Student Reaction to Poet Maggie Smith Reading at Ashland University (10/23/19)
By Melan White
Poems packed with grace, pain, power, and nostalgia stuck with audience members long after they were read aloud on a Wednesday afternoon. On October 23, 2019 English department students, university professors, staff, and community members gathered to hear Maggie Smith read her work. Smith’s poems carry us from the corn fields of Ohio to the depths of the blue skies, and are packed with universal truths and the thoughts of a young Midwesterner. Smith writes from her own lived experience-- she writes as a mother, as an Ohian, and tries not to write as an editor (even though she is one). Smith is well known for her poem “Good Bones,” but it is just a sampling of the breadth of her work. The final lines of Smith’s poems leave readers in awe, wonderment, and a simultaneous deep understanding and deep questioning of the world around us.
As a junior, a Creative Writing and Mathematics double major, and a student athlete, it can be hard to find time to attend events on campus like this one. I was grateful to be able to attend, I felt both honored and inspired to listen to Maggie Smith read her work. Towards the end of the reading when Smith was reading her poem “Let’s Not Begin,” I had this moment of deja vu. I focused in on Smith’s words and realized that I had heard her work before. I was a member of a writing community in my hometown and we would open our writing time with Smith’s poems. It was such a great moment to be able to put a face to the words that had moved me so many times before.
Alyssa Ferrell, a 2019 graduate of Ashland University, has shared what she has been up to since graduation! "Since graduation, I've made quite a few big leaps into adulthood. I moved to Ashland permanently, renovated my first home, got a teaching job at a great district, and I am preparing to get married on September 21st! It's been a busy summer! I am now working as an 11th and 12th grade English teacher at Crestview High School. I did my student teaching through Ashland University at Crestview in the spring, so I really owe my job to AU! I love teaching American and British literature to these kids, but my favorite subject that I teach is Journalism. We only have four kids in the class, but they are all excited to make their voices heard through school publications. I'm really looking forward to getting to know all of my students and creating an engaging Literature program with some of my favorite texts. Teaching my students how to close read is a large part of my curriculum, and I owe my own abilities with close reading to my professors at AU. I hope we can have stimulating discussions in my class like we did during my time at AU!"
- Alyssa Ferrell
Pictured: Alyssa [standing, second from the right] at the Crestview High School's first football game of the season...Read more
The second is one that she is very excited about. The Stylist, which is the UKs leading women's magazine had their 10 year anniversary this year, and to celebrate, they had 10 issues guest edited by 10 women. The current guest editor is Roxane Gay (the last editors were Chelsea and Hillary Clinton), and Roxane Gay asked Sundberg to write the column for the issue. The first link describes the issue (which Sundberg comments "is amazing and features Elizabeth Warren"), and the second link is Dr. Sundberg's piece.https://www.stylist.co.uk/people/roxane-gay-stylist-guest-editor-takeover-10th-anniversary/320116
Congratulations to Dr. Sundberg on the publication of these pieces!