Confession: I forgot how much I loved English.

On the long drive home from Louisville, I had a realization that I would now like to confess to the wordpress world: I had forgotten how much I loved English. During the past year, I went from passionate and furious writing and reading, to motionless and meaningless completion of assignments. I wasn’t a writer — I was an English student.

I am so lucky to say that attending the convention in Louisville helped me to change that. I have re-discovered that passion I once had for great writing, for cathartic writing, even for bad writing! A man on one panel read his (award-winning) essay called “Do You Make Your Own Tortilla’s?” and I think that with the tear he helped me shed, so too did my boredom with English fall. In sharing his emotional, hilarious, and deeply personal story about his grandmother and their heritage, I remembered: oh. This is why I came to college to study this. It’s an emotion that I am having trouble putting into one word, but I suppose the one that seems to fit best right now is, healing. He healed me of my disinterest, and I would like to think that in sharing his piece, he was healed of some pain as well.

So thank you to that beautiful writer, to the old and new friends who share my (newfound) love for English and Writing, and for the incredibly supportive department at Slippery Rock University that I call home.

I am now going to read some Toni Morrison, and journal myself to sleep.

-Sara

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Squad Goals

A final picture of the 2017 SRU Sigma Tau Delta Convention students. I can’t think of a group with which I would rather represent SRU. We definitely rocked the red and black but I think we’re all ready to change into some green and white.

-Victoria 

Finished: A Quick Reflection Post-Reading

Today was the day: this morning at 8:00 a.m., I presented my short CNF essay in front of a room full of strangers (and my cheering section of fellow Slippery Rock attendees!). This is not my first conference, but it is the most prestigious one I’ve presented at, so I was a bit nervous before it was my turn. However, as soon as I started reading, my nerves were calmed–probably because I blacked out as I was reading. (Does this happen to everyone?)

After the panel, we were asked questions about our writing processes and inspirations, and how we separate fact from memory. It was energizing to be in a room full people, bouncing off of each other’s ideas. Ultimately, that might be my favorite thing about conferences: the unique opportunity to be with so many people (read: nerds) who all want to talk about the same stuff you want to talk about, whether that be misogyny in Star Wars or the way we immortalize memories.

Being finished with my presentation means that this afternoon, I get to relax and listen to some amazing panels (including Jess’s on fairy tale adaptations, which have been  excited for/bugging her about ever since she told me her topic). 

–Amanda Salvia

The Validation of Attending Conferences

 

The most intriguing parts of the two sessions I attended today were the questions and discussions after the papers were read. They were thought-provoking, engaging, and refreshing. There were many questions addressed to the panelists that I wanted to answer myself.

First, I attended a session of Creative Non-Fiction works dealing with love and loss. The moderator ended the discussion by asking them why they write. A short, yet totally complex and weighted question. The panelists seemed to answer them with such quick ease (so much that I am envious) and all had distinct reasons for beginning their journeys in writing. But because no one asked me personally, I had to ask myself, why do I write?

Well, I write because it is who I am. It is in my nature to write. When I was a child, I found books on my own. I gravitated toward story telling by some unseen force. I was fascinated by what I read and I wanted to create my own world too.

I write because it is the only way I am able to make sense of anything that happens in my life. I have kept dozens of journals, all probably less interesting than the last. I record everything that happens so I know how I feel about it. Nothing makes sense in my brain until it is copied down on pen and paper. I also fear forgetting each detail and need it all to be documented.

I write because I cannot think fast enough to speak my mind. I need that time to capture what it is I truly am trying to say. Take this post for example, if I had been asked this question during my session, I would have stammered out some whirlwind of a response that I would think back on later and kick myself for sounding so incoherent. Instead, I get to sit in this hotel bed on my laptop, analyze my thoughts, and use a thesaurus to cure my chronic brain farts. This post is so long because I did not realize how much I had to say about the subject until sitting down to write it. I could go on with this answer until I have written many volumes of books on why I want to write many volumes of books.

The second really important discussion was based in the other session I attended of Sci-Fi/ Fantasy short stories. An audience member asked the panel how their departments support them not only as writers, but as fantasy writers, and if they ever felt inadequate because of their choices in genre. Most of them answered very similarly and I am grateful that I could relate to them. They each talked about how they have professors and advisors who may try to break them out of their shell, but who also support and push them towards what they are most passionate about. While I am not drawn to fantasy writing, being in departments like ours helps me uncover my passion and to feel connected to those who feel similarly. I am lucky to have never felt inadequate. Freshman year, I would have never thought I would enjoy writing creative non-fiction. Yet here I am, presenting a CNF paper that I am strikingly proud of.

Being surrounded by people with similar passions is a bit of morale boost. It makes you realize that you are not alone in what you love. Attending conferences validates the choices I have made in educational paths. I can do what I love and not have to feel sorry for it.

-Emma

Intermission: Day 3

Intermission: Day 3

It’s break time during Conference Day 3, and although I am not one of us who have napped–look, we like naps, okay?–I am feeling energized and ready to conquer an afternoon of panels.

This morning, Victoria became Slippery Rock’s first presenter, and she crushed it; it made me so grateful that we’ve had so many opportunities to present our papers, or practice presenting them, so we can do so with confidence when the moment arises! In about an hour, Kelsey will present her piece and join the ranks, and tomorrow, the rest of us will follow suit in a whirlwind Slippery Rock-Sigma-Tau-Delta Extravaganza. (There are so many of us. You literally cannot avoid us.)

Victoria, Jess, and I walked to Fourth Street for lunch, eating at a restaurant called BirraCibo. It was nice to take a while to socialize outside of academia with these two awesome people who I admire so much, as academic peers and as personalities. I had that thought at dinner last night, too: attending this conference with this group of people has been such a blessing, because it’s giving me the chance to appreciate their ideas and their company. I’m so excited to hear them all present as the weekend progresses.

Dr. Crafton sat in on Victoria’s panel this morning, and we are to go to dinner with him later at an Ethiopian restaurant; this will mark the second time Jess and I have eaten Ethiopian food with the English department this semester–English expands your horizons, y’all.

(See? I’ve been in Louisville for 2 days and I’m appropriating the language. I’ll have to talk to Dr. White about the linguistics of this when I get back to campus.)

–Amanda Salvia

Confessions of a First Time Sponsor

Sigma Tau Delta has been good to me over the years–I have many fond memories of events as a student. It seemed like an obvious role to take on when returning to the university as faculty, yet I have been pleasantly surprised by how much better the reality of co-sponsoring a chapter is than I anticipated.

We have 8 students from our chapter attending this year, 7 of which are presenting. Our first day included a lot of walking between the equestrian-inspired conference rooms for workshops and panels, as well as some exploration of the city. (See Sara’s post for a hotel/museum detour.) I attended a thoughtful round table session on African American women’s identity in pop culture with papers ranging from children’s books featuring positive role models to examples of Netflix-available black lesbian films to an analysis of Beyoncé’s Lemonade. This panel had me fangirling pretty embarrassingly by the end. I almost forgot the paper on Scandal, which led to a Shonda Rhimes debate with which I am deeply invested, having been an early Grey’s fan before it was cool. Yeah, I’m making that claim. It was an excellent panel to start off the convention!

Speaking of fangirling, could I have been more excited to hear Marlon James read from one of my favorite books of the last two years?! I attended his session prior to the reading to hear his approach to teaching and writing. Do his students even know how lucky they are? He gave us a short list of texts that he often teaches, and unsurprisingly there were partner texts–those which tell the same events from different viewpoints. Because this is something I admire so much about his writing, I should have known it would appear in his pedagogy.

Altogether, Thursday was a solid start to the Louisville convention. Despite some mishaps and need for naps for some (see Kelsey’s post), everyone made their path through Day 2. Now I’m about to go get donuts for the crew. They must be introduced to the proper conference etiquette of starting the day with plenty of sugar and caffeine.

–Professor Shoemaker