Artist Spotlight: Dana Stull speaks for the voiceless

“My first serious writing project was a comic strip in third grade about my hamster, Speedo. I’ve always liked writing little stories and things,” junior Dana Stull said. Although she has moved away from comics, Stull still writes. She is the assistant poetry editor of Rock & Sling, Whitworth’s national literary journal and majors in English on the writing track. Her chapbook—a small collection of poetry, often with fewer than 40 pages— “the girl who says nothing,” won Whitworth’s chapbook competition this year and will be published in a limited run.

It was after a creative writing class her freshman year that Stull found herself drawn to writing as a serious discipline. Stull then began working with Rock & Sling, which she credits with teaching her how to write and discuss poetry.

“[There], it mattered that you looked carefully at things and considered what was happening and [put] personal preference aside," Stull said. "That’s when, I think, it shifted from like, ‘reading poetry is kind of fun and neat’ and ‘I took a poetry class in high school’ to it being a serious field of study.”

There have been opportunities at Whitworth that she may not have encountered at other schools, Stull said. She comments that it is special to be in a town with a thriving literary scene where people are creating a community of writers. She has worked with professors here, especially Thom Caraway and John Pell, who have inspired her and shaped her understanding of what it means to be a poet.

“They’re all great … I would say especially Thom … and I think John Pell too [because] I think developing a rhetorical foundation is actually really important when you’re looking at and writing poetry, and critically that has helped and influenced me,” Stull said.

Stull is invested in what poetry writing means, noting common misconceptions that students often have about the craft. She says that the study of poetry is more intellectually rigorous and applicable to other areas of study than people may generally believe.

“I think in general … poetry just has this weird aura. [The perception is] you can’t talk about poetry because it’s just the way that people feel … [but] just looking at all of the things you should be learning about writing in college, like, the argument [and] the audience you’re writing to … you learn all of those things in a poetry class, and I think that’s useful,” Stull said.

Stull says that she does not necessarily have a preference for a genre of writing or any particular subject that she draws inspiration from.

“I just like writing things,” Stull said. “I think there are things I end up writing about more than things I like writing about.”

In “the girl who says nothing,” Stull focuses on her experience working in a childcare program with a 6-year-old girl who was selectively mute. After the program lost funding and closed, ending Stull’s relationship with the girl, Stull began to write about her observations.

Stull has not decided on her definite plans post-graduation, but hopes to incorporate writing and editing into her future work.

“I think I would really like doing the things I am doing now," Stull said. "I really enjoy the editorial process.”

Stull’s chapbook will be published in a short run this semester, but selected poems from the work can be read below.

____________________________________

the girl who says nothing

needs to sit at the table

with everybody loud and stacking

cheese squares that are for snack

that need to be eaten or

at least given a no-thank-you

bite or no leaving the table no

moving on to blocks, if

Fuzzy eats it does not count

because he is pretend

and does not have a real throat

 

The girl who says nothing

cannot hit the ground with her fist,

because

it can mean all different things

it is not the way we use our hands

our hands are not our words

 

incident report #3

child & Fluffy brought cardboard fort and reading lamp into bathroom & plugged lamp in & went (w/ lamp) into fort & told to keep the fort & lamp in the classroom & made a choice to not listen & locked the door & the assistant teacher says she listened for a while & heard voices coming from the inside & we want a safe space for her to talk but not here & not alone

 

Kelli Hennessey

Staff Writer

 

 

Whitworth students host public reading

Words leapt from pages last Friday night as English students and faculty read poetry and prose at Boots Bakery & Lounge. The off-campus reading event hosted by Westminster Round is in its second year and attracted a large crowd that sat on chairs, benches, booths and the floor.

The reading began with senior Kyler Lacey and showcased close to twenty students and professors.

The off-campus reading is a way for Westminster Round to put on a more serious, formal event than Bad Love Poetry or Poetry & Pie, Westminster Round President Katie Cunningham said.

With English department faculty members Nicole Sheets, Fred Johnson and Thom Caraway reading, students were encouraged to put their best work forward.

“It’s kind of a nice, more adult type of reading, but it’s also not super serious,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham, whose responsibilities include sifting through emails, running Westminster Round meetings on Thursday mornings and attending both ASWU and English department meetings, thinks the club is good at connecting the department, students and Whitworth community.

Reading pieces aloud can be nerve-wracking to many students, but the off-campus reading provided a safe environment to get over this fear and become comfortable with performing what they have written.

Sheets admitted that she still gets nervous before she reads, even though she performs her work regularly and reads aloud when she revises pieces. To her, the nervousness is not purely a bad thing.

“It’s constructive to see when people laugh, and how the pauses sound in a piece,” Sheets said.

Sheets, who usually reads excerpts from longer essays, was also inspired by the variety of work performed at the reading. It’s a misconception that you can only read poetry at a reading, Sheets said.

Students performed a wide variety of original work at the reading. One creative performer was senior Josh Tuttle, who presented a how-to guide-esque description of how to go about entering a graveyard in the middle of the night.

The off-campus reading was freshman Lauren Klepinger’s first chance to read her work in a formal setting.

Most of the time, Klepinger prefers to write prose, but at the reading she performed two poems. Her prose narratives require more planning, and poetry is less planned, Klepinger said.

“I’m somewhat inspired because there are people here who are better than me, but I...can learn from them,” Klepinger said, about reading with other students and successful professors such as Sheets, Johnson and Caraway.

“I feel like I know them well even though there’s this whole ‘I would be afraid of them if I had read their bio before I had a class with them’ type of thing,” Cunningham said.

Through events like the various readings put on throughout the year, Westminster Round hopes to foster a community of fun in the English department and across campus. It also aims to show people that English teaches valuable practical skills, such as analysis, oral and written communication and persistence.

“[Westminster Round] makes the English department not merely just an academic department but kind of a social department—a department where you make a lot of friends and you feel really comfortable,” Cunningham said.

If you are interested in being involved in Westminster Round or learning more about their events, you can attend their meetings Thursdays at 8 a.m. at Le Petit Chat.

Courtney Murphy

Staff Writer

Jess Waltar takes up residence

“Building a body of work is exactly what a writer does, and published is the best kind,” Jess Walter, Whitworth’s writer-in-residence said. Walter gave a reading on March 31 in the Music Building Recital Hall and talked about how he found success as an author. The reading was filled with students, English department faculty and many members of Spokane’s literary community. Walter’s writing is “broad in scope and mind,” professor Thom Caraway said. He uses his platform to touch on themes such as empathy and brokenness.

At the event, Walter read a short story that is currently unpublished which he wrote last year for Auntie’s Bookstore’s annual community reading event, Pie and Whiskey. Either of the two words “pie” or “whiskey” must be referenced in the work for it to be eligible for the event.

The short story, “Whiskey Pie”, chronicles the reactions of four adult siblings as they come to terms with their parent’s recent divorce. Interspersed with heavy doses of humor, profanity and complex themes such as forgiveness and healing, “Whiskey Pie” was well-received by the audience.

In the question-and-answer session after the reading, Walter encouraged aspiring writers to write as much as possible and build up a body of work before they search for publishing opportunities. About 70 percent of his writing is not published, Walter said, while emphasizing the importance of finding time to write every day.

He also encouraged the audience to read as much as possible, and from a variety of genres.

“Look for things you admire in a work, and then emulate/steal them,” Walter said.

During the Q&A, several people commented on Walter’s vivid and unique descriptions in his writing, and asked where he got his inspiration. In response, Walter spoke about how he uses vivid figurative language to slow down or speed up a section of writing, based on its context.

Allow yourself to go into big, broad descriptions when you want to slow down the writing, Walter said.

“If I see something I think is a great, vivid description, I write it down,” Walter said.

Walter also told the audience that as a writer, his political and social views are not always the same of the views of the speaker in his work, but he sometimes makes a “comic over-statement of some twinge [he] might feel.”

Junior Chris MacMurray attended the event because he was familiar with Walter’s work after reading his short story collection, We Live in Water, in his writing workshop.

“A lot of his stories have to do with brokenness and broken people…[but] I think that he, himself, as a person separates his voice from the speaker in his stories,” MacMurray said.

Walter visited MacMurray’s advanced writing workshop class, along with several other classes, and spoke about how to start a piece and where his inspiration comes from.

“He talked a lot about how most pieces, for him, start with the voice of the piece. Once you can find the voice of the piece, then you can find the different characters, or the themes that are going to go into the story, and you can progress on from there,” MacMurray said.

After hearing Walter speak in his class and at the reading event, MacMurray, a poet, is interested in experimenting with fiction writing.

“Fiction has always been intimidating for me, because it’s totally an interaction with your imagination, which I haven’t really explored a whole lot, but he’s made me want to do some research with that,” MacMurray said.

Having Walter, a proud Spokane native, as Whitworth’s writer-in-residence has been a positive experience not just for MacMurray but for other students, faculty and community members as well. By attending classes and participating in 125th anniversary events, he has inspired many aspiring writers throughout the Whitworth community.

Courtney Murphy

Staff Writer

Artist Spotlight: Kyler Lacey re-creates treasures

Senior English major Kyler Lacey finds beauty in what others seek to throw away. He is passionate about writing, and the art of antique restoration and the many challenges and wonders that arise from that process. Lacey restores antique, collectable and vintage items as an art form, taking items that are “dirty, greasy and damaged” and making them “restored, shiny, polished and beautiful,” Lacey said.

“I’m interested in antiques and old things because there’s something special about them and their history,” Lacey said.

Lacey’s fascination with restoring old items as an art form comes from his first typewriter purchase: a vintage 1971 Smith-Corona Galaxie Twelve.

He bought the typewriter to use for his writing and still uses it to type important projects. He likes using a typewriter instead of a computer because he can’t spell check, delete words or move content. It’s a more thorough process because he has to think harder and be more intentional with what he writes, Lacey said.

Lacey restores, re-imagines and sells old typewriters, televisions, radios and other items. He redoes the paint, interior, exterior and any electric wiring by himself. He enjoys modernizing the things he works on to make them compatible with modern technologies and atmospheres.

“I love finding it: going into a packed garage, climbing over things and finding that one treasure,” Lacey said.

Once he finds an item, he researches it, learns about it and then fixes it. He said that a big part of fixing it is that he gets to use it.

“There’s people who say what I’m doing is work, not art. It’s different than what most people would consider as art,” Lacey said.

One way that Lacey’s restoration distinguishes itself as an art form and not just work is that he isn’t in it for the money; he enjoys the process of taking something broken and making it whole again. Since his focus is on his artistry and not about making lots of money, he charges very little over the cost of what he pays for the items he sells, just enough to buy supplies for his next project.

Lacey’s love of writing stems from when he was seven years old. He was unsatisfied with the lack of a third Toy Story so he decided to write one himself. The plot revolved around Andy and his mom and sister flying somewhere with Buzz Light Year and Woody, opening up a window in the plane, and having the toys fall out into the middle of nowhere to be taken home by a family there.

His love of writing and passion for restoration come together in his inspiration. When Lacey finds an antique, he is often inspired by its past. He writes historical fiction based on items he’s found, placing his characters and his writing back in a different time in the past.

Lacey said that one of the most special things about antiques is that even after 100 years they can still be made to work in some way that brings joy to the people who get to use them. He said that he wonders if the products produced today will work in 100 years.

Emily Goodell

Staff Writer

Slam poet aids students

All people have natural storytelling skills as human beings, professional spoken word artist Kane Smego said. On Friday, March 14, Smego taught a free slam poetry workshop and performed with students at Unplugged in the Mind and Hearth. Smego tried to avoid poetry throughout his adolescent years, but became involved in spoken word at age 19 after being invited to an International Poetry Slam by a former high school teacher.

“Poetry is seen as a thing that only exists in books...and is hard to understand,” Smego said.

Through his workshops, Smego erases that misconception and encourages people to tell their stories through words.

Students participating in the workshop were asked to choose an important moment of their lives and write vividly about it in exactly 30 words. Many found that difficult, but afterward Smego asked the students to cut their poems down to 20 words, followed by 10 words and finally six. Through this exercise, students learned that poems can sometimes be most effective when they are concise and the words are carefully chosen.

Junior Sarah Cruz found the exercise to be one of the most valuable parts of the event.

“[The workshop] showed me that poems can become more powerful the less you’ve said,” Cruz said.

Students were then asked to craft poems in the style of spoken word artist G Yamazawa’s piece “10 Things You Should Know About Being an Asian in the South.” Freshman Annika Bratton performed the “10 Things” poem she wrote during the workshop at Unplugged later that night.

Later that evening in the Mind & Hearth, Smego shared several powerful poems chronicling his life with a difficult father, his love for his mother and how the media uses people to market products.

During the performance, Smego also performed several haikus and a humorous poem about time travel. Cruz, sophomore Nicholas Fuller and freshman Hannah Howell performed poems they had written before the workshop and received overwhelmingly positive reactions from the crowd.

“This was my first poetry slam and I was really impressed,” sophomore Annette Peppel said after the performance.

“I’ve recently gained interest in poetry, and this brought me in deeper to the poetry culture,” Cruz said about her performance.

Many of Cruz’s poems discuss hardships she has gone through.

As a professional spoken word artist, Smego sometimes finds it hard to create new material because of his frequent performances. To stay inspired, Smego tries to jot down a line or concept whenever one crosses his mind, and to be prepared for any moment of inspiration.

Sometimes a writer must sit down and break through that dam of writer’s block, Smego said.

Smego encourages students to pursue spoken word, and hopes to aid them by teaching workshops and traveling to schools, as well as prisons and juvenile detention centers, where his workshops teach leadership roles as well as poetry and hip hop.  He believes that if people love what they do, and they are passionate about it and do it very well, they can make their lives out of it.

“If you take two steps forward, God will lead you the rest of the way,” Smego said.

Courtney Murphy

Staff Writer

Writer-in-residence focuses on local stories

Although many do, writers do not need to live in big cities such as New York or San Francisco to be successful. On Thursday, Feb. 24, local author and Whitworth Writer-in-Residence Jess Walter answered questions about his literary beginnings, writing process and childhood in Spokane. As Writer-in-Residence, Walter held several free literary events on campus. The event filled the Robinson Teaching Theatre with English majors, community members and fans of Walter’s work. Each of Walter’s books have been a “radical departure from the last one,” said senior lecturer Thom Caraway, who was facilitating the conversation with Walter.

Walter has written everything from nonfiction to novels to short stories.

Instead of enrolling in a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) program like many writers do, Walter started his writing career as a journalist for The Spokesman-Review.

“I took the service entrance into literature,” Walter said.

Walter spent much of his time as a journalist reporting on crime stories, and looking for a story big enough to write a book about, Walter said. During this time, he wrote and attempted to publish many short stories, but was often rejected by the institutions he sent them to.

After years as a journalist, Walter found inspiration that manifested itself in “Ruby Ridge,” a nonfiction crime novel documenting a confrontation between the Weaver family of northern Idaho and the federal government.

The early manuscript of “Ruby Ridge” was rejected multiple times before Walter was contacted by a publisher offering him $30,000 to finish the novel. He agreed to write it without hiring an agent, Walter said.

Following his publishing debut, Walter had several jobs ghostwriting nonfiction crime novels, including one documenting the O.J. Simpson murder trial. However, Walter soon entered the world of fiction novels in 2001 with Over Tumbled Graves.

“I’m usually writing to get the taste of the last thing out of my mouth,” Walter said, about his tendency to genre-hop.

During the interview, Caraway asked about Walter’s decision to stay in Spokane as a writer, when many people choose to leave, and his continual inclusion of Spokane in his writing.

“There’s an entire narrative about Spokane that runs through [my] work,” Walter said.

Several stories are set in Spokane; in others characters travel to Spokane and in others it is mentioned.

Although he used to feel ambivalent toward the Spokane area in general, he now feels a “fierce love” toward the city, and that is at the beginning of a cultural boom, Walter said.

“There’s just this great energy downtown,” Walter said. Art is returning to the city in several ways, including the Spokane International Film Festival, various art gallery spaces and on a more humorous level, non-ironic diners.

Walter believes that there is no “us and them” dichotomy between good and bad people. Because of this, his protagonists are flawed and not always likable, yet relatable. He is interested in the gradation of ethics and morals, and the idea that people imagine they are more different from others than they really are, Walter said.

Students and community members found Walter’s discussion thought-provoking, and many asked perceptive questions during the Q&A session.

“I really liked how open he was about sharing his process of writing, he was down to earth and funny,” said Elizabeth Merriam, a junior English major who attended the lecture.

Walter’s newest novel, “Beautiful Ruins,” was published in 2012 and won many awards, including  New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His books are available at most bookstores around the area.

 

Courtney Murphy

Staff Writer

Poetry and Pie sweetens a Friday night

If there is one thing that makes people come together universally, it is pie. But pie is only one of the attention grabbers for Poetry & Pie, an event hosted by Westminster Round, the English Club.

The event allows for students, alumni and faculty to come together and share poetry that they have created with an audience, while enjoying free pie. The event took place in the Mind and Hearth and drew a crowd that filled in the area and milled around  the coffee shop.

“One thing that is important about Poetry and Pie is that it allows us to bring our love of literature to the greater community. It is not just English majors, but everyone can come and share and listen to the poetry,” junior and Westminster Round president Luke Eldredge said.

“The feeling of the crowd laughing when I wanted them to when I read my first piece was exhilarating and it certainly helped boost my confidence as a writer and performer of the written word,” senior reader Kyler Lacey said.

Many of the poetry performers were students, but there were a few exceptions. Cathy Bobb, the wife of English professor Vic Bobb, also shared poetry, as did a few Whitworth alumni. English professor and Spokane poet laureate Thom Caraway also shared some of his work.

The content of the poetry varied for each person, which allowed for myriad different topics and emotions to be present at the event. One poem was a tongue-in-cheek representation of selling typewriters, while another was about parents fighting downstairs while siblings hold each other in their bedroom. The mixed bag of topics is one of the important parts of Poetry and Pie, Eldredge said.

“It was great to be a part of an event where I was able to share something I had written with the community as a whole,” Lacey said.

“There is such a diversity of experiences reflected in the people’s poems, and so when different majors come they can share their own experiences through poetry,” Eldredge said.

 

Jacob Millay

Staff Writer

Gearing up for This Whitworth Life

They are students. They are staff. They are faculty. They are alumni. These are the faces that create the Whitworth University community. What is their story? Who are these people? Through a storytelling event titled This Whitworth Life, assistant professor of English Nicole Sheets is striving to awaken the Whitworth community to various personalities and perspectives campus-wide. Sheets attended a similar event at Gonzaga University a few years ago and appreciated the idea of uniting a community through the sharing of experiences. She decided to pilot the event last year and is repeating it with new speakers on

Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Seeley G. Mudd Chapel. Sheets hopes this will be an annual fall event.

The goal of This Whitworth Life is to illuminate some of the untold stories of Whitworth’s faculty, staff and students, she said.

“I’m calling it a storytelling event. I’ve asked several people from different facets of the university to share a short nonfiction story,” Sheets said. “Their prompt was to write about a significant moment in their personal or professional lives.”

By inviting speakers from different parts of Whitworth life, Sheets said she may expose the audience to unfamiliar but valuable perspectives.

“I don’t know a lot of people on the facilities, services and custodial service side of things because they’re often working in other parts of campus, but I know I benefit so much from their work,” Sheets said.

Each speaker will share his/her story, followed by a short reflection by panelists Karin Heller and Fred Johnson.  Sheets said that short reflection is designed to let the audience catch a breath between performances.

Speakers include basketball coach Helen Higgs and Amanda Clark, director of the Harriet Cheney Cowles Memorial Library.

“I expect it to be a time of growth and understanding as we share our stories with each other,” Higgs said.

Part of sharing stories is inviting the audience to experience the speaker’s story as if it were their own.

“This event is very much about the process of being an author and part of that is oral communication,” Clark said. “You have to think about how your audience will engage with your personal story so that it becomes personal to them in a way.”

Two students from Sheets’ creative nonfiction class will also share their stories.  Sheets required each student to write and share an answer to the prompt and then offer evaluations and possible improvements to others. In the end, senior

Katie Ferris and junior Henry Stelter were chosen by the class to share their stories.

Ferris said she is writing about the experience of being a “prefrosh,” or a high school senior looking at Whitworth. Stelter said his story will be inspired by a somewhat traumatic experience in his childhood that helped shape his current self.

“I think it’s very unique event, as it brings people from different roles and disciplines together: professors, students and other types of faculty,” Stelter said. “I think it’s a great way of illustrating how distinct and different the individuals who make up the Whitworth community are.”

For more information on This Whitworth Life, contact Sheets at nsheets@whitworth.edu.

 

Kyla Parkins

Staff Writer

Over the Rhine meets Whitworth

Over the Rhine is not a new band. They have performed for 25 years, but that doesn’t stop them from making more music and touring. Their current tour is what brought them to Whitworth on Wednesday, Nov. 5 for a concert as well as a lecture hosted by English professor Fred Johnson. Although this wasn’t the first time  Linford Detweiler and  Karin Bergquist, members of

Over the Rhine, played at Whitworth, the last time was nearly 15 years ago. Detweiler commented during the performance that the first time they came to Spokane, they played at “a little place called Whitworth College.”

The lecture was in the chapel and it allowed for the duo to discuss their music and their songwriting in a more intimate setting with the students and fans who attended.

“Once the band started to sing at the lecture, it solidified a lot of attendance at the concert. They capture something special in live music.” Johnson said.

The actual performance took place in the MPR at 7:00. Detweiler and Bergquist were accompanied by a third member, Bradly Meinerding,  who played a myriad of instruments throughout the night including the mandolin, resonator, banjo, and guitar.

The band played several different selections of songs from their discography. A good portion of the songs were from Meet Me At The Edge of the World, one of the more recent releases from the band. There was also a song played from the newest album, Blood Orange in the Snow, which is the group’s Christmas album. It was released the day before the concert at Whitworth on Nov. 4.

The band not only writes and records their own music, but they also release it themselves on their own music label that they operate, Great Speckled Dog.

Bradly Meinerding joined Detweiler and Bergquist. Hannah Palmer | Photographer

The songwriting of the band lyrically is perhaps the centerpiece for the group. While talented musically, the lyrics really lead the songs. Topics of the songs include a sense of home, love, the country and family.

The band’s lyrics have references to literature. For example, Over the Rhine’s first album, “Till We Have Faces,” was named after C.S. Lewis’ book of the same name. That prompted the English department to head the event and sponsor the band’s visit to Whitworth. The department helped with security, ran the merchandise table and helped load the band’s equipment before and after the show.

The concert ran for roughly an hour and fifteen minutes. Not only was there music, but the exchanges between the husband and wife and the crowd added to the overall atmosphere of the concert and showed their proficiency with language.

“It was like whenever they talked they were reciting poetry” senior Caleb Dreschel said.

If you missed the Over the Rhine concert on campus, they are playing two shows over the weekend in Seattle at the Triple Door. Tickets are $35 each.

 

Jacob Millay

Staff Writer

Artist Spotlight: Maggie Montague drafts her career as a professional freelance author

It all started with a monkey queen. A young Maggie Montague invented the furry character in her first story. Now a senior, Montague has published several fiction and nonfiction pieces.

“Stories have always been a part of my life,” Montague said. “When I was little, my dad and I would create stories, usually rhyming and ridiculous, before bedtime each night. And my mom would always read me fairytales.”

Implementing her story background, Montague self-published a book in high school.  She described the book as a fiction fantasy coming-of-age story.

“There were dwarves and elves and that type of thing,” Montague said. “But it was about a girl who leaves home when she’s 13 because of a deal her parents made a long time ago…I still have people who come up to me and their kids are reading my book and they say, ‘My son stayed up all night reading this.’”

Beyond the book, a few of Montague’s pieces have appeared in literary journals. Two of her works were published in Script, the student-run literary journal on campus.

“My advice to students who are looking for ways to get their writing out there is to take advantage of Script on our campus,” Montague said. “Script offers students the chance to submit their work and is a good place to start building up confidence in your work, even if it’s just in the Whitworth community.”

Montague also had a creative nonfiction piece titled “From One Synapse to Another” published in Apeiron Review, an online journal based in Philadelphia.

What’s the next step? Montague is currently working on a young adult trilogy.

“I would describe it as Indiana Jones meets the Avengers,” Montague said. “The only thing I have left is to finish revising book three and then I have to look more into literary agents and publishers.”

Although she used to consider herself a fiction writer, Montague said she has found a new voice in creative nonfiction.

“I like creative nonfiction because it lets you look at the world from your own perspective in new ways, which sounds strange, but you see new parallels and new connections that even when you were living in the moment, you didn’t see,”

Montague said. When writing a piece, Montague said inspiration can come from anything someone says, or even an unusual scene.

“The other day I saw a nun driving in a car and for some reason, that just struck me,” Montague said.  “I mean, I know nuns drive cars, but I just had never really thought about it and it caught my attention.”

Montague said her initial inspirations can take her down unexpected pathways.

“I never know exactly where the inspiration will take me,” Montague said. “Sometimes you end up at a place that’s completely unrelated and you wonder how you even got there.”

Although the path can be unpredictable, Montague said writing helps her make sense of life and her experiences.

“It’s a way of translating the things I see in the world, or perhaps what I wish I would see in the world, into something that means more than the summation of its parts,” Montague said.

Writing also alleviates Montague’s stress level. She said it helps her regain sanity and composure.

In addition to that benefit, Montague said writing helps her learn how to live an effective life.

“Writing teaches you the value of being in community and of engaging with new perspectives,” Montague said. “In order to write, you can’t shut yourself off from the world; instead, you have to interact with the world around you. If you write in isolation, what new thoughts can you offer the world?”

Kyla Parkins

Staff Writer

English faculty salvage problematic poetry reading

“As the wind rises,/your legs shake and you remember learning/that language has power. What need for fists,/in the face of such force?”  English professor Thom Caraway said in his original poem “Hard Wind, End of the Block,” which he presented as part of the English department poetry reading Monday, Oct. 6 in the HUB Multipurpose Room. Award-winning poet B.H. Fairchild had been scheduled last spring to read his work at the event, but he cancelled his trip to Spokane a week before the reading on doctors’ orders.

“Mr. Fairchild sends his profuse apologies,” Caraway said. “We send him our best wishes and prayers.” Caraway opened the reading with the first part of Fairchild’s four-part poem about prejudice entitled “Beauty.”

In an effort to salvage the long-awaited and highly publicized evening, the English department gathered a handful of local poets to read in lieu of Fairchild. Nicole Sheets, an assistant professor of English and Cathy Bobb, the wife of English professor Vic Bobb joined Caraway in the presentation of their original creative works.

Students, faculty and community members filled rows of chairs and tables in the Multipurpose room to hear the poetry.

“These are brilliant writers, and they’re part of our Whitworth community. It’s wonderful to come together and listen to their work,” associate professor of English Fred Johnson said. All three of the substitute readers have extensive bibliographies.

Thom Caraway reads original poetry. Simon Puzankov | Photographer

In addition to teaching alongside Johnson in the English department, Caraway is also the poet-laureate of Spokane. He read several poems last Monday, including “Hard Wind, End of the Block,” which is set in his own neighborhood in west-central Spokane. The poem examines the struggles of a father who has been court-ordered away from his family, and who shows up once in a while, ghostlike, to curse at them from the street until the police chase him away.

Sheets has had work published in a variety of journals including “Image” and writes a blog called WanderChic about travel, fashion and everything in between. She presented a piece of autobiographical prose in six parts dealing with her relationship with her mother, her perceptions of salvation and an orange kitten.

Bobb (photo above) recently received the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry for her book, “Among the Missing.” She read a series of poems from the collection. Her poetry focused on loss; the death of her daughter and her struggles with mental health were foremost in her subject matter. Near the end of her reading she made a point to say how blessed she felt, in spite of the hardships she had faced.

Though the evening did not go as planned, Spokane’s tight-knit literary community turned out to support the event anyway.

“Even when things don’t work out we can still pull something together,” junior English major Nick Avery said.

 

Samantha Starkey

Arts & Culture Editor

Book lovers throwback to youth

Whitworth students of both English and non-English majors were reminded of their childhood at the first English department event of the year, PJ’s and Picture Books. On Friday, Sept. 26 students were invited to hang out in the second-floor lounge of Westminster Hall and enjoy classic childhood stories while in their PJ’s. The event was hosted by the English Department’s student-run club, Westminster Round. Laid out blankets and sweet smells of cookies and tea created a welcoming, warm atmosphere. Students were genuinely interested in the children’s stories being read and discussed them with fun, yet analytical perspectives. However, most of the attention was focused on the children running around, telling their own stories. When all the children’s books had been read and the children left, the room was filled with a variety of conversations about dinosaurs, Daniel Tosh and struggles in the Russian literature class.

“I thought it was awesome to meet new people. It was like a little community, but open and relaxing,” freshman Thais Pedro said. Though she is a biology and chemistry double major on the pre-med track, Pedro said she loves writing and would consider being an English major.

English department events are known to have a familial atmosphere and provide English majors as well as enthusiasts, with opportunities to bond over their love for writing and reading.

“Freshmen can meet older English majors and get to know professors more at Westminster events,” junior Katie Cunningham said.

“Students set aside the stress of homework for a given time period to attend an event and everyone there knows that each of us has made that decision,” senior Joanna Szabo said. Events will sometimes be held at a professor or student’s house, and faculty members will bring their families to create a general closeness among members of the department. Though Westminster Round is a student-run club, faculty members are really involved and will sometimes be the motivation for students to attend.

“I like being able to identify characters and motives. I like interaction through story and the art in that,” freshman Chad Shayotovich said. Shayotovich attended two other colleges before transferring to Whitworth and enjoys Whitworth and the English program here. The tight-knit community of the English department is representative of the Mind and Heart philosophy Whitworth advocates.

“Usually non-English majors will come to the Bad Love Poetry and Poetry and Pie events,” Cunningham said. Cunningham is one of the presidents of Westminster Round. They keep their scheduled events open to English majors, minors and enthusiasts, Cunningham said.

At Bad Love Poetry, located in the Mind and Hearth Coffee House and scheduled around Valentine’s Day, slam poets will usually attend to share their poems. Since Poetry and Pie is usually in the HUB, students will stop in and close to a hundred people will attend. Another fun event hosted by Westminster Round is Literary Live Action Clue, in which clues are hidden throughout Westminster Hall and students will go on a scavenger hunt to look for them.

The next upcoming event will be the Harvest Festival, in which students and faculty will gather to reconnect. For more information, look at the events calendar posted in Westminster Hall.

Rachelle Robley

Staff Writer