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October 04, 2013
Vol. 55 No. 5

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Writer follows dreams

On Monday, award-winning poet Mary Jo Bang read her work to Susquehanna students.
Bang's work "Elegy" is one of the first books of poetry I have read, but the reading gave me a lot to think about. Bang, who teaches writing at Washington University, remarked as she took the stage that she had not realized how dedicated Susquehanna students were to writing until her visit. More than 80 students attended her question and answer session, and she was introduced to the vastness and enthusiasm of the creative writing program, particularly the students who prefer poetry.
Mary Jo Bang was the first visiting writer I have seen. It's true -- the involvement of the writers here is definitely impressive, and it's hard to comprehend how unique the program is until you get here. I was first introduced to it the summer before I applied, when I attended the Summer Advanced Writers Workshop at Susquehanna after discovering it on Google.
I had never taken a creative writing class. I had always wanted to be a writer, but when asked, I would never admit to it. I had never imagined that writing was something I could pursue in college, but at the workshop, I got a taste of what it would be like to write for real. One day I woke up for another college tour and realized that I was done looking, because choosing Susquehanna meant choosing to follow my dream, and I was ready to do that.
The opportunities here are incredible, and the passion of the community makes this program stand out to me. When friends call me and I try to explain how impressed I am, I find myself remembering later all the other things I could have said. We have countless clubs that celebrate writing and reading: poetry slams in Charlie's, faculty readings and even a GO program for writers. The community here is proof enough that I have a future.
Already, I've been able to read my work aloud, swap stories for review, get more book recommendations than I know what to do with and plan a trip to a publishing conference -- all outside of the classroom. The upperclassmen are always willing to give me advice, and they all have a different way of going above and beyond in the program. Just hanging out with people and hearing conversations around campus inspires me.
It's important to me that I have a community here that empowers me and makes me feel like I belong, especially in an unusual major. Mary Jo Bang's reading, with everyone listening attentively and lining up to meet her, reminded me how lucky I am. Almost all writers deal with skepticism and self-doubt, but even after only six weeks, I feel relieved to be here. I always knew that the Writers Institute had exceptional programs, but I really had to see the community to believe it. I'm even more excited to see what the next four years will bring.

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