Have you seen any progress in your work compared to your freshman year?
I’ve definitely seen a lot of progress in my own work since freshman year. I think back then I was really invested in seeming cool and seeming like my work was at its best. So I would usually submit poems that I thought were really good and didn’t need any work. Of course, they were really bad (in my opinion). I feel like part of becoming a good writer is tearing down the ego to make space for progress. My work then was mostly about voice—about creating an image and about educating my audience on a perspective I thought was most accurate. But what my work is now, is an admittance that I don’t know much, that I’m still learning the best way to communicate my message, and that my message may or may not be discarded by my readers—and that is their choice…whether they want to try and understand me or not…my work will continue to grow.
What are some things you still need to work on?
Well, there’s a lot of things I need to work on. There’s for one the ‘soft’ voice I seem to have in my poems which resembles the way I move about my life. I like to move about life softly—I almost wish I was invisible sometimes. But this softness doesn’t always resemble what I feel inside. And I think it’s important to do justice to the dark part of ourselves that goes continuously ignored. I try to do this often by incorporating philosophy and ideas about humanity, but they are still not resonating well enough because the ideas are overshadowed by syntax and other techniques. I think this focus on dark language is something I need to work on to be able to disturb my readers the way I hope to someday.
That, along with longer poems that tell a story—all the while developing a very casual kind of voice that is both indifferent, wise, and “cool” are some of my goals.
What are some things you have learned in workshops?
Workshops have instilled in me a lifelong tolerance of criticism. I am definitely a very sensitive person. But workshops created a safe space for me to understand where criticism comes from—a lot of the time it comes from a place of love rather than judgment. Whenever I criticize someone’s poem in workshop heavily, I feel it is only because I love the poem so much that I want it to grow into what it wants to be. My critiques demonstrate more investment. When I only give compliments, or don’t comment at all, it means I didn’t spend as much time thinking about a poem on real terms. Of course, workshops also taught me that some criticisms come from a place of discomfort as opposed to understanding—but that we have to learn to differentiate between the critiques that matter and those that don’t. No matter what is said in a workshop, the poet is the only one who has authority over their poem and only they know what they are trying to accomplish.
Are you different than when you came in to Geneseo?
I want to say that I am different. I came into Geneseo with many goals. And I have to say that I’ve accomplished most of those goals. The journey from then to now has been full of obstacles and lessons. I feel I can function on higher levels now, what seemed stressful to freshman me, is welcomed by senior me as hard work and a productive day. Staying in and doing nothing feels wrong—and I appreciate that Geneseo has created that feeling in me, because I trust now that when I go out into the world, I will be doing things every day and working towards a goal. I had a lot of independence and freedom as a Creative Writing major and it is because of that freedom that I know I will be alright in the ‘real’ world. I don’t feel intimidated by the future, because I know it will be as unpredictable as my college career has been. And I definitely feel ready to start life outside of college. I think we all reach a point where we just know that we’ve done everything we’re going to do in an undergraduate program.
What does writing look like for you in the future?
To me, writing looks no different than it does today. I will write when an idea comes to me, I will keep an archive of those writings, and I will send off poems and stories I love to be published. I will always continue to write—no matter where I am or what I’m doing, and it’s not necessarily to make an impact or to be read but just for myself and my own growth. I hope to publish a book of poems someday and I will always be involved in the writing community closest to me. Maybe I’ll pursue an MFA, maybe I won’t. Either way, writing will continue to open doors for me, as it has already, for the rest of my life. I owe the act of writing a lot of my success. I will always love to write, I don’t think that will change. And just as I have been a writer and a student at once, I will be a writer and (insert profession here). Hopefully a mentor of sorts and an advocate of the craft for everyone I meet as well.