Creative Nonfiction from Student Writers

March 27, 2013

On Wednesday, March 27th, nine students read from their work as part of a Nonfiction Reading Series event featuring creative nonfiction from undergraduate and graduate student writers. The event, which was organized by Professor Minnie Bruce Pratt, Associate Professor and Nonfiction Reading Series co-chair Eileen Schell, and Professional Writing Instructor and Nonfiction Reading Series co-chair Ivy Kleinbart, showcased the work that these students have developed in AAS 338, CCR 760/WGS 700, WRT 422, and WRT 114. Readers included Peter Harrington, Karrieann Soto, Nicky Zamoida, Elaina Crockett, Kassie Brabaw, Courtney Hytower, Red Thomas, Andrew Miller, and Becca Glaser. Here they offer some insight about their work with creative nonfiction in their courses:

I submitted the piece on a whim after my professor, Ryan Johnson-Travis, said that he really liked it . . . . Needless to say, I was pretty shocked when "Grazi" was picked. I've always loved to read and write, and AAS 338 is the first writing class that I've taken at SU that isn't required in order for me to graduate. I really like the class, Ryan does a great job of creating a sense of community within it.—Peter Harrington

[The piece is] an exploration of my many different identities and how these have been formed by my historical contexts and relationships, juxtaposed to a description of those contexts and events that influenced the formation of such identities. Taking CCR 760 with Minnie Bruce Pratt has opened up my perspectives in considering how different events in my life have shaped who I am as an academic, as a woman, as a person.—Karrieann Soto

I LOVED Minnie Bruce Pratt's Feminist Narratives class! She is an incredible teacher, so warm, conscious, and dedicated. She continuously urged us to make sure we were writing to our own 'burning question'. . . She gave extensive feedback on the writing we wrote each week, and she focused on fostering a community among the students. . . . The class enabled me to put together this piece that I'd been thinking of writing for at least seven years. . . about losing loved ones to suicide. . . I write about the heartbreak of being a person, an activist, facing the reality that sometimes we can't even stop the suffering of the people right next to us.—Becca Glaser

WRT 422 was really a great way for me to better my work with all of the different elements we were supposed to incorporate into our narratives. Trying new ways of storytelling really helps if you cannot figure out how pull a story to its full potential. It allows you to play around with it until it seems just right. Creative nonfiction is the way to get your story out and it really has a therapeutic effect on the psyche. The writing I did helped me process my feelings and needs during this difficult transitional stage of my life.—Red Thomas

I knew that the Fall 2012 offering of WRT422 (the creative nonfiction of place, location, setting) was looking me in the eye when I considered signing up. It was 2 months out of army and 8 months out of my most recent Afghanistan deployment. I knew I would write about things I had not yet discussed with others, and I knew that would change me. I did not know that confronting, dissecting and sharing my memory of "An Ugly Place" was just the start of a new path. I enjoy all forms of writing but right now, and I expect for quite some time, CNF dominates my use of writing.—Andrew Miller

It could only have been [WRT 422] that allowed me to discover so much about myself and my relationships. The reflection that the exercises allowed me to do led to realizations that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I was writing my story, and I learned a lot about me.—Kassie Brabaw

My piece is about the difficulties a family faced while dealing with their mother's drug addiction. As someone outside of the family, I struggled to place myself in their shoes, viewing the situation with forgiveness, when I only felt resentment and anger. Ultimately, I come to a realization upon a heartbreaking event in the family that forever changed me. If I could compare Creative Nonfiction to a treasure, Minnie-Bruce Pratt's 422 class would be the map. It was eye-opening and inspired me to dig deeper, to explore both myself and my role as a writer.—Nicky Zamoida

The piece, "Mister" is my first adult nonfiction short story. . . The longing the main character has for "Mr" develops as she grows older. Essentially, this is a coming-of-age piece that we can all relate to, on some level or another. My Creative Writing class is amazing. I love how passionate our professor, Ryan Johnson-Travis is about our work. I am very grateful to have taken this class and I credit it as a huge inspiration for a lot of my work.—Elaina Crockett

As far as the piece I wrote, for me it was about trying to find meaning in the struggles I faced in high school through writing. All of my memories of those four years were sort of jumbled up in my head, and being able to write about them provided a lot of insight to what I was really feeling through it all because this time I had the privilege of hindsight . . . . Although I have little experience in it, I often see creative nonfiction as a type of therapeutic writing, because when the work is finally complete, it allows you to find an inner truth that perhaps at first was not clear.—Courtney Hightower