As a capstone to their experience, seniors majoring in creative writing are required to compile a portfolio of all of the stories, poems, essays, plays and exploits they have put on the page at Knox. Each senior must also produce a 25-page introduction to their work. This week, TKS caught up with senior Areanna Egleston an hour after she submitted her portfolio.
The Knox Student: How do you feel now that your portfolio is turned in?
Areanna Egleston: I think I feel relieved. It was really cool to have it all as a chunk of paper, like, “I’ve made something.” It’s a whole thing. Instead of just scrolling up and down all these pages, you actually have it printed out in a tangible form. That was cool, substantial.
TKS: What have you learned from this experience?
AE: I’ve taken a poetry workshop with Nick [Regiacorte] and … he has you write a defense paper, where…“you must defend your art and declare yourself a partisan of some camp,” and all of that business, which is really intimidating … I kind of liked going back this time through, where I was less defending poetry as an entire thing, but showing how I got to it [and] what has been important for me.
TKS: Do you have any advice for younger creative writing majors on how they should prepare or what they should remember?
AE: Whether or not a class requires that, definitely make an effort in the first half of term to start writing things towards your introduction. [Also] if you can manage to have a good small group, it can be really helpful … as far as revision as well as … “Are you guys freaking out too? Okay, let’s freak out together.” And then like, “It’s gonna be okay. We’re gonna be fine, we’re gonna get through this.”
TKS: Did anything surprise you in terms of going through the process?
AE: There’s a lot to write about. 25 pages? Not that difficult. I met 26 or something, and I [knew there were] … things I could’ve elaborated on a lot more. [It] probably could have been like 40 pages, but nobody wants to read that.
TKS: How did you like working with Chad Simpson, who taught Senior Portfolio for the first time this term?
AE: I’ve never worked with Robin [Metz] before and Nick can be pretty intense, and they both are really intelligent, great humans, but … the environment Chad [Simpson] makes for a class has been … less stressful than it could have been, I think. He’s really helpful in individual meetings. … [He] has a really good sense for “Oh, this is something you should elaborate on,” [or] “Oh, this is maybe random and not necessary,” and helping you find a way to make your introduction into a whole thing.
TKS: Have you been able to tell how you’ve changed as a writer since you were a freshman?
AE: I think I’m less good at it now than I thought I was as a freshman, but I also think that it’s more important … as a practice. Like the way that you practice piano, or you go into the studio as a ceramicist … or you practice yoga— it’s kind of the same thing. You do it and there’s value in this hour, you’ve done this exercise. … Kwame Dawes talked about the importance of empathy and poetry as a way to … train yourself to be more empathetic. I think that’s valuable. Even if you write really terrible poems, you’re still learning a lot.