The Celebration of Student Writing

On April 20, 2018, English students met in the Miller Education Building to share projects created for a wide variety of English classes and subjects in an event called The Celebration of Student Writing. Officially, the event lasted from 1 to 4 pm, but set-up began hours before that time, largely conducted by a group of dedicated graduate students, teachers, and underclassmen.

But the real story of the event was the presentation of students’ works, scores of students’ works, only a small handful of whom are represented here for each had a story to tell about the creation of their projects or the purpose of their research.

The event wasn’t all poster-boards nor long talks with engaged and excited students, however; The Celebration of Student Writing also hosted the General Education and Upper Division writing awards ceremony, as well as some non-textual and group projects such as this quilt:

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Plan on joining student researchers, writers, and makers again in 2019 for this growing exhibition of English students’ accomplishments!

Photography by Blair Bandy

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Blair Bandy is a senior at MTSU studying Photography and Business. On her personal website, she notes, “It’s hard to say where my love for photography sparked from. It’s like it’s always been there. However, I’m striving everyday to improve and learn more about myself and my work.”

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“This series is an ongoing project involving my 92-year-old grandmother. She never fails to amaze me with her positivity and strength. She raised 5 children by herself and worked full time her entire life. I strive to be as strong as she is as I get older.”

 

To experience more of Blair’s work, visit her WordPress or VCSO sites, or find her on instagram!

Student Organizations

The student organizations at Middle Tennessee State University didn’t burst into existence in a miniature big bang: they were created by students to serve the MTSU community or one or more student sub-communities. Organizations may be social, academic, athletic, or professional in nature. After the initial creation of the groups, students have worked to establish and maintain the organizations, acts that often require a significant amount of ingenuity and creativity.

At the CUSTOMS student organization recruiting event on June 5th, 2018, I took the opportunity to talk with representatives from a variety of student organizations about the greatest challenges and rewards of creating, maintaining, and being involved with a student organization.

The challenges expressed by many groups include finding dedicated, involved members and simply getting the word out, letting students know that the organization exists and informing them about what it does. That can be quite a challenge with MTSU currently boasting over 320 student organizations! Other challenges mentioned by group representatives included distributing the workload, dealing with a constant turnover of members as some students graduate and others enroll, and establishing good leadership and the protocols for a smooth-running organization. Some groups have rather more specific challenges, such as including a wide spectrum of beliefs and opinions. Collage, a “student-produced, bi-annual magazine of creative arts,” is faced with a unique problem, according to Editor-in-chief Rebecca Clippers: finding staff is easy, but getting enough good submissions, the creative materials featured in the magazine, especially prose, is difficult.

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However, with the challenges of starting and running a student organization come significant rewards, and the most often noted is finding a sense of community, of making friends and finally feeling you “fit in” somewhere on MTSU’s busy and diverse campus, of relationships found and cemented. With that comes the camaraderie of shared experience, sharing knowledge with others, and seeing the group come together to work toward common goals. Again, some representatives noted very specific goals, such as Avraz Anwar of Pre-Scripts, a pre-professional medicine organization, who noted the chances to network within a professional field, and through that networking to find job-shadowing and volunteering opportunities.

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The representatives from two of MTSU’s newest student organizations, MTSU Bowling and Cause for Conversation (C4C), noted similar rewards that are almost certainly shared by those involved in every group: the idea that you have created something, that you can watch ideas evolve into events and activities, that you experience the sense of hope that the organization to which you’ve devoted your time and energies will last and grow!

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If you’re not already a part of one of MTSU’s many student organizations, you should be. For a full list of currently active groups, see the MyMT organizations directory.  Or, if you perceive a need for a new student organization, create one! The guidelines are available on the Students Organizations and Service website.

Thank you to the following groups and their representatives for talking with me in the preparation for this post:

Baptist College Ministries (BCM): Nathan Longwell, Tyler, & Jonathan
MTSU Bowling: Katherine Shattuck
Cause for Conversation (C4C): Sarah Pope, Emily, Megan, & Christian
Collage: Rebecca Clippard & Morgan
Debate: Jordan Nickell, Joshua, & Steven
Fencing: Chadwick Silan, Jane, & Nathan
La Comunidad: Elman Gonzales & Sergio
MT Lambda: Maxwell Pearson, Tina, & Kimberly
Student National Medical Association: Jared Millard
Omega Delta Psi (Recording Industries): Nick Barron & Josh
Pre-scripts: Avraz Anwar & Aelana
Religious Studies Association: Joshua Clemens & Allison
Sandbox: Cory Nelson, Brandon, & Bryce

 

Text and photos by Alvin Knox

Septic Purity: a poem by Angel L. Thurston

In this poem, Angel L. Thurston offers a verse variation of the Norwegian fairy tale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.”

Septic Purity

A pound on the door
revealed a bear,
His fur as white
as the fog in the air.
Before the peasant could
mutter a word,
the bear mauled the man
and wife, and every child
in the room,
except the one
who was young and fair.
She slept on a cot;
he drugged her soul.
Away he took her,
to a faraway kingdom.

When they arrived,
he gave her a silver bell.
When she rang it,
he pounced on her,
her body writhing beneath
his razor claws.
Her eggshell skin
gleamed with blood.
As she slept,
blood stained her legs.
She awoke and cried, and lit
a candle to see the pool.
Then she saw a man,
and tallow fell on his face.
The burn woke him
and he bruised her
tainted hips.

The next morning
she lay on grass.
Her body ached as
fresh blood emitted from
her weak body.
She came across three hags
who told her she was impure.
Each one gave the girl an item—
a golden carding comb,
a golden apple,
a golden spinning wheel—
to present to the queen
so the queen would make
the girl pure again.

East, west, south, north.
Each wind took her
closer to the castle
East of the Sun,
West of the Moon.
She presented each
golden item to the queen.
The vile lady turned away the gold,
but agreed to take away her impurity
if the girl were to kill her son.
In the prince’s chamber,
as night fell,
the girl slit his throat.
As she turned over the queen’s son,
she saw his lifeless face,
looking down at his horrid beauty,
and turned away as
his blood stained the white sheets.

Angel is an English major senior at Middle Tennessee State University. She will be graduating from MTSU on May 5, 2018. Angel’s first publication—the flash fiction piece Wintry Dreams—appeared in the 2016 anthology Wolf Warriors III, edited by Jonathan W. Thurston. Angel, inspired by her brother’s writing and the many books she read, has been writing since she was in the seventh grade. Her dream is to have a novel written and published—not for fame, but as an inspiration and guide to others. Along with her brother, her boyfriend David has been her greatest inspiration by encouraging her every step of the way, even when she was too depressed to return the gestures. Angel can be found reading children’s literature, young adult novels, or fairy tales in a local cat café, sipping away sweet coffee and petting cats (even though she has never done this, she is present there in soul, mind, and heart).

**feature image from MythDancer.blogspot.com

 

 

“Old Fashioned” — Jessica Yellowitz

 

MTSU Creates is pleased to welcome Songstress Jessica Yellowitz back to our pages with her song “Old Fashioned,” the second song on her E.P. The Very Beginning.

In case you missed the last post about her, Jessica is a commercial songwriting major at MTSU and a long-time singer/performer/guitarist. As the school year draws to a close, her schedule hasn’t slowed, but is filled with spring and summer travel and tour dates, mostly in or near her Virginia home.

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Part of the tour included a stop at The Whiskey Room, in Franklin, TN, where she performed in a song-writers’ spotlight with two other MTSU songwriter/performers. Catch a glimpse of that performance, and check out more of her songs on Soundcloud and/or Spotify. You can keep up her busy schedule on her website or Facebook page.

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My Life, My Light, My Love: Photography by Mamie M. Lomax

“My work focuses on 19th and early to mid-20th century gravestones and other aspects of historic cemeteries. The silence is pleasantly deafening in the cemeteries that I have visited, and each has brought different inspiration to me. There is something beautiful about being in a cemetery right before the sunsets.”

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“These pictures are from Rose Hill Cemetery in Columbia, TN. Rose Hill is the fifth stop on my cemetery journey through Middle Tennessee. The journey continues with Mt. Olivet cemetery and Old City Cemetery in Nashville, TN next on the list.”

 

Mamie M. Lomax is a journalism student at MTSU. She is working on her portfolio in order to debut her work officially. She works as a barista in her spare time, as well as dabbles in bass, writing and being a pug mom.  You can find her on Instagram at _mamiemMamie Lomax.cropped.

Art & Design Open House

On March 17th, I had the unusual opportunity to be on campus on a Saturday, and I was surprised by the amount of activity I found. Parking lots were full; visitors to campus strolled the wide sidewalks from Peck Hall to the Student Union. Though on campus for the Linguistics Olympiad, I had the chance to visit the Art and Design Open House in the Todd art building, and I soon found myself wishing I had nothing else to do. A variety of workshops and demonstrations beckoned from the galleries, classrooms, and hallways, and it was with regret that I moved far too rapidly from one to the next and still got to see less than half of what was offered. Of course, if I had been blessed with more time, I would have settled in at my first stop, rolled up my sleeves, tie dyed a tee shirt with Amanda Micheletto-Blouin, and seen nothing else.

A sign coming into the Todd Building suggested there were twelve activities, and I visited only six—an encaustic workshop, led by Erin Anfinson

the Art Ed Printmaking room with Mary Ellis and Brigette Adkins

an inking demonstration by Doug Dabbs

silk screening with Tanner Pancake

an etching demo by Kenny Page

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and the tie dye workshop. Others I didn’t get to see included sculpture, letterpress, button making, vinyl cutting, sand casting, 3-d printing, and illustration. Hmmm…math isn’t my strong suit, but I’m guessing extra activities were added after the sign was made. Regardless, if a similar event comes along again, I will be there, ready to dig in and enjoy, and I hope you will be too!

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Mohamed Abotaleb: Charles Bukowski’s “Bluebird”

Mohamed Abotaleb is a sophomore Media and Entertainment major at MTSU. His video was produced, however, for an English 2030 class in the fall of 2017. His artist’s statement, below, doesn’t mention the fact it took five or six attempts (after many more practice readings) to capture just the right tone and emphasis in the audio recording. We think it was worth the effort!

“The video is based on the poem “Bluebird” By the famous American poet “Charles Bukowski.” Bukowski writes about the reality of the world, regardless of how harsh it is. The whole poem is a metaphor for his emotional struggle, and the blue bird he is talking about throughout the poem represents his personal struggle to express his true feelings. I chose this poem because I love poems that relate more to the real, harsh world we live in. Most times, I find myself or my close friends saying that they hide their true feelings about certain topics to avoid damage or anxiety. This poem tries to show the world and criticize the judgmental nature of our society, how it looks upon people, expecting them all to withdraw their feelings and assimilate into one large emotionless, mindless entity.

“Finding footage online that represented the feelings was quite challenging but truly worth the effort. I shot some of the video on my iPhone, which was quite convenient because I have it with me all the time. I wanted to capture something that related to the poem. I also used phone’s internal mic. It was good enough to capture my voice and filter surrounding noise. I edited the footage with Adobe Premiere and used music I previously bought from a music store. I hope you, as a viewer, connect with the poem and video emotionally, and hopefully the footage conveys the feelings the author intended.”

See more of Mohamed’s video work on his Vimeo account!

Star Blaster: Sandbox at HackMT

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Between the afternoon of Friday, January 26th and the morning of Sunday, January 28th, 23 teams of college students from across Middle Tennessee competed in the HackMT event at MTSU, “a 36-hour gathering of young programmers, software developers, visual designers and others teaming up for projects in the Science Building” (mtsunews.com).

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The Sandbox student organization was represented by members Cory Nelson (organization President, coder), Stephanie York (Vice President, artist), and Hannah Owens (artist), joined by MTSU students David Ludwig (coder), Raine Taylor (music design, coding), Cris Clouse (coder), and Bryce Ault (coder). Over the duration of the event, the Sandbox team created Star Blaster, an interactive video game, entirely from scratch: coding, artwork, and music.

You can check out the code (and download the game!) in the group’s Git Repository.

“Life is Sweet” — Jessica Yellowitz

Jessica Yellowitz is a commercial songwriting major at MTSU and a long-time singer/performer/guitarist. Perhaps you’ve seen her performing in the tour room lobby, where she plays for prospective students and their parents, or heard her sing The National Anthem at the MTSU women’s basketball game on January 18th. Hailing from Northern Virginia, the 20-year-old has performed mostly in the Washington D.C. area, but we’re looking forward to seeing more of her in Murfreesboro and the Middle Tennessee area.

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Jessica’s single “Life is Sweet” was noted as one of the top ten songs in the national Faith, Love, and Song songwriting competition in 2016, and MTSU Creates is proud to present it to you. Jessica has been recording at Suckerpunch Recording Studio in Bethesda, Maryland, and her EP The Very Beginning is available on iTunes. You can also hear Jessica on Soundcloud, Spotify, and YouTube.

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To learn more about Jessica, check out her web and Facebook pages:

http://www.jessicayellowitzmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JYellowitz.songwriter/