As a student studying psychology and neuroscience, the closest I’ve been to a poem in the past four years was a sad attempt at a creative way to remember the cell cycle. That being said, you can imagine my terror when I learned that in EN455, we would each be writing twenty of our own original poems. My impression of poetry was that everything needed to be perfect. All poems had to evoke the same feelings for everyone. Essentially, people should know that what you’ve written is a poem because all poems sound alike, right? Wrong. The first few poems we wrote were done before our time at Shortridge. It took me hours to write just a few unsubstantial lines. Needless to say, both were not what I imagined a good poem to be. I chalked it up to inexperience and lack of talent though and moved on.
My first day working with the students, I helped Jammonica and Eric. I sat down, showed them the prompt and tried to explain it in the only way I knew how, sticking to the steps on the page. I imagined there might be questions on formatting or what to write about, but both students immediately started. I watched in amazement as line after line developed in their notebooks. When they stopped writing, I looked at both of their poems. They were in no way similar, but each brought out feelings that the writers wanted to evoke. Each had their own style. The best part about it was that both Jammonica and Eric were completely confident in what they’d written. That confidence is what has pushed me forward in my own writing.
One of my favorite parts about working at Shortridge is that every single person writes differently. We take the same prompt and make it our own. Sometimes the students go off and do something completely different but just as cool because they love it. One of my favorite days was working with Ari, Desi, and Ricky. Instead of writing a poem, they rewrote lyrics to popular songs and sang during the Exclusive Ink open mic. I loved watching the collaboration, as Ricky and Ari would think of the lines, and Desi would sing them so they could decide if they liked it. Each time I work with the students, I learn something new, whether it be about their lives, their poetry, or even my own work. I can now say that I don’t dread writing our original poems and have even enjoyed having this new creative outlet.
Kate Goldsmith is a senior Psychology and Neuroscience double major.