Developing their creative writing skills in the English classrooms is helping some students find their passion for poetry. The free expression experience is transforming them from youthful writers to more skilled poets.
Taylor Havrilla, a sophomore English-creative writing major, says she began writing in the fourth grade when she was inspired after reading the book, “Also Known as Harper,” by Ann Haywood Leal.
“I made my mom get me a notebook, and I filled it with a bunch of stuff,” says Havrilla. “But then in seventh grade, I started getting serious about writing. That was when I started my teenage angst years. So, that was when I would use poetry to get out some feelings.”
Havrilla says her passion for creativity helped her discover poetry.
“I just loved creating something,”
she says. “And then having the satisfaction of having it be finished.”
Although she has not yet published any of her pieces in Southern’s literary magazine, Folio, she says working with the staff in submitting some of her poetry is a goal for the future.
Havrilla says she loves writing fiction, but poetry is more of a challenge for her.
She also says she has not participated in any open mic poetry readings around campus, but it is something she is considering.
Most of Havrilla’s writing comes from the classes she has taken, including Intro to Poetry and Intermediate Poetry.
“Last semester I wrote [a poem] about an old friend of mine that lost touch, then one day she moved without telling me anything, so I wrote a poem about that,” says Havrilla. “It was in a style I didn’t usually write in, and I ended up being really happy with that one.”
Havrilla says she would love to be able to publish poetry in the future, but for now, it is something she does for fun and she only likes to share her poems with her close friends, rather than putting it out into the world, as poetry can be very personal.
“When I want to take a break but still be creative, I’ll write some poetry,” says Havrilla.
In class, Havrilla says she likes to study more abstract poetry because the more you delve into it, the more you can find about the poem.
Across from 800 Leetes Island Road, there used to be a girl named Tori.
She was the kinda gal to make Ramen Noodles in the microwave,
And wore a tank top and shorts as pajamas in the winter.
I made out with my ‘first boyfriend’ on the roof outside her window once,
As she looked across the street at my house, pretending to be an owl.
Three bodies were always sprawling on her bed; me, Ayana, and Tori herself.
Honestly, I was never really relaxed; they wanted to break the rules,
I was the biggest goody-two-shoes. But we listened to “I Just Had Sex”
On repeat, although we were in eighth grade, so we were virgins,
And we saw (and did) some pretty damn seedy things on Omegle video chat.
We even took puffs from the cherry-flavored Blu e-cig that her mom bought her sometimes.
The room was always filled with Tori’s almost maniacal laughter.
One day we were fucking around on the train tracks by her house,
Taking dumb pictures and talking about how hard life was.
While I was sitting on those train tracks, looking thoughtfully into the distance, it hit me
That I really loved these girls. A year later there was a U-Haul in Tori’s driveway,
And she hadn’t told me a thing. She was off to Derby once again.Taylor Havrilla
Havrilla’s dream job would be to become an editor at a publishing company, so she would have the opportunity to work with writing, and to be able to publish her own pieces on the side.
“A lot of people underestimate, regardless of how you feel about writing, how fun it is to just create something. This is mine. It’s mine and I created it and I had a good time,” says Havrilla.
For English major, Arrie Lopez, a sophomore, poetry was very much so tied up with emotional, spiritual and social growth.
For Lopez, poetry was an emotional release after a bad experience with a boyfriend.
After the bad relationship, Lopez was motivated to share her emotions through poetry.
“It’s a place for me to write down my thoughts and feelings,” says Lopez, “and it doesn’t whether or not it doesn’t make any sense or not because it’s just for me.”
Lopez says a favorite piece is the poem called “Scavengers.”
“I really liked [Scavengers] because it was about being sexually abused and kind of having to deal with that.”
“Scavengers” described the main character as ruin who had been found by archaeologist and instead of being treated as a broken, fragile thing, was treated as something beautiful to be eventually restored to their former glory.
When writing the piece initially, Lopez says the poem was difficult to write at first. The process became easier through further writing and editing of the poem.
“That was really nice,” says Lopez, “and it helped me and my own healing process because I am still on that path to restoration and refining myself and enjoying things.”
Lopez is secretary of Bookmarks English Club and would like to implement more collaboration with Folio.
“I think poetry slams are really interesting,” says Lopez. “It’s cool to see so many people from different places. If you’re just there to have fun, you’re just going to pour your soul out on the [microphone]. No one’s going to look at you differently.”
I am no longer a ruin,
the husk of a ravaged city,
a monument to the damage you wreaked
in your quest to sate that all-consuming hunger.
Once, I believed
you had picked my corpse clean,
leaving with the best pieces of me,
content to coat yourself in the gold and jewels of my temples
as I died at your feet.
I had thought you had taken everything, leaving my remains to rot,
sapping even the marrow from my bones.
but, even with your urge to devour,
I have been unearthed.
I wake to the whispers of archeologists,
as they lift my bones from the soil and bits of rubble,
revealing my form to the setting sun.
they trace, almost reverently, the gaping
in my bones
left from your corrosive touch.
I am found in the wreckage and
no longer an artifact, pieces of what I once was.
as they piece me back together, removing layers of dirt,
I am labeled as the restoration project.
and it is there,
years away from the devastation,
I allow myself to heal.Arrie Lopez