This is my first post in what feels like forever. I regret not keeping up with my blog as well as I’d hoped to in the final weeks of my senior project but I’M DONE! I turned in 20+ pages of original, edited poetry to the Simpson College English Department on Tuesday, April 18th.
After every member of the department had the week to read each English major’s final project, we signed up for what’s known as a defense.
From my understanding, the defense process is the undergraduate version of what a PhD or Masters student endures when presenting a final thesis/dissertation. The process differs slightly between students who choose to do an academic research-based paper versus a creative project.
For my defense, David helped me to prepare by informing me of some commonly asked questions.
I defended my project on April 26th at 10:15 a.m. As a member of the English department, David was present for the defense, which eased my nerves. As a student at a small school pursuing a major in an even smaller department, I’d taken classes from everyone in the room, which helped me relax as well.
The department chair asked me to introduce my project to get the ball rolling and then I fielded questions about my project for the subsequent 30 minutes.
What was my inspiration? How did the poets I read contribute to my own writing? What did I learn about myself in the process?
The questions progressively increased in specificity as the minutes ticked by, requesting my input on intent in various lines, line breaks, punctuation, capitalization and lack thereof, line breaks.
I was only asked one question I couldn’t answer…
Assistant Professor of English, J.J. Butts: You’ve talked about the various poets you’ve read and how they influenced you, but what poets do you think you’re in conversation with?
Me: … *crickets*
Me again: That’s a really good question and I’m glad you asked. One of my goals for this project was to uncover my voice as a poet and discover what kind of poet I want to be. For that reason, I didn’t have a chance to ponder your question enough to answer it honestly, but it’s definitely something I will keep in mind moving forward.
David said I did really well overall.
It’s very difficult to defend original creative writing from uniquely intelligent individuals, whose life work is to read things as closely and as critically as possible. But, I did it and I left Mary Berry Hall feeling at least 1,000 pounds lighter, floating on the endorphins released from the cool breeze through my sweat-stained shirtsleeves.
I graduated from Simpson College three days later amid the final days of a term course, so I’m waiting to receive my papers in the mail. I’m in between apartments in Iowa City at the moment, so I’ve been temporarily listing my mother’s house as my permanent address. I’ll have to let her know to keep an eye out so she doesn’t mistake my English degree for promotional material and throw it away.
I’m glad you asked. I submitted seven of my favorite poems from my portfolio to an undergraduate review called Asterism. I hope to hear back from them in a week or two. I’m living in Iowa City with my girlfriend, Carly, and her brother at the moment, with plans to move in to our own place on the first of June. I’ll be groundskeeping for the Iowa City Community School District full-time during the week and seeking more meaningful employment during my off hours. I have a side job mowing every weekend for my aunt and she’s expressed a desire to build an extension onto her deck at some point this summer if I’d be willing to help. I’m also tossing around the idea of starting my own editing business. Stay tuned for further development on this!
On May 16th, Carly and I are traveling to Portland, Oregon for our own graduation celebration. We’ll be hiking, biking, and craft-beer-drinking our way around Hipsterville, U.S.A. for the week. I hope to catch up with an old friend for a day as well.
Of course, I plan to keep writing and I’ll keep my loyal fans updated via this blog. Maybe I’ll put David’s technique to work and do a little travel-writing while out West.
In the meantime, feel free to read my completed portfolio, Morning Light Today, and as always, caveat lector. Feedback is encouraged!
Thank you, sincerely, to all of my readers.