The Literary Way

a newsletter for Xavier University of Louisiana's English majors, minors, and honors students

April 2012

English Department Scholarship Recipients

This academic year (2011-12) the English Department awarded tuition scholarships—a total of $10,000—to the following English majors. Congratulations!

Nikita Peters
Nikita Peters

Shenitria Lewis
Shenitria Lewis (with Mario and MJ)

Gevonne Ruffins
Gevonne Ruffins

Anthony Lotten
Anthony Lotten (pictured with his academic advisor, Dr. Ronald Dorris)

Corneisha McCorkle
Corneisha McCorkle (pictured with Shenitria Lewis)

Creative Writing Scholarship Winners

by Mark Whitaker

Congratulations to the Truman Capote Literary Trust scholarship winners for the academic year 2012-13:

Kayla Rodney and Kamaria Beamon
Kayla Rodney, English major (on the right, pictured with last year's Truman Capote winner and fellow English major, Kamaria Beamon)

Isaiah Jones and Ms. Katheryn Laborde
Isaiah Jones, Political Science major (pictured with Ms. Katheryn Laborde)

The Truman Capote Literary Trust has been a major supporter of the Xavier English Department's Creative Writing program since its inception. Ms. Rodney and Mr. Jones will each receive $10,000, credited to their student accounts, to defray the cost of their education next year. They were chosen based on the merits of manuscripts, submitted to the Creative Writing Awards contest in February, as judged by fiction and creative non-fiction author Fatima Shaik. Ms. Shaik, a native of New Orleans and one-time student at Xavier, was a visitor to campus this spring and gave a reading of several short stories. She currently teaches in the Communications Department of Saint Peter's College in New York City. Following are some of her comments on these writers' submissions.

Kayla Rodney wrote about ambitious subjects in a very clear manner. She used a single, purposeful voice to communicate her ideas. She submitted a body of good work, all of it above average. The writing in Dry Bones, for example, was mature and thoughtful. "Our grandmothers have those dry bones that somehow like sand recognize and memorize the passing of time and still remember the beginnings of music, the beginnings of two steps and shuffles." This is simply beautiful writing in a strong voice and a clear point of view. Her observations in the short stories were sharp, for example, the "hallway with the white popcorn walls." She seems committed to the material and to the field of creative writing in general by the volume and depth of her serious submissions.

Isaiah Jones has strong powers of observation and articulates the material he sees very well. In The Jazz Singer, "That whiskey shot voice of fine grained gravel against pieces of glass." Pretty nice. The Untitled, To My Father is an ambitious and honest portrayal of a son coming to grips with a difficult relationship. I liked the courage in the writing. It is articulated well: "I am aware that because of your failure I have a heavier burden to carry." That is a challenging, thoughtful statement. And Sometimes You Don't Need Titles says that "Pain is like a chipped tooth grin from a street kid—secret, secret, shining." Lovely and a lot of passion in his writing.

Dry Bones
by Kayla Rodney

Our grandmothers have those dry bones that somehow
Like sand recognize and memorize the passing of time
And still remember the beginnings of music
The beginnings of two steps and shuffles.

Dry bones that rattle like-
African shakers covered in seeds
That become the roots of music,
Rain sticks that would eventually be the sound of every sad love song,
Or even red Dixie cups
Filled with dry rice and covered with paper at the top
Reminding everyone of humble beginnings.
They have dry bones that rattle in the hands of musical tones.

Dry bones that
Even at a rickety age
When the sounds of their unfolding and loosening
Is akin to the creaking of an old rocking chair
Still get up and move like the bones of their youth when they hear
The beating of drums, or the blowing of horns.

Dry bones that can automatically come to life!
And jump around like they are pulled by strings
As soon as the choir hits its first notes
"Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun'
Oh, hear the word of the Lord!"

Dry bones that remember,
After years of dancing,
After years of shouting in joy as their carpels and metacarpals
Stomped on the ground and shook them to the tops of their skulls
All the dances their mamas and mama’s mamas did.
They have dry bones that rattle in the hands of musical tones.

Dry bones that dance with children,
And help their bodies remember the Chicago two step
As well as the African dances of the Congo
Before those bones turn into bleach-white powder as they are handed to death from life.

Our grandmothers have dry bones
"Oh, hear the word of the Lord!"

National Poetry Month 30/30, 2012
by Isaiah Jones

I am turquoise floating and because i sometimes speak butterfly my eyes are bejeweled.

In the intensity of small writing and sunlight, i contemplate the humor of upsidedownness.

This is an anti-gravity perspective, jettisoning body beyond terrestrial strings and into the nectar of clouds and the beatless rhyme scheme of a beat-boxing-angry-black man.

I exist and purple paisley is often the vernacular kaleidoscope expressing desires around a neck like a finely worked chain resting delicately, elegantly, eloquently, secure.

The redness proving a blush is not a floral display of genetically altered chrysanthemums to appear scarlet; it is simply a nameless expression of blood flow, an awkwardly galloping horse.

Though five petals do spread outward like the infinity attempted to be confined and interpreted through a watch, they are really fingers, they are one hand, left, spreading.

The fist that has a possibility of forming will be a psychedelic promise raised in the remembrance of pride for something i did not work for and something that should not have to be a trial to overcome.

The fist that has a possibility of forming will also be pushed forward gripping a pen through air pregnant with street laughter, abrasive like gun shots, more honest like gunshots, can you hear the loudness like sirens, and the attached smile heavy heavy like hard work.

New Orleans i am beginning to go swimming in your moist embrace, rain like honey and i a bee reaching for stars still visible through tree canopies.

New Orleans i am beginning to dance towards your hot core, humidity like love and i a child reaching for hands and breast still visible through curious eyelashes.

New Orleans you are green earth and as a seed i give excitement praise to you, asking permission to fall into you and be born again as a subtropical bloom with strong roots to help keep your soil stable and settle into some of the rich soul you have to offer.

English Department End-of-Year Party

On April 30, 2012 English majors and faculty gathered to celebrate the end of another academic year. The results of the election of English Club Officers for 2012-2013 were announced:

President: Shenitria Lewis

Vice-President: Melanie Moore

Secretary: Catherine Fakler

Treasurer: Kayla Rodney

The winner of the Outstanding Senior Award was also announced. This year, for the first time ever, there was a tie in the voting. Graduating English majors Winston Boyd and Nikita Peters share this year's honor.

Winston and Nikita
Winston and Nikita

Other pictures taken that day follow...

Winston Nicole cake Kimberly table table 2 MJ James Javon and MJ Robert MJ David and Christina
Nikita Nia Mia

The students in the last three pictures deserve special recognition:

Nikita Peters displaying her certificate for inclusion in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges;
Nia Beasley, the winner of the First Year Composition Contest;
and Mia Ruffin, the recipient of the prestigious Kemper Scholarship.

Dr. Bonnie Noonan provides more information about the Kemper Scholarship:

James S. Kemper, who instituted the Kemper Foundation, stated that "Education is a kind of insurance. It enables the individual to draw on the experiences of the many to live with integrity, dignity, and usefulness." The Foundation believes that undergraduate study of the liberal arts offers the best preparation for life and career. The ideal Kemper Scholar demonstrates, among other qualities, academic achievement and potential; leadership in school and community; unusual maturity, openness and flexibility; and intellectual curiosity.

Kemper Scholars receive scholarship assistance of up to $10,000 a year for three years. They attend the annual Kemper Scholars Conference in Chicago for three years; are placed in an internship at a non-profit organization in Chicago during their post-sophomore year summer, for which they receive a stipend of up to $6,900; and secure their own post-junior year internship in any for-profit setting in their post-junior year, for which they receive up to $6,000.

The Kemper Scholarship is a great honor for the recipient, our department, and Xavier University.

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The Literary Way is edited by Dr. David G. Lanoue of the Xavier University English Department. Contact: dlanoue@xula.edu