Mike Kilen story
Pictures of Ralph Freso
GCU News Desk
The writing became the words of paige walkera life of struggle and loss, but moving forward with rhythm.
The band that plays deep inside / This eternal song in my chest
It’s from his poem, “Cor Mortuum,” Latin for a dead heart, in the new issue of StartleBloom: The Grand Canyon University Literary Review. The annual print edition of Student Writing and Art will be unveiled Wednesday at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Senior Showcase, which features student projects from all departments.
“I was never good at writing. I was diagnosed with dyslexia starting in third grade,” said Walker, co-editor of StartleBloom. “I know what’s going on in my head, but writing it down on paper is bland.”
In seventh grade, she says, a teacher told her her poem was awful and she should quit writing.
“I can do better than that,” she remembers telling her teacher. “I will show you.”
“I started a whole book, gave it to her, and she said, ‘Wow, that’s awful. So, I started writing all my anger on the page, and I gave it back to him. She thought I stole it. ‘It’s not you.’
“Oh, that’s all me.”
“That’s when I start to realize that it’s not the prompts you write from, it’s the feeling you get from the prompt. That’s when I started writing and never gave up.
She used it to process what happened at her charter school in Colorado Springs, Colorado, K-12.
“My friend was into all the sports in high school and he was good. His whole image was built around being that person. But people said things they shouldn’t — that he was going to peak in high school and that’s all he would be. In senior year, he didn’t know what life would be like after high school and decided that was it, that was all he was going to do. My friend committed suicide because of social networks.
She sought to escape and came to GCU, found Christ and a student writing group called Write On. The two helped her find herself and regain hope. “I was able to sort through all my thoughts.”
Dr. Diane Goodman, an English teacher, helped her fight writer’s block due to dyslexia that left her staring at a blank page for hours. She told Walker to say it out loud, record it and then put it on paper.
The words came fast and furious, emotions and memories that raced through his mind in high school, including a fanfare that wasn’t all drumbeats and trumpet crescendos.
No, it was the idea that each part had to/work in sync. In time, rhythm or rhyme
She used her writing experience to bring together the instruments of others with co-editor and conductor Lizzy Esparza and a jury of four other writers who selected 33 literary and artistic works from more than 200 StartleBloom submissions.
“We went through the idea of basic emotions. What does the writer feel and what can the reader take away? says Walker. “We looked for poems that touch the heart of the reader or author.”
Most of the work is poetry, but there are a few short fiction films in the seventh edition of the annual review, started by Goodman to give students experience working on a literary review.
“They write about family and romance, and a lot of them write science fiction or fantasy. But the material we choose is not superficial,” said Goodman. “If they’re writing about something personal, a lost family member, or a breakup, they know the literary devices — imagery, metaphor, narrative, simile — to make it a more universal experience once it turns into poem or story.
Writing comes from a deep place, like “The Invisible” of Jocelyn Sanders.
Invisibility – my inevitable curse./Though they claim to see you –/and call you spotted and pink,/a parade elephant,/until you want to shout:/ “I am me! I am me!”
“I started to feel like I didn’t exist as a human being. I was in this gossip magazine to be read and thrown around,” Sanders said of her place as a woman in the culture and her time growing up in Fresno, California. “Through it all, I became invisible to the people around me. They couldn’t see what I had been through and they couldn’t communicate with me. So I started writing to ask, ‘How did I get here?’
The writing became a companion to work there, and after he arrived at GCU and Goodman recommended writers such as TS Eliot and Edith Wharton, his fire for it ignited.
Sanders joined StartleBloom’s board, and she saw many of the submissions with sad themes as the result of an “overworked and troubled” generation, Sanders said. Yet societal downturns and the fallout from technological change have historically created a renaissance in art and the writing to work with.
She wears pink heart-shaped sunglasses, writes at 2 a.m., reads Kafka, and tries to make sense of it all, be it monster or man, horror or hope.
“What comes down to saying is that everyone feels hurt at some point in their life. Each wound is unique and each scar is unique. But it’s invisible, and they feel invisible with it,” she said.
“I like to get people talking about things they don’t want to talk about.”
For Walker, that means readers don’t all walk away with the same reaction, or even the same meaning, to his product.
“If I write something and they get something out of it, it’s a success. It can be happy or sad,” she said.
His own story has a surprising twist.
“I wanted to escape where I came from. I hated that school,” she said of her charter school. “It was the building, it was me – I never thought I was good enough.
“So I want to reach out to these kids who don’t think they’re good enough and show them. I have dyslexia. I can’t spell to save my life. I’m fumbling on my words. I can’t do math. But I did it. I’m teaching you.
Walker has accepted a position teaching third grade at his old school and begins in August.
Grand Canyon University lead writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.
CHSS senior showcase: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Wednesday April 20, CHSS Pavilion. Connect with senior graduates and learn about their research projects in psychology, behavioral health sciences, professional writing, communications, social work/sociology, justice studies, and Spanish majors.
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