Monday, November 30, 2015

Writing With an Open Mind and an Honest Heart

By Garrison Stima, Creative Writing and Religion major

Unfortunately, like most vocational endeavors, writing is not always a straightforward path that makes perfect sense. In fact, an enormous chunk of the writing process is sacrificial in nature and about juggling a wide variety of ideas and goals. However, this isn’t meant to be a depressing excerpt or even a discouraging rant; rather, it’s about being open to exploring unknown routes. To write with an open mind can mean to sweat and labor over a piece, only to realize that the originally intended path might not be correct for the story someone is trying to tell or the message an individual is attempting to send. Sometimes, when anyone writes anything, that person has to be judicious with the words, characters, or emotions being formulated and conjoined in the text. That can mean letting go of a concept or line of dialogue that originally felt perfect or empowering for the writing because of the realization that it no longer fits in place or that it actually harms the story. When an author allows a specific ending or unrealistic character development to dictate the entire writing process, from beginning to end, too often that plot will bend and twist into uncomfortable shapes that eventually tear apart the foundation and point of the plot. Instead, allow the characters to come to life and make their own decisions, even if it starts down a path that was never intended. Those tales make room for truthful revelations about both people and their journeys.

Of course, to be capable of letting characters take the helm of any scenario, the writer must be correspondingly honest. This is invaluable at the level of nonfiction, without a doubt, but it is also vital on every tier of storytelling. In an intriguing way, people who have read enough, and people who haven’t read much, can both recognize and feel the stubborn air of a dishonest writer. When a father charts down a path that doesn’t reflect him or a friend gives up when her will has never wavered, the reader is yanked from the experience and pinned by these stinging lies formulated by the author in some awkward attempt to spice things up or shift gears. An honest heart can expose real emotions and dissect hard truths in a way that false twists or measures never can. This frank notion comes in countless forms, from being forwardly blunt to being pleasantly candid, and it is actualized through a real desire to connect with readers and open minds into a world of authentic imagination. So, if an individual wants to write in a manner that opens doors and faces reality in uniquely human ways, don’t be afraid of honesty or where the tale may go.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dr. Deborah Fleming will give a reading for her new book, Towers of Myth and Stone

Ashland University Professor of English Dr. Deborah Fleming will give a presentation about her new book, titled “Towers of Myth and Stone: Yeats’s Influence on Robinson Jeffers” on Monday, Nov. 9, at 4 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall in the Dwight Schar College of Education on the AU campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Fleming’s book, which was published by the University of South Carolina Press, was released in mid-September.

In this critical study of the influence of W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) on the poetry and drama of Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), Fleming examines similarities in imagery, landscape, belief in eternal recurrence, use of myth, distrust of rationalism and dedication to tradition.

Although Yeats's and Jeffers's styles differ widely, "Towers of Myth and Stone" examines how the two men shared a vision of modernity, rejected contemporary values in favor of traditions (some of their own making), and created poetry that sought to change those values.

“Jeffers's well-known opposition to modernist poetry forced him for decades to the margins of critical appraisal where he was seen as an eccentric without aesthetic content, yet both Yeats and Jeffers formulated social and poetic philosophies that continue to find relevance in critical and cultural theory,” Fleming said. 

Engaging Yeats's work enabled Jeffers to develop a related, though distinct, sense of what themes and subject matter were best suited for poetic endeavor, according to Fleming.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

AU Mourns the Passing of Dr. Gary Levine

Gary Martin Levine
7/3/1966 – 11/1/2015
“Clever, Caring, Iconoclastic” is how friends and colleagues remember Gary Martin Levine upon his passing in Medina, OH after a brief illness. His sharp wit, keen intelligence, and loving heart kept us laughing heartily and thinking creatively, and we are all the richer for it. He is survived by the wife he loved, Floralyn C. Morata, and the children he adored—daughter Sonoma Michelle Levine (16) and son Carlos Michael Levine (12), in addition to his parents and his brother.
Gary was born in Norfolk, VA to parents Ina Rae Sandler Levine and Robert Nathan Levine. His family, including sister Dina Michelle Levine Zauderer (Marvin) and brother Lee Levine (Tracy), moved to Virginia Beach, VA and Tampa, FL before finally settling in Belvedere, CA, a suburb of San Francisco.
Early in life, friends and teachers noted the humor, intelligence, and literary gifts that would become Gary's hallmarks, both personally and professionally. His academic journey took him first to UC Berkeley (B.A. English) then to Washington University in St. Louis (MFA, Creative Writing) and the U. of Iowa (Ph.D. English). Gary and Floralyn met as students at Berkeley, where they later married in 1998.
After a few years in Boston, the Levines relocated to Ohio, where Gary joined the English Department faculty at Ashland University. At once demanding and compassionate, dedicated and questioning, Professor Levine made a lasting impact on students and faculty alike. As Director of the Composition Program, Gary put heart and soul into helping students find their voices and hone their ideas in writing. He taught a wide variety courses ranging from British Literature and American Studies to Literature and Film. And, as one student noted, he could bring humor to anything, even grammar. His Ashland colleagues speak of Gary’s commitment to academic rigor, his creative leadership, and his verbal repartee that livened up every faculty meeting.
Though Gary lived in his head, as they say, he led with his heart. Nowhere is this more apparent than in parenting Carlos and Sonoma.  He championed their unique gifts and encouraged their curiosity in everything from soccer and tennis to science and spelling bees. He taught them to think for themselves and to love deeply. Friends from all stages of his life also remember his love and loyalty, served up, of course, with a side of humor. As a father, friend, spouse and colleague, Gary Martin Levine was one of a kind, and will be forever missed by those he loved.
A memorial service will be held November 14, 2015, at 10 a.m. at the Ashland University Chapel, Upper Chapel, 527 College Avenue, Ashland, Ohio.