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Reflection Paper

23 February 2010

Dear Sir or Madam,

        I am interested in a teaching position at Ivy Tech Community College within the English

department. As you can see from the enclosed transcripts, I excelled at my studies, and I would

like the opportunity to contribute to the overall body of knowledge at Ivy Tech. Being alumni, I

am familiar with the standards for excellence which are required of all Ivy Tech professors, and I

feel that I will be a good fit.

        Despite the fact that I was a Literature major, I am working on my MFA with a double

concentration in poetry and creative nonfiction, which is why I chose to submit several poems

for review, rather than some of my literature critiques. As you work through the pieces I have

submitted, you will see a trend toward increased confidence—both in my writing and in my

subject matter—and more fluidity throughout the pieces. In addition, you will see that, while I

initially only felt brave enough to write response poems to other previously written pieces, I have

since stepped away from this trend and am now writing original, creative pieces which better

reflect my personal writing style and ways of expressing myself.

        “I Want to Be a Welfare Mom” was one of the first poems I wrote upon enrolling in a

creative writing course. It was written as a response to Terrence Hayes’ “I Want to Be Fat,” and

this poem pretty much follows Hayes’ original piece to the letter. With the exception of an

obvious subject change, I followed his pattern as closely as possible, not yet confident enough to

take initiative with regard to enjambment, etc. While I enjoyed writing this piece and still find it

to be fairly well-written, I do not feel that it accurately reflects my writing style, but rather

someone else’s.

        “Elegy” is a response poem to Brian Turner’s “Eulogy.” In the original draft, I did a

piece that mimicked Turner’s in much the same way as “I Want to Be a Welfare Mom”

mimicked Hayes. However, after several revisions, the piece started to take on a more somber

note, which I have since discovered is a trademark of many of my poems. I initially tried to have

sound in my poem in the same places where there is sound in Turner’s piece, but it came across

as awkward, considering the subject matter. I was very nervous to depart from my mimicry, but

I was and still am very pleased with this piece. I especially like that I was able to create

something beautiful out of this tragedy, and I hope to share this poem with Chris’ family


        “On the Importance of Finding a Good Woman” is a piece which is completely my own,

and it was the first poem that I wrote which seemed to flow from my fingertips as though it were

already written. In this piece, I used an old analogy (women as steak), but tried to give it a

different twist, one which was not so offensive. I also experimented with line breaks and

enjambment, and I presented the piece in two stanzas in order to give a “he-said-she-said” feel to

the piece. I am very proud of this poem, and it continues to be one of my favorites, although I

have written many more poems since.

        “Afternoon at Grandma’s House” was my first attempt at writing a form poem. I chose

the sestina because of its difficulty, and I was very pleased with the way that my piece came out.

I found that I had a little difficulty keeping the line lengths consistent as the piece went along,

but I focused on keeping my language compact and precise. Wordiness is something I struggle

with, so this was a real challenge to me.

        By the time I wrote “Sweet Baby Mine,” I had made the decision to make poetry my

focus in graduate school. I feel that this piece is one of my best to-date because of the creative

way in which it was written. I intentionally chose to omit all possessive adjectives, giving the

poem a more abstract feel. Additionally, I focused on using compact language and strong

imagery, in order to capture the moment in as little space as possible. Writing “skinny poems”

has always been difficult for me.

        “The Art of Letting Go” is another response poem, to David Shumate’s “The Art of

Forgetting.” While I maintained the prose style of the original poem, I chose to directly respond

to Shumate’s piece, rather than changing the topic to something similar. In doing this, I hoped to

make my piece an actual response to the original piece. I also challenged myself in that I

intentionally used the same number of words which Shumate used in his piece; I did this because

I admired Shumate’s precision and concision in the original piece, and I wanted the challenge of

being able to capture what I wanted to say in much the same way. I also used gerunds in my

piece, which is usually warned against in Creative Writing classes, but which Shumate does in

his piece.

        Finally, “Love Story” is one poem in a series that I have been working on for nearly half

a year now, which I intend to make into a manuscript. This poem was written in a more flowing

narrative style, which is definitely the style I feel most comfortable writing in, but I felt that this

style was suited to the story I was trying to tell. I included a lot of details in this piece, and this

would not have been possible had I opted for a more concise form.

        As you read through my work, you will see a definite improvement in structure and word

choice, but also in overall confidence and creativity. While I started writing response poems

which relied heavily on the original works, I have since gained enough confidence in my writing

that I am currently working on a manuscript-length book of poetry with the intention of being

published within the next couple of years. Additionally, you will see that I am not afraid to

tackle difficult form poems, and that I am able to write in many different styles. This versatility

is one of the strengths of my writing, and it will serve me well as I pursue a career in writing and

teaching poetry and literature.


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