English Majors Over Fall Break-Road To MFA (Week 15)

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“Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor.”

-Michelle Obama, former First Lady of The United States of America (from her book-BECOMING)

 

Fall Break has been a time of the deepest reflection. It has been a time of examination, hurt, and exhilaration. I slept in, binged on YouTube true crime channels, and talked to my Mama.

Always a good thing. 

I talked to my best friend. I dreamed. I wrote. I declared. I slept some more. I even found a new job! But, with the new job on the horizon, I understand that writing is still going to be what feeds me. And I am okay with this…

But the one thing that I know is this:  I am good at this. I am good writing. I am a good writer. I am choosing love this part of myself and embracing it. There are portions of this writing journey, of this transitioning, that has challenged me. It is requiring me to believe in me–in parts of me that I had only believed in before.

Before.

Before. 

Before I knew what I wanted to write, how I wanted to write and even the school I wanted to go to. I knew that writing was what I wanted. The world of The Arts was what I wanted. What I needed. I knew all this…before.

Before. 

And now my before is now my past, and now to be found again. I had to fight to become the woman that I am now. I have had to remember the things I am doing now, the things that need to be done now, are being done. There is a strength that has come to me, through me, for me, that I can only affirm is divine. It is formidable.

I am becoming formidable. 

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Graduate school is on the horizon.  And still fighting momentary or lasting Impostor Syndrome. It is transient–but the thing is? I remember to breathe in, own my space, and realize that what I desire to do–I can do.

I. Can. Do.

One of my girlfriends in my writing world is Hannah Drake. She reminded me (and everyone else that reads her work!) is to handle yourself like ‘a mediocre White man.’ The Grande Dame herself–my personal Shero!–Shonda Rimes, said that if you are doing something, never call yourself aspiring.

If you are doing something, never call yourself aspiring. 

When I thought of that, when I mulled that over, it freed me. I can’t explain to you why it is–but it did. It allowed, has allowed me to embrace my creative force–and not be ashamed. This thing I do with 26 letters in unique and powerful. I own that. I embrace it. And–I harness it.

This week reminded me not to be mediocre. Not be scared. To see–really see–what it is I want; without being ashamed to go after it. I get that being bold, woman and Black is threatening to some people. But that is the world’s problem–not mine. Not anymore.

The cocoon is broken. I am earning my butterfly wings.  I shall be free.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7-See You When I Get There

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“Big sh-t, poppin, little sh-t stoppin’ “

-Clifford “T.I.” Harris

 

This week? Mane. You remember the paper I told you about that I got a whole 60 on? Well, when I resubmitted it, I got a 92. A 92/100. Bruh. I shouted! I really did! I am now at a 83.5 in Prof. Welch’s class (this is a B-). And this week we started If Beale Street Could Talk? And we have to write a reflection on this? And I love Baldwin?

I am now in a sweet spot for this semester–at least for this week.

In my 4700 class (yes, with Dr. Wall!) we are discussing the poet/writer Tess Gallagher. And with any English class, there will be paper writing. We have a paper that is due in about two weeks. The cool thing is if we do this right, this paper can be used as a basis towards our final paper.

This paper has to be 5 pages. The final paper has to be conference length.  This means it has to be ten pages:  nine full length pages, with the tenth being for citation. I decided to do my paper on Lucille Clifton.

Dr. Wall had us to write a thesis and be prepared to discuss it in class this week. My thesis? Glad you asked:

“The relevance of Lucile Clifton is demonstrated in the canon of American writers because, in the words of Toni Morrison, she helps to decolonize the canon.”

I know, I know. It’s lit.

Not only did Dr. Wall validate my thesis, not only did she champion it, not only did she see how excited I was to write it, she helped to develop my thesis! She helped all of us develop my thesis! This middle-aged White woman, whom is a fan of African-American literature, told me–an African-American undergrad–to write this paper. Like lean into it an write it! She also gave our class this other tidbit.

Dr. Wall reminded us to keep all of our papers. In the case of Lucille Clifton, there has not been enough critically written about her. This just means there has not been enough people whom have engaged her work. There haven’t been enough people that thought enough about her work to ask questions about it.

Trust, I am already thinking about this final paper. I am already thinking about my analysis. I am already thinking about the contrast I want. I am already thinking about where I could send it if Dr. Wall gives her blessing that the work is good enough.

At this point? I’m counting the weeks. I am about 8 weeks out of completing my undergrad. And I get to wear the stole of my father’s fraternity (Kappa Alpha Psi)? I can’t help but think that Daddy would still have to smile at all this.

As long as it took–I still did it. I did it.

 

 

 

 

Week 4-Do It Expeditiously

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“Engage the text.”

-Professor Kimberly Welch

 

This week left the kid reeling. Like for real, reeling! I failed a quiz because there was a day I was so outta focus that I could not focus enough to read. And the book?

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

Bruh.

I mean, I am a fan of Ellison! When I put just my name on that paper to take my quiz and nothing else? Humbling as loose drawls. I vowed right thing, RHETTHEN(!!!), I would not fail not nam nother quiz. But I had a check moment. When I saw that quiz, on the screen, and new I hadn’t read? I couldn’t stand my prof. The same woman I just quoted. The woman, a Black woman, whom has my dream job.

I had to sit with that. I thought she was too hard, thought she didn’t like me, and who did she thinks she was! But, dear ones, Prof. Welch is the first Black English professor I have had this institution! I had to respect her drive, respect for the subject matter, and had to respect her for demanding that a broad keep up! I had to think about what it was like for her, teaching a class where there are only two other Black women–and maybe six Black men.

I had to examine what made her seem to be an enemy, and not an ally. What I came up with? I wasn’t ready, and expected the rules to change for me–because she looked like me. The Black girl space, in that space, this space, excludes manipulation. I had to realize this grade is going to require all of me, and I ain’t scared of that.

But I carved out the Black girl space with a Black girl named, Bianca.  Seeing a girl that looked like me, just as brilliant, in Prof. Welch’s class? This Black woman providing this space to discuss this text (Invisible Man) gave us this chance to deep breath. The cooler thing? We were in this group discussing this text with a girl that was not Black, but when we started crafting this space? She pulled back–she didn’t force her way in.

She pulled a curtain for us. I cannot tell you how dope that is.

There is space in this place, this realm for me–for us. I am charged to not just make space for me–but for those after.

The words are bigger than me.