Re-Visiting ENGL 301

It’s amazing how much can change in a year. I’m back in ENGL 301, at the same time as last year, and I am comforted by the familiar. I was in the workshop that was the test for the writing pods structure, which admittedly was difficult to decipher the first time around. Now I look at that document and it is easy to decipher, to know exactly what I am responsible for. Back in Welles 119, with the same circle of desks, with the knocking on the desks to signal agreement, with some returning folks and some old friends, feels like coming home.

However, there are some changes in the structure of ENGL 301. The syllabus doesn’t look like a word for word copy of last years. There are some poets in the classroom that I don’t know yet, and I am excited to read their work and converse with them about it. This class also takes place on a Monday, which carries a different feeling than a Wednesday. There are some changes, but nothing which I can’t overcome.

I’ve changed as well. During ENGL 301 last year, I went through upheaval in my family life, my academic life, and my own philosophical inclinations. I read my old portfolio Strike and I recall, for a moment, the woman before these events, who was still working out what mark she wants to make as a poet. This feeling is more apparent in earlier drafts!

In my first post on this blog, I wrote about my travels in Greece, and how much of an impact it made on me, as well as questioning my own ideas about the creative process. I had the opportunity to travel as well this summer, an opportunity that I didn’t expect to happen. I expected to be staying at home, earning money, getting my driver’s license (which I did!) and otherwise not traveling this summer. This opportunity was booked at the last minute, and I traveled to Rome, Venice, Split, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Chania, Olympia, Ephesus/Kusadasi, Valletta, Gozo, Palermo, and Naples/Sorrento on a cruise ship with my immediate and extended family. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The place I had been before was Olympia, which I recommended to my family after my Greece trip the summer before.

There were some differences in the trip: the tour guide remarked upon different things, the weather was slightly cooler, there were more people there than I knew the last time. But walking around the site brought back so many memories of my Greece experience. I felt inclined to share my memories and my excitement with the rest of my family, but my mom said that the rest of my family should have the opportunity to make their own memories. I figured since I had so many pictures from the last time I came, I didn’t need to take more. I only took one picture that I took before, which was the track that the original Olympic athletes competed on. After seeing so many ruins before, the idea of a track was something welcoming to see.

In this course, I still want to take pictures. I have no intention of resting on my laurels, my past knowledge, and my past writing patterns. If I were to manifest some outcomes this semester, I would say that I have three of these outcomes (and I’m posting them here to hold myself accountable!) I aim to be more vulnerable in my poetry, and to explore devices such as motifs and metaphors within a narrative instead of the pure free-association and the constant objectiveness that has defined my poetry in the past. I also aim, much like I did in Dr. McCoy’s African-American Literature class this past spring, to actively listen and embrace the role of the outsider, or the advocate, both of whom seek recognition despite the world telling them that they are a disruption and a threat to the “natural” linear progression. My last aim is to write more. I’ve restarted journalling again, and I hope that this will help my fulfill both of my previous aims this semester!

A brief (re)-introduction: I’m Sarah Holsberg, a junior Early Childhood Education and Creative Writing double major from New York City, and I am excited to return and create poetry this fall!

One Reply to “Re-Visiting ENGL 301”

  1. First, welcome back! I do hope you’ll find this class a change rather than a repeat, and I know you’ll be part of what makes it a change. Already in this post you’re translating locations and experience for us; I think there’s a rich poem to be written about not taking pictures on returning to Greece, about being somewhere again but it being different still.

    What’s most sticking with me here, though, is the way that you write about disruption and progression, and that makes me question whether disruption perhaps IS progression or at least one means to it. We don’t always think in such terms – we might privilege the poem that smoothly follows sentence syntax to its end – but I’m curious if, building on STRIKE, you can advocate and disrupt in order to progress…

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