“I thought I could write a thousand poems. I grew up thinking poetry was easy to write and analyze - but I was severely wrong!” admits Skyler Czapko ’23. “Poetry is much more than just lines on a sheet of paper. Poetry is a pathway to the outpouring of feelings -- all of the author’s feelings, together.”
And so his feelings flow. Czapko majors in secondary history education, with dreams of collegiate or high school coaching. The poetry class – taken to satisfy both an English requirement and Czapko’s own personal interests - introduces elements of poetry and writing techniques. Each week, students submit original poems for critique.
“When students take a creative writing class, they are initially tentative to express their emotions and deepest secrets,” said Bill Walsh, assistant professor of English and Poetry Writing instructor. To help students feel comfortable, Walsh has guidelines for the class. “First, no matter what another student writes, no one is permitted to make fun of them or their feelings or discuss it despairingly outside of class. It’s the one thing I do not tolerate. As we write, we are presenting ourselves in our most vulnerable state.”
Students are allowed and encouraged to use any language they feel is appropriate, including cursing, which helps students “understand that the tool we use, language, is at their disposal.” Walsh also believes it is important that he is completely open with students about his own life. “My life is an open book for them to explore. They are free to ask any questions, and I will give them honest answers. When I am honest with my students about my deepest insecurities and emotions, they reciprocate on the written page.”
“Poets write about different subjects that mean the most to them and about their experiences in life. I wrote about my experiences in a football game, my great-grandfather, a teacher who inspired me the most, my grandmother and how I dealt with her death, and me - growing up without a dad.”
Donuts With Dad
by Sklyer Czapko
I was a little kid sitting at the edge of the driveway
in the rain contemplating.
Am I not enough?
My mother told me stories about my father
“He wasn’t fit enough to be a parent.”
I wondered why he left?
I had to teach myself everything
from riding a bike to shaving.
And with donuts with dad at school
I sat by myself in the cafeteria
watching the other boys
laughing, with their dads.
Years later, after graduation
I received a letter
from my father
wanting to be in my life again.
after 18 years?
Did he want money
or did he want to spend time with me?
I wrote back with my football schedule.
“We have a game only an hour from you” I said.
“Great! I’ll try my best to make it” he answered.
He never showed.