Author: Emylisa Warrick

How Is Your Poem Useful to the World?

Photo Credit: Drew’s Photo Shoots It felt like the first day of fall yesterday, a cool morning, on October 1. Fall improves my mood. The heat here in South Carolina can be unbearable. I am in my second year and instead of viewing time as slow and endless, it is speeding up. I came to this school to work with Nikky Finney, and now I am in workshop with her. One of the reasons I came here is already being fulfilled and after this workshop, I’ll only have a year and a half left in this program. Workshop has been really good so far. Each week we’re supposed to do our own research on three poets she’s chosen on the syllabus. She provides a sample of poems from the poets, but we’re supposed to look up more, including books, video interviews, print interviews, essays, etc. We’ll end up reading about 36 poets and their work and will have to hone that list to 25, defending each poet’s usefulness to our world today. We are also …

To Roadtripping and Year One Finally Finished

I’ve driven through 13 states since the last day of my first year of graduate school. I’ve been busy roadtripping and visiting friends and family this summer. One state my partner and I drove through was Wyoming. Though “Big Sky Country” is designated for Montana, I see why it could also apply to Wyoming. While driving, I listened to some old music on my fifth-generation iPod. As Mark Linkous came on, I thought about Elliott Smith, who died for his music and something more. As I looked up, the clouds gathering like the underbelly of a whale, I thought about spray painting my teeth silver and whispering, not shouting, “Valhalla,” a simple release of compressed air, letting go of the steering wheel, and considering this my last episode of daydreaming while driving. “You couldn’t have picked between two more different places to choose from,” said my partner, alluding to the fact that I could’ve moved here to “Big Sky Country” rather than the South for my program. I was romanticizing the landscape. I know that. And …

The Writing Center

Image: Bruce Guenter I work at the Writing Center this semester, instead of teaching, which has been a quiet relief. I don’t feel the rush, almost manic sense of urgency like I did last semester, juggling teaching, my classes, and my writing. I am a tutor at the Writing Center for 10 hours per week. Students make 30-minute or hour-long appointments or they just walk in. I meet with them one-on-one to help them at whatever point they are in the writing process, from organizational strategies to grammar and mechanics improvement on the sentence-by-sentence level. I work with students from a variety of backgrounds. Some are undergraduates, graduates, or PhD candidates. I’ve read English 101 papers to history papers to civil engineering dissertations. As the semester progresses, some students have set up regular appointments with me. I like this part of the job because you can build a relationship with the student, get to know their writing style, and track their progress. Working one-on-one with students has made me feel like I’m meeting more of …

There Is No Winter Here and I’m Kind of Bummed About It

Image: Summer Skyes 11 I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking lately. Somnambulant. What a perfect word to describe this exact activity. The long “o” sounds. The way the “b” wants to bleed into the “l,” much like in “ambling.” Ambling leading to aimless. Aimless leading to wandering. Wandering. I was excited for the second semester, but now that feeling has worn off. Other than workshop, I’m not sure if I’m particularly jazzed about any of my classes. Even workshop feels like a struggle sometimes, not because of the structure or the teacher. I’m just wondering if the newness, the shininess, of graduate school is wearing off. Before I came to South Carolina, I was turning over a new internship every four to six months. The longest job I worked at in Minneapolis was six months and that was in HR. Following that, I interned at one of the nation’s “big five” museums for modern art. When that was over, I interned at a major non-profit independent press. Then, I held a part-time job as a …

Long Distance

Image: Clemson Sometimes, when I get lonely, I listen to Matt’s music while washing a load of dishes or preparing food. It’s one way to be close to him without demanding his immediate attention or response. There’s a different facet to his voice and I can listen passively and think about when we used to be in the same room. I first left him at the airport more than several months ago, at the beginning of August. I cried terribly, my face fracturing in front of airport security and other travelers who could keep it together. I drove back to my new apartment alone and it was raining. Rather than face my loneliness, I slept. I crawled into my sleeping bag and slept on the floor. I didn’t have a bed yet. A couple of hours later I woke up. The sun was dipping early evening rays into the room. I went and got gas for my car and filled the tires with air. It was a new era of me being alone. Even then, …

Tips for Teaching

Image: ErgsArt My first semester of graduate school is officially over. This time tomorrow it will be 2 and ½ years later and it will be finished. One thing I haven’t talked about is being a Graduate Instructional Assistant. As a GIA, I led two 50-minute discussion sections each week. There were 25 students in each section. These accompanied a larger lecture (about 200 students) taught by a professor twice a week (which the students and I also attended). There were five GIAs total for this class. Teaching was stressful for me. It became less stressful as the semester progressed, but the stress never completely dissipates. You could say the same thing about graduate school. At the beginning, there was a lot of encouragement to borrow ideas from online teaching resources, USC’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), and to talk with my peers to exchange ideas. But none of the resources told me how to structure my classroom time. My peers were nice people, but they had their own workload to handle, so we didn’t …

Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Master Class

Happy Halloween! I can’t believe it’s already the end of October. Fall is slowly settling in to Columbia. It was warmer these past few days, but today it is cloudy (my favorite) and I am relishing the cooler weather. The highlight for the month of October was definitely the master class with Claudia Rankine. She gave two lectures/readings at the university and candidates in the MFA program got to take a master class. We were told to write down a microagression and bring it. The class was larger than I expected, maybe around 15-20 people, but it was because alumni were invited, as well. Professor Rankine first asked our name and then we read our microaggression; she closed her eyes while she listened. She did not have a paper copy in front of her. She just listened and, when she spoke, pinpointed exactly what was working in the piece and what wasn’t. She told us to pay attention to the language that was used; the language carries its own stories. To carry these pieces forward, …

My Life Is Reading

I am still adjusting to living without friends or family close by and replacing them with reading and writing. The forty-hour work week has turned into a full work week with different amounts of time dedicated to different things. The daily tasks revolve around reading and writing. I have Fridays off and the weekend is structured around reading. Sunday is the day I do my laundry and cook my meals for the week; I still read on those days. I am taking three classes this semester. First is poetry workshop, second is postwar American poetry, specifically focused on the New York School, and third is post-colonial literature. My favorite class has been workshop so far. Some poetry books that we’ve read that I’ve liked are Debt by Mark Levine, The New Black by Evie Shockley, and A Hunger by Lucie Brock-Broido (which, incidentally, was one of the first books of poetry that I fell in love with). We also get assigned exercises to write and critical articles to read. I really like the critical articles …

Emylisa Warrick Introduction (University of South Carolina ’18)

When I applied to graduate school, I thought I wouldn’t get in. I thought I would apply, receive my rejections, and continue the life that I was living. I had just gotten a job in publishing after several months of internships, and I lived with my partner of eight years by a trio of lakes in a nice, quiet neighborhood in Minneapolis. I attended readings at the Loft and local coffee shops. I made connections and friends in the publishing world as well as friends in the local, literary community. I had a nice life, and I thought I would continue living it. I thought I would still wake up and see Matt’s face every day. I thought I would still run around the lake and see people with their dogs. I thought I would continue strengthening my relationships with people I came to know and cared for. But that’s the thing about making plans; sometimes you follow them and sometimes they just don’t pan out how you expected. I applied for graduate school because, …