365 Days of Writing Prompts: Day 55
Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor
of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you
find. What were you doing that year?
In the first part of 1997, I was in my third year at Hollins University (called Hollins College at the time). I’d already completed my Bachelors in English the year before and this third year, I was working on my Masters in Arts and Liberal Studies. I was living in Roanoke VA in an adorable apartment by myself. I was in constant contact though with my Reiki Master, Claire Born, who was also a student at Hollins University. We were making plans to go to Nags Head, NC for Spring Break.
During the early part of 1997, I was taking a writing course under the esteemed poet, Eric Trethewey , who sadly passed away in 2014. You may recognize the last name, as his daughter, Natasha Trethewey was named Poet Laureate for state of Mississippi and the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States in 2012. I was a bit nervous taking a writing course under Eric because he had extremely high standards. I’d already discovered that from the Literature courses I’d taken under him during my Bachelor degree years. However, in the Spring of 1997, he gave me the best compliment I’d received in all of my years at Hollins. I’d written a poem that he really liked and he told me to try to write it in Blank Verse. I was mostly a Free Verse poet at that time and was so scared I would screw it up. When I turned in the Blank Verse version, he clapped his hands and said, “Well done, Lori. I couldn’t have done it better myself!”
During this time, I was also taking a watercolor painting course. I’d dabbled with water colors off and on as a young teenager, but this was the first time I’d actually been taught some structure and form. I wish now that I could remember the Professor who taught the course, but I cannot. Her technique though was unusual. Her paintings didn’t look like water colors until you got up close to see the full effect. She used water sparingly and I was able to learn this technique. I still have the gorgeous painting that I did in her class hanging here in my bedroom.
There was of course the trip to Nags Head, four days spent writing during the morning, playing in the sand and surf in the afternoon, delicious meals in the evening and the wonderful company of my friend Claire. It was a working vacation as we were finishing up writing projects for our exams.
Autumn arrived and with it, my second year for my Masters. I took more writing courses, this time under Adrian Blevins where we explored the Personal Essay and a Flash Fiction course under a Professor whose name I can no longer remember. I took another art course, this time doing all kinds of constructions with various materials. And I took classes on Mythology and Archetypes and the History of Rome.
My experiences at Hollins are some of my fondest memories. I was outgoing during those years, often going to poetry slams and readings, out with friends for coffee late into the evening, and doing a lot of writing. I was living my dream with no thoughts of what was to come just a few short years later when Mental Illness took a hold of me.
Would you like to try this? Grab a coin just laying about and relive a moment from that year. I would love to hear your memories in comments below.