Katie Carmella Dolan (’11) and Prof. Katie Creyts Featured In Spokane-Based Podcast

Q: Wait. Is Nicole using the EL Department blog as a platform for her own creative projects?

A: Well, it certainly seems that way.

Q: But this is still for the greater good and stuff?

A: Yes. Yes, I’m sure it is.

Rambunctious Vernacular is a Spokane-based podcast series in the vein of This American Life. I lifted (with permission) the name Rambunctious Vernacular from the homework of one of our talented undergrads, Josie Camarillo (’14).

Episode one (about 10:30) includes an interview with Katie Creyts, Associate Professor of 3-D art and sculpture at Whitworth, and EL and Theater alum, Katie Carmella Dolan (’11).

Have a listen! And if you’ve got story ideas, hit me: nsheets@whitworth.edu

(Sketch above from speartoons.)

Creative Writing Sampler: Ana Quiring (’14) Presents “Beyond The Back 40”

Ana Quiring (’14, above right, with fellow EL major jaQ DeJong, ’12, left) hails from Fresno, CA. Her study abroad blog from Fall 2011’s British Isles Study Program (which who knows, maybe she’ll start up again) is http://allswankandstuff.tumblr.com/

Ana submitted the photos, including this “lamely poserly Instagramed photo of the back 40” and the creative nonfiction below, her response to a group event in EL 245 Creative Writing.

Here’s Ana: For our nonliterary event, we decided to venture “beyond the Back 40,” exploring areas of and beyond Whitworth that we’d never seen before. Because we viewed the simple walk as an adventure to be constructed in postproduction, as it were, even familiar landmarks took on a new perspective. We posed by backhoes, slipped through a narrow fence, and wandered in the neighborhood behind the Back 40. This was a rather unorthodox approach to breaching the Pinecone Curtain—not traveling far away, outside our comfort zones and into totally new regions, but barely pushing the edges, seeing what is directly outside our stiff borders. The experiment was rather like a slow beginning to understanding the world outside of Whitworth, starting not a square mile outside.

The Back 40, a stretch of fairly uninhabited forty acres behind our school, is not our refuge, but our refuse. Just as the scent of pine starts to waft, we’ve reached a service road, tattered by construction rigs. Just as the sound of dorm life disappears, we reach the wan and close-clipped grass of an abandoned soccer field. Even that grass is strewn with garbage—the chaff of endless mowing, dry and soft like gerbil bedding.

The woodsy bits of the hillside behind our school are dark with needles, scattered with decomposing pinecones, but tan lines of path are carved into the dirt. We can look across a sunny patch and see the white shorn ankles of a thousand trees, where they used to be, slender and underfed.

The trees aren’t underfed by their environment, because a mile, two miles away, the pines bloom into deep prickly mazes. They’re malnourished in the Back 40 by lack of silence. They never have to wonder about “If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s nobody there to hear it”—East Hall, two hundred yards away, will hear.

The Back 40 is not a forest.

We’re bleeding it dry because it has to be so many things to us. First thing in the morning, it cracks its back, rubs its dusty eyebrows, and gets trampled immediately with the training montages of a hundred different sports. It lets in legions of soccer players, linear troops of track runners, faces slack and hot. Lone girls with demanding jeans in their drawers sprint up the flattened trails. A black silhouette stands at one side of the field, crosses it in pumping violent strides, hop-skip-pivots, comes back.

But the Back 40 can’t be only a training montage. It is a reclining nude for haphazard photographers, a wind-swept moor for gloomy writers, a spiritual thin place, a spiritual wasteland. It is a study break, a scavenger hunt, orientation games, prayer zone, escape, battleground, backlot, hideout.

We’ve worn it out, using it for so many different things. Those pinecones aren’t a gentle flood of shedding seasons, they’re a thousand virgin-catching failures. Sometimes we wonder if the spiritual fabric of the place has been ripped right out the bottom. How many earnest nineteen-year-old prayers can it bear until it cries out to us, “I am only forty acres! There’s major streets on both sides of me. My forest is cut by asphalt roads, and I see more people in a day than does a national park. You want me to bear your break-ups, your psalms, your team-building and your quad-building. You want to worship in me and smoke cigarettes and pipes and other things in me; you want to dig out my roots and make forts with my leftovers. You want to climb my trees, make my dark corners into twisted metaphors, hide from your roommate in me, dig in me to China. I have been molded like Silly Putty into the form of your hand, Whitworth University, but I am only forty acres and I can’t be your refuge and your strength. I am only a dusty handful of trees.”

And what do we say back? We pick up a pinecone, fresh and buoyant, that bounced when it fell, and pick it apart, slowly, scarring our fingertips. We absently braid brown strips of pine needle. We breathe hard and deep up the steepest hill and say in the quiet places, “We know you are dusty trees. Do we not know who you are? We have cried on your shoulder, we have kissed under your shade, we have rolled down your gentle slopes, we have sprinted up your highest mountains. We know we have depleted you, needed you, violated you. We can see it; we see how your hair and your trees grow thin, how every neighborhood around bleeds into your borders. We have done it. But you are molded into the shape of our hand. You rest, silent and dirty, behind the vast hysteria of being nineteen, of college, and we are too young to be so old.

Bridger Landle (’12) Reflects On Whitworth’s Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championship

I grew up in the rustic town of Palouse, WA, where vast amounts of assorted grains, legumes, and fertile minds are grown. (I like to think of it as saving America, one carbohydrate at a time.) Last spring, I graduated from Whitworth with a degree in English (Writing) and Philosophy, as well as a minor in Communication.  I plan on spending the next year traveling and preparing for graduate school, for which I’ll be applying this upcoming fall.  I would like to pursue a PhD in philosophy, and will probably specialize in ethical theory and/or aesthetics.

Bowl Info

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB) is nationwide annual competition in which teams of students are pitted against one another in a series of debates across two major tournaments featuring over 125 public and private institutions. (Think March Madness, but with fewer screaming fans.)  No distinction is made concerning the size, funding, or prestige of individual schools.  That meant that we went up against the big dogs; we were in the same pool as institutions like Dartmouth, Georgetown, Villanova, and Princeton.  Before each bowl, teams are given 10-15 cases to guide their preparation, but the actual questions are not announced until each round formally begins.  So, while there’s an element of improvisation at the Bowls themselves, extensive research and practice are paramount.

The Team

We were coached by Dr. Mike Ingram (professor of communication studies and associate provost for faculty development and scholarship) and Dr. Keith Wyma (associate professor of philosophy).  In addition to being one of the most outstanding public speakers I know, Mike also has over twenty years of experience coaching debate.  He worked with us one-on-one to improve our clarity, diction, and argumentative style, while Keith tended to focus on the integrity of our arguments and research.  Both coaches would team up each practice to tear apart our cases (usually with great glee).  When our arguments were in any way ill-prepared or haphazard, they made sure that we knew it.  Needless to say, we quickly got tired of losing.  Every practice, we came hungry to beat them.  At the beginning of the semester, Mike and Keith were destroying us.  A few weeks in, crushing rebuttals became less frequent.  After a month, we were holding our own.  By the time the National Bowl came around, we were consistently beating them.  And in the end, we tempered our hunger with the confidence that we could face any opponent, and brought that attitude to the Bowl itself.

(Left to Right: Mike Ingram and Keith Wyma.  Not pictured: Keith’s verbal smackdowns.)

The other members of the team were Krister Johnson (’13, Political Science), JaJa Quarless (’12, Philosophy and Political Science), Jesse Javana (’12, Political Science), and Sarah Sauter (’15, Philosophy and Spanish).  Evan Underbrink was also helpful in preparing for, and competing at, the Regional Bowl.  Krister and JaJa each brought a wealth of experience and leadership to the team.  Krister went on to achieve further national success with Whitworth’s debate and speech forensics team, and his aggressive style propelled our team forward.  JaJa was studying abroad during the spring semester and missed the National Bowl, but was nevertheless instrumental in our success at the Regional tournament.  JaJa’s spot was filled by Sarah, whose precocious mind (not to mention her bugging me to do my research) was crucial to our victory.  Max, whom we nicknamed “The Accountant” for seemingly having memorized every statistic in Encyclopedia Britannica, was able to draw from his storehouse of facts on the fly to stop opposing arguments in their tracks.  Finally, Jesse also brought improvisational abilities to the fore.  Combining his experience in public defense with his comedy skills gained from his four years performing with Whitworth’s improvisational troupe Cool Whip, Jesse was quick with a rebuttal that would often contain a hidden song lyric, if not a subtle and witty pun—a style that was so disarming, opponents would forget he had refuted their point in the process.

Notable moments

In preparation for the trip to Cincinnati, I packed along a pea coat. (Why?  Because I wanted to look stylin’, that’s why.) Unfortunately, however, this decision led to all sorts of problems.  First, I wasn’t able to stuff it inside my bag, and removing other clothes to make room for it made us even more late for our plane than we already were. (Spoiler alert: we caught the plane on time.) Second, unbeknownst to me, the Bowl was scheduled at the Hilton—the very hotel in which we were staying—so there was no reason for us to go outside other than to eat or sightsee.  Third, even if we were going to spend time outside, I wouldn’t have needed a pea coat, or any coat at all, because while it was chilly in Spokane, Cincinnati was experiencing a 75 degree heat-wave.  Needless to say, my wonderful teammates and coaches mocked me relentlessly for my unnecessary carry-on.  Eventually, I snapped, told them all to shove it (albeit in terms less appropriate for this blog) and proclaimed that if we made it to the final round, I’d “wear my ******* pea coat” just to spite them all.  Long story short, we did.  And I did.  It was extremely hot, and rather itchy, but dang I looked fly.

In the semi-finals, we faced Wake Forest, an outstanding team and our most challenging opponent overall.  To quote Mike Tyson in the third-person possessive, their style was impetuous, their defense was impregnable, and they were just ferocious.  Jesse and Max, however, stepped up their game and matched every point Wake Forest made.  The round was an hour-long fury of energy.  Finally, however, it was over, and the judges spent several minutes calmly and deliberately preparing their scores.  Finally, they held up the results.  Out of one hundred eighty points possible, we had won by a single point.  One of their team members broke down and cried.  They were a brilliant team, and it was an honor to have competed with them.  I relayed that sentiment to each member as we shook their hands.  Nevertheless, as we moved on to prepare for the final round, and as they walked over to the elevator, Krister overheard them exclaiming “I hope they lose!”

In the final round, we faced Clemson University.  They wore matching orange shirts atop dark trousers.  When they sat down to debate us, however, all we could see were their orange tops.  From our view, they looked like prison inmates.  Coincidentally, the final case was “Prison Break,” which concerned  the recent decision of Mississippi governor Haley Barbour to suspend the sentences of felons Gladys and Jamie Scott, on the condition that Gladys donate a kidney to Jamie.  After the match was over, we shook hands with Clemson, received the trophy, had our pictures taken, and called friends and family to tell them the news.  After it was all over, we walked to the elevator.  Everyone was exhausted, but happy.  As soon as the door closed, however, Mike Ingram suddenly exclaimed “Prison case, baby.  Beat ‘em at their own game!” before doing a little jig and shrieking in excitement.  Forget the trophy; that alone made the trip.

Closing thoughts:

I knew I had received an outstanding education at Whitworth, but I never had an opportunity to see how it might compare to that of other schools.  This was my first real chance to see, empirically, exactly what I had paid for.  Whitworth has placed within the top five schools at the National Bowl three times in the past four years.  Furthermore, several members of standout teams over the last few years have been English majors.  I do not believe this was a coincidence. Whitworth English department is filled with professors who are committed to producing strong, smart, and capable students.  Several of these professors, including Thom Caraway, Vic Bobb, and Fred Johnson, were exceptionally helpful in providing direct assistance on particular cases.  All of these professors, however, were indirectly involved through the time, energy, and skill that they brought to the classroom, and by being incorrigibly devoted to producing not just better debaters, or better students—but better people.  That goes for all departments, and all people involved.  Any courage or tenacity we showed was tempered by the professors, family, and friends we had around us.  It’s unsurprising to me, then, that my most vivid memory of the Bowl is that of being a part of something much, much larger than myself.

(Left to right: Sarah, Krister, Mike, Max, Jesse, myself.  Not pictured: Keith Wyma.)

Internship Spotlight: Jacquelyn Wheeler (’12) Coordinates Browne’s Addition 2012 Concert Series

EL major Jacquelyn Wheeler (’12) recently graduated from Whitworth. Jacquie’s many accomplishments include her role as editor of Script, Whitworth’s student-run literary journal, and the EL department’s Writing Track award for a graduating senior. Jacquie lives in Browne’s Addition, Spokane’s hippest neighborhood (in my unbiased opinion). This summer she’s coordinating the Browne’s Addition Concert Series. Jacquie submitted the photos, including the ones below of local band Six Foot Swing and of a happy audience at one of last year’s shows in Browne’s.

Jacquie on Jacquie:

I’ve been studying literature and writing. My primary interest moving forward is writing, editing, design, and oil painting. I grew up living just outside of Portland, Oregon. I’ve kept a blog for about four years now: thoughtsprayerspraises.wordpress.com (though it hasn’t been updated since fall, something about senior year, but I’ll get back to it soon).

Jacquie on Her Internship with the Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council

I first got involved with the Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council because I had just moved to the neighborhood for the sake of preaching the gospel alongside my church community that lived there. Part of loving a place with the love of Christ involves knowing its needs and striving to serve in that capacity. BANC needed a Concert Series Coordinator, and at least three different people approached me, saying that I would be great for the job. I accepted the position at the Christmas party in December, and I’ve been working since January to raise support, organize fundraisers, keep track of the budget, publicize, book talent, secure insurance and permits, design and print programs and posters, and coordinate volunteers for a series of nine concerts that take place every Thursday evening in July and August.
I doubt I would have had the confidence to take on a project so much bigger than me if it weren’t for the support of my church family. Another group in the neighborhood is in charge of the big fundraiser event, my roommate is taking on the challenge of getting sponsors, and my pastor is coordinating volunteers from the church. Another council member is a yoga teacher in the neighborhood, and she’s offered to teach classes on Monday afternoons with a donation for the series. They pay me a stipend of $1200, which I am trying to figure out how to invest back into the neighborhood, because I would do this job for free.

Jacquie on the Importance of Internships:

Talk to professors with connections in your area of interest, and be involved in the community outside Whitworth (where those opportunities are). I have had this job and one other internship during my time at Whitworth. The first was a job as an editorial assistant at Gray Dog Press, which I learned about because I asked for Spokane publishing connections from Thom Caraway, who then introduced me to Marcus, the GDP senior editor. I found this concert coordinator job due to my prior community involvement. I can’t advocate enough for the importance of dipping your toe in the practical-application side of a field. It gives you a taste of what you’ll be dealing with when you leave college life, helps you know how to market yourself in that field (and others) because you know firsthand what it demands, and allows you to give back to the community.

Nelsonic Philsophy: Special Edition for the 5/11 Senior Reading

You may remember Isabel Nelson (’12, and not pictured above) as the winner of the 2012 Shut Up & Cut Up Found Poetry Contest. But did you also know that she’s an advice columnist? And the coordinator of the 2012 Senior Reading (Friday, May 11, 6 p.m., Music Recital Hall)?

Here’s Isabel’s counsel for the big event:

Good afternoon, all. Almost done with finals week, are you? I see you’ve relinquished real pants in favor of those giant “finals pants” but that you’re still ahead of the point where you want to see how many people you can fit in them—it’s a good omen. The final pitfall, before you decide to pickle yourself in bottom shelf vodka, will be to navigate senior readings.

            Step one: Put on some clothes. Nope, take those off. People’s grandmothers are going to be there, what is wrong with you? Yeah, those are better, I guess. Maybe not the leather jacket, though.

            Step two: Look in the mirror and say to yourself “I can totally read my work to a room full of strangers and their Gam-gams.” Fluff your hair, adjust your clothing. “I can totally read my work to these people, because I’m never going to see them again.” Brush your teeth. Try again: “I can go sit in the Music Recital Hall and listen to some sensitive poets talk about birds for an hour. After all, there might be snacks!”

            Step three: Put on your shoes, you lazy grub. The reading is at 6 and it’s 6:02.

            Step four: Brace yourself: there might not be snacks.


Majors Abroad: Andrea Idso Puts the Zeal in New Zealand

Andrea Idso (that’s “eyed-so”), ’12, hails from “The Claw” and is a double major in English and Communication Studies. Last year, she studied in Palmerston North, New Zealand with her traveling buddy Oliver (pictured on shoulder). You can read about her adventures in Kiwiland at www.nzandrea.wordpress.com. She is very excited to experience summer for the first time since 2010.

Andrea submitted the photos below: Franz Josef Glacier, Cathedral Cove (think second Narnia movie), and a secret hot springs she and her friends found after solving a riddle in a guidebook. Perfection.

Whitworth English Blog: Did you pick New Zealand or did New Zealand pick you?
Andrea Idso: I’d actually had my heart set on Scandinavia. If you’ve talked to me for 10 minutes you know about my love for Norway, but ISEP didn’t offer a program there. So I began looking at Sweden, thinking I could hop over to visit my Norwegian cousins over Christmas, but the Swedish school didn’t have the classes I needed. Because of my connections in Norway, I decided I’d make the effort to go back another time, so I began looking elsewhere.

Being quintessentially American (that is, monolingual), I wanted to attend a school where English would be spoken. I’d spent a couple of days in New Zealand in 2007 but that trip got cut short. During my brief time there, though, I fell in love with the beauty of the country and found the people to be friendly. When I saw ISEP had a school there, it quickly rose to the top of my choices. I wanted a more in-depth, less touristy experience of the country.

WEB: What was the biggest surprise about living there?
AI: I couldn’t go a day without running into an American or some sort of American media. It made me realize just how pervasive our culture is. Although it seemed to bother me more than the Kiwis, I was a little embarrassed that America throws its TV shows, film, music, and news onto other countries when they already have a unique, fascinating culture of their own.

WEB:  What was the greatest challenge?
AI: Initially, I’d say the greatest challenge was training myself not to see cultural differences through an ethnocentric lens – learning to think, “That’s different” instead of, “That’s weird.” I made an effort to adopt the colloquialisms and the differences in spelling and grammar; to try the food; and to get to know more about their history. The result was outstanding. If you spend enough time in another culture (and even nine months felt too short), your definition of normalcy changes. Instead of simply thinking of myself as an American tourist who spent time in New Zealand, I feel like I’ve got a foot in both countries.

WEB:  How has this study abroad experience affected your writing?
AI: When I returned I had to retrain myself to stop writing “favourite” and “uni” and “flatting” (though I still write like that when talking to my Kiwi friends on Facebook).

WEB:What advice would you give to students who are considering studying abroad?

AI: 1)    Now is the time! I’m serious. Do it now before you’re settled down with a career/family/other “adult” responsibilities. You’ll probably come back poor, but it will still be worth it.

2)    Go for as long as you can. I went for nine months (and definitely felt the equivalent of buyer’s remorse on the flight over – “Why did I choose to come for so long?!”), and now all those months feel like an extended dream. Unless you absolutely can’t make it work, go for two semesters. One is not enough.

3)    Make friends with the locals. There’s nothing wrong with making friends with the other internationals, but it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into that group and not branch out. Strike up a conversation with at least one local student in each of your classes. They also make the best travel buddies because they know where to go and what tourist traps to avoid. They also tend to own cars/camping equipment/other things you can save money by borrowing (shout out to Suzie!).

4)    On that note, take every opportunity you can to travel. At my school, and many others, it was easy to create schedule with three-day weekends. Our mid-semester breaks were two weeks long. These times were ideal for traveling, and even though you’ll probably learn a great deal in class, your traveling experiences are what you will remember.

Internship Spotlight: Alyssa Explains It All (About Working for Gray Dog Press)

EL double major Alyssa Parkinson (’12) recently spoke with Whitworth English Blog about her rad internship.

Whitworth English Blog: Alyssa, tell us about yourself.

Alyssa Parkinson: I’m from Santa Clarita, CA, where the mountains are made of course giant hair and need to be brushed once a week or else disastrous wildfires occur. I just finished directing and acting in Almost, Maine, the culmination of my BA in Theatre. I am in charge of the Velociraptor Revolution and am currently accepting applications. Check out my blog:http://velociraptorapocalypse.blogspot.com/ or email me for more information at: aparkinson12@my.whitworth.edu

Vive le dinosaure.

WEB: OK, great. Sign me up. Also, please describe your internship. What are your duties?

AP: I am the intern at Gray Dog Press, a small independent publishing company in Spokane. I am in charge of marketing for three authors, which entails emailing fifty people a day asking them for reviews or interviews of books, getting in touch with distribution companies and television and radio, and research, research, research.

I also design flyers for books and help with the design elements of books in the process of publishing. I copyedited my first entire book and I am currently copyediting a second book for the company. I recently designed a little logo that will be seen throughout the most recent book in process, which was surprisingly exciting. I try not to get too excited, though, because as our final edits draw near, it could be taken out.

WEB: What do you like most about your internship? 

AP: Gray Dog Press is unique because it doesn’t treat interns like interns. I’m left on my own a lot to learn and try to make things happen. I feel like after this, and my crazy years lifegaurding and mixing acid for the pool, I can handle literally anything. It helped that I had extensive knowledge of InDesign and PhotoShop.

WEB: Right on. What have been the biggest challenges? 

AP: The biggest challenge has been keeping optimistic. Research can get lonely and it can feel like there are few rewards.

WEB: How did you hear about this internship? 

AP: An email was sent from the English Department—thanks! And Jaquelyn Wheeler gave me a run down on what I could expect as she had done an internship with Gray Dog last summer. But don’t wait for emails—there are hundreds of companies out there seeking applicants with information available on their sites.

WEB: What advice would you give to students who are considering internships?

AP: You HAVE to get out there and try what you think is your “ideal”  job. I worked as an assistant make-up artist to a professional make-up artist based in LA last summer. I thought make-up was my dream job, but I realized that it was not something I was inspired by or invested enough to do long enough to actually break into the make-up world.

Try things out so you can rule things out, and so you can learn things. After this internship, I feel like I could go into marketing, become an agent for an author—anything. In college is the time to experiment because you have a huge support group to fall back on. Internships prepare you for what you think you would never be able to do, or show you the truth of what you once believed would be your perfect job.

Majors Abroad: Katie Palmer’s Postcard From Milan

Katie Palmer, second from left, is a junior English major from Snohomish, WA. She spent a month in London on a Jan-term trip and is now studying in Milan for four months. Learn more about her adventures abroad at http:www.londontomilan.blogspot.com
Katie provided these photos of the Duomo (“perfect example of Gothic architecture,” she writes) and of a fashion show she attended during Milan’s fashion week.
Hello dear Whitworth English department!
I have been studying in Milan, Italy for three months now and I have fully come to understand why the “Eat” portion of Eat, Pray, Love took place in Italy. It’s pasta, pizza, and gelato every day, and somehow it never gets old. Aside from eating, I’ve been traveling a lot. So far I’ve touched down in London, Paris, Berlin, and Venice, and have an upcoming trip to Stockholm in the works.
English-wise, I’m taking a class on Dante and Machiavelli which is interesting, but oh so easy compared to Whitworth English classes. I’m missing the challenge of Whitworth. But then again, I have gelato.
I hope all is well in Westminster!
See you this fall,
Katie Palmer