it. Her adaption of my image is now the cover of my book! As I played around with drawing tools in In-Design, I found that I could create some interesting abstract images. Playing around with that turned into symbolic chapter section images, and the final few pages of my book consists of a series of abstract images that actually look like an explosion that dies down to nothing. That was just a fun result of playing around, which can happen to anyone during the publication process!

If you’re a writer and thinking of ways to publish your book, going the self-publishing route leaves you with many options to create it any way you want, and then distribute it any way you want. I’m currently in the process of figuring out how to publish my book traditionally, and that takes paying large amounts for an editor, finding agents, and waiting for a reliable publication company to publish the product. If anything, there’s even Amazon publishing. I would just encourage any writer to move past the fear of having your work “out there,” whether in a blog or published and sold in stores. You have something wonderful to offer, and the publication process will grow you as an individual, and help you to become a stronger artist.   

Sarah Michelle Cruz is a Whitworth Alum (’16) who majored in English Writing and Psychology. She is currently living in California’s Bay Area, focusing on writing her second novel and readying her first book for publication. She is also a singer/songwriter working on producing her music just for the sake of sharing it.

Thursday April 6th: Come to the Susanna Childress Poetry Reading!

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Join the Whitworth University English Reading Series in welcoming poet Susanna Childress.

The reading will take place in the Cowles Music Building in the recital hall at 7pm.

Her most recent book, Entering the House of Awe, was publish by New Issues Press, and won the 2012 prize in poetry from the Society of Midland Authors. Her first book, Jagged with Love, was awarded the Brittingham Prize in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin and the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award from the University of Southern Illinois-Carbondale. She has received an AWP Intro Journals Award, the National Career Award in Poetry from the National Society of Arts and Letters, and a Lilly post-doctoral fellowship. She lives in Holland, Michigan.

 

Bird of Paradise: A short story by Devon Clements

Every year, students and their selected papers attend The National Undergraduate Literature Conference, this year taking place in Oregon. As sort of a preview to the conference, here is an early viewing of the short story that Junior Devon Clements was selected to read.

Bird of Paradise
By: Devon Clements

Jessica had loved birds for as long as she could remember. Her childhood bedroom had been awash with the vibrant color photographs she had clipped from magazines or printed from her elementary schools library, featuring everything from the stunning bold plumage of tropical parrots to the everyday humble, yet nonetheless beautiful washed out browns and reds of Sparrows and Robbins. She distinctly remembered spending countless hours, dime store binoculars pressed close to her eyes, in the backyard of her childhood home, scanning the dense deciduous foliage for any sight of the avian creatures.  Even throughout her teenage years, through the loss of her mother to cancer, and her father to a motor vehicle accident; which Jess explained was unintentional, yet in reality, was due to her father’s crippling alcoholism which had set in at the loss of his wife, Jessica had retained a love and fascination for the birds of the world. In fact in her most honest and self-aware moments she accepted that the concept of flight was no doubt a strong sub-conscious attraction to the bird, for its ability to at any given moment leap into the air as if God himself were blowing upon their fragile wings and travel to another place, another land, another life. Though tragedy had struck her twice in her short existence she had refused to give up hope and had gotten deeply involved in extracurricular activities her senior year of high school, mainly focusing on raising awareness of the habitat destruction of the Amazon due to the savage use of palm oil by the large, and as she would be quick to point out, heedlessly greedy corporations of the world. These forays into public awareness raising were ultimately futile, and as she grew older her hope in a world change faded into a hope for policy change and eventually dissolved into a cynicism, which if left unchecked would consume her. College was never on the short list for Jess, after graduating from her un-prestigious, Midwest public high school she remained at her waitressing job at The Round-a-bout café, rarely venturing out of the small town she had lived all her life.

Years went by, as they tend to do, and Jess remained in the same insignificant township her only change in that of her profession, having lost what childhood hope she had once retained to the dark, dreary, and ultimately futile, pursuit known as life. Her joy now came only as flickers, snatches of a forgotten dream dosed out to her in the smallest of increments. That first drag on her smoke break, the exhausted sigh of relief as she slides into her old Dodge Neon accompanied by the mechanical click as her key slides perfectly into the ignition. She has learned to not only appreciate these moments, but to truly cherish them, as one would cherish a child’s smile opening his first Christmas present, the glint of true unadulterated happiness present, if only for a second. Jess still thought of birds, obsessively at times, but her only true and complete devotion to the creatures was through her dreams. As each night would arrive she would eagerly close her eyes, the soft cotton of her pillow caressing her head like the warm down of a mother hen, and she would began to free herself from the human filth of her life. As the physical space of her room left her, its stark white walls melting into the brightest tropical auroras of the rainforest, Jess would finally feel peace. She would spend countless hours gliding through the sky, her feathers allowing her to soar ever higher. The far off oceans and lands that in her waking hours were far beyond her reach could now be as easily attained as if crossing the street. Time, distance, speed, these were all things of the real world and within Jessica’s sub-conscious sleeping brain, nothing was impossible.

Slowly, in time with the degradation of her last remaining shreds of happiness, these fantasies broke into her waking world. Without her realization Jess found herself more and more absent minded, she was free of the despair and hopelessness of her stagnant, routine thoughts, and was instead allowed to exist in a world of fantasy. As those who have ever experienced a true and all-encompassing drug addiction will know, once the substitution of reality becomes a daily option, it will soon become more than a habit, it will transform into a way of life, a mantra repeatedly circling the mind of the user, leaving little room for anything or anyone else. This was the state of Jessica’s mind as she sat, motionless, her eyes trance like, seeming to see everything, yet at the same time nothing at all. The pounding bass of the music around her barely registered as her boss Joseph Olsen approached her, a large bald headed man exhibiting the outer characteristics of a person who once sought to be in one of the countless biker gangs which stream across the south, but has now retired into a resentful and exhausted nightclub owner. His brow dripped sweat as he hoisted some form of buckled harness over Jess, clipping it together behind her back. “That’s my girl, my sweet girl” he whispered into her ear as he tightened the straps on either side of her bosom. “It’s your time babe, your time to be the star of the show” he chuckled into her unhearing ear. Joseph attached the final part of her elaborate vest, a large matte silver carabineer that fit snugly into a hook at the rear of her new piece of equipment.

As the cable, which was now connected to Jessica’s vest, began to pull snug and slowly drag her off the stool and into the air, she remained oblivious to her surroundings. The pounding music surrounded her body as it dazzled amidst countless neon lights, illuminating her frame to the satisfaction of the men below. She climbed ever higher, and as her weight began to distribute she slowly began an ellipse through the air. As she passed an enormous mirror her eyes came in to focus and she looked. Before her was a women in her late 20’s, all signs of joy replaced by wrinkles and scarring which belonged to a women much older then she, yet, her body remained a picture of feminine attraction and was scantily clad in a small red and orange thong, the straps of which twinkled in the florescent lighting, above that her breasts barely concealed beneath a similarly bright top lay just below the straps of her harness. Her hair was arranged in a provocatively messy set of curls entwined with faux feathers, most likely synthetic and produced in a large coal burning sweat shop, inhabited by the lowliest of Chinese day laborers. This was the picture presented to Jessica, but when she allowed recognition into her vision she gasped as she span, weightless through the air, what she saw before her was the mesmerizingly beautiful plumage of the creatures she had loved all her life. She closed her eyes once more, the cat calls and jeering of the men below her replaced by the chirping and cawing of the rainforest, and as she continued to swing above the sexual and barbarous crowd below her, she let herself go and at last had become what she had dreamed of her whole life, a bird of paradise.

 

Devon Clements. Class of 2018. English Philosophy major. Missouri. Soccer. Coffee. Historical Fiction. Edward Sharpe. Of Human Bondage. Travel. Moleskine. Pens. Vans. United Kingdom. Trees. Gym. Literature. Sour. Northwest. Theatre. Explore. Skateboard. Run. Cats. Blue. Finishe

LAO Film Festival 2017: A Visit with Dr. Alexandra Hildago

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By: Emily Hanson

Three things that you need to know about Alexandra Hildago:

#1: She speaks three languages: English, Spanish, and French. She used to speak a little bit of Russian too.

#2: She publishes an online publication that she co-founded, Agnés Films, which supports women’s work with reviews, interviews, narratives and essays.

#3: She identifies as a feminist.

All this goes to say is that Dr. Hildago is an amazing woman with an intriguing life. I was able to talk to her before the showing of her film, Vanishing Borders, was shown at the LAO Film Festival, and the conversation I had with her was enlightening to me as a writer, and as a person who is part of American society.

The conversation with Dr. Hildago started on a Google Docs. I was looking forward to seeing her think as she typed on a shared document. There is something about a thought process that can never be replicated because it is an experience different to each individual. The questions I asked her, concerned her movie, her experiences during the movie, and about feminism. The film was made after her own experience of emigrating from Venezuela when she was 16 years old. Vanishing Borders features four women from different backgrounds in order to “[provide] a more holistic account of what immigration looks like for women from around the globe” commented Dr. Hildago. The misrepresentation of immigrant women concerned Dr. Hildgao, causing her to make the film. The film was made to “humanize immigrants” and as Dr. Hildago had shown Vanishing Borders for three years, the film is doing what it was made to do. While on the topic of the film’s purpose, she commented, “I hope it reminds those watch it that immigrants are not abstract threats but complex humans who often bring richness and nuance to the country that hosts them.” In a world where “immigrant” holds a bad connotation, the reminder that immigrants offer more diversity to the country they come to carries an important message, as Dr. Hildago said.

Dr. Hildago’s lecture on campus the night that I interviewed her was just as interesting as speaking with her that morning. While not many of the same topics from our conversation came up, it was clear to me that her life is lived through film and stories. In coordination with family across the globe and at home, she made a film Desaparacido about the disappearance of her father while in the Amazon. The lecture was about the making of the film and the making of memoirs in general. Creating a memoir using Cultural Rhetoric and utilizing the culture to create something as a community was at the forefront of the lecture. “Creating Together” was at the center during the making of the documentary Desaparacido. Dr. Hildago talked to family and friends and anybody who knew her father in order create a documentary that showed many different aspects of her life. What was interesting to me during the lecture was that in the making of Desaparacido, there was a time when things were not turning out like she had planned and the film was a danger of digging into her father’s life.

Alexandra Hildago’s visit to campus was a learning experience for everybody involved. Vanishing Borders and her lecture about memoirs offered new insights to subjects both new and old. The experiences that Dr. Hildago shared and the lessons she taught are ones that are invaluable to those who were present or for those who watch her films.

Emily Hanson is one of our freshman writers and is a lively addition to the team.

Reflections on a semester with the LA Film Studies Center

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We all know that internships and programs are great because they provide us with real life experience and allow us to make connections, but what makes them truly wonderful is when they help us to realize that we’ve got the skills and the passion to pursue what we love.

In the fall of 2016, film studies student and inspiring actress Sarah Cardel spent her semester at the LA Film Studies Center, and it was an experience she’ll never forget.

Interview with Sarah Cardel
By: Sarah Michelle Cruz

In the desert filming La Promesa

In the desert filming La Promesa

What is the program you were involved in and what made it unique?

I was involved in LAFC – LA Film Studies Center- It’s a semester film program that immerses you in the industry both as an intern while also teaching you how to work professionally on a set. It offers opportunities for anyone in the industry- weather editing, acting, or whatever specialty you want to get into on a more focused level. It allows you to work with others and form a team

For example, in one class me and a team of students worked together to complete a short film from start to finish using industry protocol (We had to provide meals for actors, pull permits for location use, etc). The classroom setting allows you to experience what the industry looks like on a smaller scale.

Behind the scenes of La Promesa (where I was DP) – not in this one

Editing my final scene for my acting class

Editing my final scene for my acting class

 What opportunities did you receive through this program that you might not have gotten elsewhere?

I was able to develop a community with the semester class I had, alongside alumni of the program. They provided me with the tools to network with others outside of the program and make connections with people in the industry.

 I got hands on with professional equipment to complete the films that we did. For example I got to be director of photography (the cinematographer) for our main short film and we used Red Dragon, which is a professional camera that’s used on television and movie sets.

Bloopers from Some Scenes With Red (another short I was in)

Bloopers from Some Scenes With Red (another short I was in)

 In what ways have you grown during your time in LA, and what have you learned that you wouldn’t have learned at Whitworth?

 Through my internship, I was able to see the business side of talent in the industry and was able to learn through the experiences of others’ lessons about how it all works, as well as the culture in Hollywood.

 By doing this, I gained a lot more confidence in myself as an artist and aspiring actress. Being in a community of filmmakers gave me an opportunity to do work with like-minded people who also want to pursue their goals.

 While Whitworth focuses on film theory and discussions about film, LAFC provides a creative outlet for transforming theory into reality. It’s more application-based, rather than theory-based.

The La Promesa cast and crew at the premier

The La Promesa cast and crew at the premier

 What are some of your highlights during your semester?

 Night-long/All-nighter film shoots, the relationships I made with the other students in the program, and the many guest speakers, such as different directors and actors in the industry. Doug Jones is one that stands out to me! He is a Christian actor in the industry who is also known for his role as the fawn in Pan’s Labyrinth. He has the most welcoming personality wherever he goes.

Doug Jones!

Doug Jones!

 In what ways have you seen yourself change?

Change is definitely a process, but I know I am more confident in my skills and in owning my goals and aspirations…seeing that it’s part of my purpose and not just a far-fetched dream.

Cardel is currently working as an assistant for a management company in West Hollywood and is taking some time to explore her creativity and expand herself as an artist.

Sarah Michelle Cruz is a Whitworth Alum (’16) who majored in English Writing and Psychology. She is currently living in California’s Bay Area, focusing on writing her second novel and readying her first book for publication. She is also a singer/songwriter working on producing her music just for the sake of sharing it.

Welcoming Dr. D.B Emerson to Whitworth

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By: Emily Hanson

This past fall, Whitworth welcomed Dr. Bert Emerson to the English Department. For those of you who were fortunate enough to take a class from him — either his Survey of American Literature Before 1865, British Women’s Writers, Novels of the Upper 19th Century , or Hamilton — you know him as an enthusiastic professor with a grudge against the dark and the cold. For those of you who haven’t gotten the chance to interact with him yet, I was able to ask Bert ten questions so that you might get to know him as well.

dr-emerson

Where have you taught before Whitworth?

I have taught at Pomona College and at Cal Poly Pomona.

 What about Whitworth made you want to come teach here?

I was drawn to Whitworth because it is a liberal arts college,that has the small school experience. The community was a big part of it as well. I was really interested in the faith and learning aspect of Whitworth because it was different from the other schools that I have taught at.

What exactly do you specialize in?

19th century American Literature and Political Culture.

What has been your favorite class to teach at Whitworth?

They have all been wonderful. The Survey was a challenge because it covered such a vast time period. The Novels of the Upper 19th Century was amazing because of the depth and trajectory with which we explored the novels with. With British Women Writers, I was able to explore and read books that I haven’t in a long time while thinking about how much the culture of Britain and America were intertwined and affecting each other. With Hamilton, I was able to immerse myself in Jan Term and think about the founding of America and explore the literature there.

What work of literature has influenced you the most?

That’s a really broad question, I don’t know how to answer that, there are so many different possibilities and different literatures that affect the present day — but it has to be provocative and innovative; like a cliché destroying and imaginative work.

Being from Alabama and California, what about Spokane is different, aside from the weather?

The weather is a big part of it, but it is interesting to see that there are good people in different places, along with different attitudes. The local culture is also something that is always different from place to place and something that I want to explore. I want to experience the world, and I believe in the inherent goodness of people and it is amazing to see the different manifestations of that.

What are you looking forward to most at Whitworth? What are your goals?

I’m excited to craft my way of teaching as well as working with the student’s getting to know them, as well as the community. Getting to know Spokane — when it’s warm and in the light. Writing as well, I get to finish my book. My goals are to get to know and work with every student, help them learn culture and knowledge and writing skills. I hope to make sure that everybody improves.

What research are you working on right now?

I am writing an introduction to a book on democracy in America which is also connected to my book project about democratic thinking before the Civil War.

What book do you seem to come back to?

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Fun fact?

No fun facts, I’m a pretty boring person.

As I quickly learned after getting the initial answer to question #10, that it was a lie, he just told me not to write about it in the article. But, as I hope you are all interested in getting to know Bert better, as he is a delightful person and is great at having thoughtful and deep conversations, I hope that you swing by his office, get to know him better, and ask about that fun fact — I promise that it will be worth it.

Dr. Emerson has also recently published an article for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Check it out here.

Emily Hanson is one of our freshman writers and is a lively addition to the team.

 

Alumni Profile: Jennifer Rudsit (’16)

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By: Emily Church

While I enjoy talking with anyone that has graduated from Whitworth, as a graduating senior I find it relieving to hear from those who have just graduated within the past year and learn about the exciting opportunities that they have come across and get a peek into what the near future will be like.  Alumna Jennifer Rudsit offers a refreshing look into the year following graduation. She almost makes me forget my anxieties about the approaching future. Almost.

image-jenn

What have you been up to since graduation?

Since graduation there have been many transitions. I’ve become quite skilled at packing and unpacking a suitcase, so if I succeed at nothing else in life, there’s always that. After I graduated this past May I had the opportunity to attend the University of Denver Publishing Institute, where I received a Certificate of Publishing. The institute was basically a four week crash course on the publishing industry, complete with editing and marketing workshops, resume and interview coaching, lectures and networking opportunities with publishing professionals, free books, and a bunch of introverted book nerds attempting to network. After that I headed home to Gig Harbor, Washington, and enjoyed some free rent (thanks parents), and after a couple stressful months of applying for jobs and shedding many a tear, I started a seasonal retail job. During my four months of retail I also picked up a couple of side jobs doing some social media/author assistant work for a local Gig Harbor writer and helping out as the Assistant Web Editor for Rock & Sling.

My most recent and exciting transition, however, happened this past week when I started an internship with Copper Canyon Press in Port Townsend, Washington. Copper Canyon is a non-profit poetry press that publishes emerging and established poets from around the world. I don’t entirely know what interning at Copper Canyon is going to look like since, you know, it’s only been a week, but based on intern life so far we will be reading manuscripts, completing projects for the staff, working with a one-on-one staff mentor, and basically just working with incredible people doing incredible things.

  1. How did you get there?

I ended up at the Denver Publishing Institute mainly because wonderful professors and friends supported me and brought opportunities and connections to my attention throughout my senior year. I first heard about publishing certificate programs during an informational interview I did my sophomore year with the Sales and Marketing Manager at Shelf Awareness in Seattle, and things like taking Literary Editing and Design, joining Rock & Sling, and attending AWP helped me know for sure I wanted to apply, and also helped me get into the program. I knew about Copper Canyon Press before going to Denver, but during the publishing institute looked more seriously into internships and entry-level positions at presses in the Seattle area. I applied in November, and here I am!

  1. How has your English degree served you since graduation?

My English degree has served me in so many ways. I mean, it’s only been eight months, but still. Besides helping me grow as a reader, writer, and human being during my time at Whitworth, it has served me in so many practical and specific ways since graduation. The work we did in Senior Portfolio gave me the skills and confidence I needed to write cover letters and apply for jobs both during and after the Denver Publishing Institute. Learning how to write for a specific audience is necessary for writing readers reports for manuscript submissions, press releases for books, and in daily work interactions. The past few days in my internship I’ve been so grateful for all the poetry classes I took as I’ve started to read manuscripts because they taught me how to read quickly and comprehensively as well as how to analyze and discuss poetry. And I already know that working with Rock & Sling – reading submissions, being pushed to form and share opinions on poems – will be helpful to me as I complete my internship. With everything happening in the world, I am grateful to have a degree that has helped me develop my analytical skills, expand my empathy, and given me tools to examine the world from different lenses. Those skills will always serve me well. Plus, all of the snarky and witty conversation that happened in the English department lounge has made me a better conversationalist.

  1. What’s the best/most fun thing that you’ve done since graduation?

Well, I got a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas, so that was pretty exciting. But besides that, I honestly have to say that this first week of my internship has been the most fun, and definitely the best thing that I’ve done since graduation. It feels so good to be working in a community of people who are engaged with the world, people who value literature and the arts and believe that poetry is vital to language and living. I know I’m exactly where I need to be right now. I have no idea what my life will look like after this internship, and I’m sure I’m going to completely freak out about that at some point, but right now that’s okay. The next transition will come.

Emily Church (’17) is an English Writing and Sociology major at Whitworth University from western Washington and dreams of one day traveling the world. She enjoys writing, reading, painting, collecting journals (not writing in them), fall leaves, summer warmth, and adventure.

The British Isles Study Program 2018: Collect Memories

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By: Emily Church

One of the most impactful things  one can do during their time at Whitworth is participate in a study abroad trip or program. While I’ve never been outside of the country with a Whitworth group, I still like to consider the three days that I spent up on Mt. Baker for my Adventure and Travel Writing class with Professor John Pell as my abroad experience. There is something about going somewhere new with perhaps an unfamiliar group of people that takes the act of learning and experiencing to a new level.

With the approach of the study abroad fair and the different informational sessions, there is one study abroad trip that should be brought to the forefront of any humanity studies fan’s mind: The 2018 British Isles Study Program (BISP).

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The upcoming BISP trip will expand from February 14th until May 8th and allows students the opportunity to travel through England, Scotland, Wales, and the Republic of Ireland. The first module of the trip is British Isles Art and Craft led by art Professor Katie Creyts.  Students will see historic and contemporary Ireland through a creative lens by visiting unique architecture like abbeys, castles, forts and cathedrals, listening to folktales and songs voiced by the local Irish, and discussing the powerful visual graffiti in Belfast. The second module of the trip is led by Professor Corliss Slack on the Topics in British History. During this section, monuments will be used to tell the story of Scotland by taking tours to Loch Ness, Roslyn Castle, and the Kingdom of Fife. Then it will be off to Caernarvon, Wales were students will stay overlooking the sea and exploring Edward I’s castles. The third module explores Literary England with Thom Caraway who will take students to where William Wordsworth walked and wrote, and met with Percy and Mary Shelley, and Samuel Coleridge. See where J.R.R Tolkien dreamed of the Shire and the mysterious Moors of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. The fourth and final module will be spent with theater professor Aaron Dyszelski to explore Fine Arts Culture in Britain Theatre by attending a performance at the acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the Royal Opera House, and the National Theater.

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The 2018 BISP trip has a lot to offer, but as those who have been on previous year’s trips have said, sometimes it’s the moments that happen outside of the major touristy spots that continue to resonate months after the trip is over. One of the students from the 2015 trip, Aly Brooks, now a senior English major, shared her reflective podcast, “Collect Memories Not Things.”

Collect Memories Not Things

By: Aly Brooks

I didn’t want to get stuck in the tourist trap mentality of documenting every second forthe sake of having evidence to show others while forgetting to actually enjoy the experience of living it. Life is so rarely about the things I accumulate around me. I think of rich and varied experiences and the people who lived life to the full and enjoyed telling the tale afterward.

No more than a week into the semester, I considered this mantra once more. I was confronted with the option of using my day off in Dublin to go on a day trip or stay in town and take life at a slower pace. I had an hour to decide. I chose the day trip to the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast. To this day, the Cliffs of Moher are one of my absolute favorite places on the entire trip. I spent the best Valentine’s Day of my life with five friends exploring the Irish west coast, listening to folklore, and trying some of the best brown bread my tongue has ever known. I spent 50 euros on a day trip that I will remember for the rest of my life rather than a fancy trinket that will only take up space on a shelf somewhere. It helped me cultivate a habit that gave me more stories and less regret.

Months later, I spent the last two days of Spring Break on the French Riviera in Nice. Spring Break emphasized this lesson I was learning. I didn’t buy a single souvenir while in Paris, and yet Paris holds some of my most cherished memories from the semester. I remember nights making dinner together in the hostel, sharing a bottle of cheap red wine and dancing in the kitchen. I lost myself in the genius of impressionist paintings in the Musee D’Orsay. I read in the March sunshine at the edge of a fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens. In Nice, I swam in the Mediterranean Sea, and all it cost me was the cash to buy a bikini. I have a priceless memory that had nothing to do with the kinds of funds I had at my disposal.

Memories like this typify the wonderful experiences I took away from this trip. Most souvenirs can only point me to those memories and add to the clutter in my life. Living out of a suitcase for three months taught me how many physical objects I am able to go without. It is easiest to travel light and quick instead of letting myself get bogged down with tea cups or books. Instead, my memories only weigh as much as my moleskin journal can hold in between its pages stacked with ticket stubs, postcards, and words. That lightweight notebook was my constant companion, and now, it’s a better souvenir than anything I could have found in a tourist shop. It’s a time capsule of thoughts and feelings about my experiences. The British Isles Semester Program gave me a new perspective on the things I value. Trips are always more about the adventure than they are about the prize at the end.

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Be on the look out for the information sessions and the application for the upcoming BISP trip!