Senior Readings Continue
The second round of senior readings is on its way. Each senior in the Creative Writing and Literature Department puts together a book-length manuscript before they graduate, showcasing their growth and unique writing styles. Felicia Mackey, Jen Hanson and will be reading selections from their senior books in O’Shaughnessy Performance Space at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 18.
When Jackalope Magazine asked the writers about their upcoming reading, the response from each was different. “Ah, God…” Felicia Mackey says under her breath. “I wasn’t nervous until I started getting closer to it. Now I’m kind of freaking out,” she says.
Jen Hanson says she doesn’t want her reading to drag, so she plans for it to be approximately 10 minutes long. “I’m a little nervous, but getting up in front of people I can put on a mask, thanks to acting classes when I was a kid. It’s a little nerve-wracking because, for me, the most important thing is the influence the professors have had. That’s what I gained the most from going to this school, and so it’s way more intimidating for me to read in front of my professors than my colleagues and fellow students…I’m hoping that the professors that do show are somewhat proud.”
Jackie Braze says she’s a fast speaker. “Especially when I’m reading something, I notice that a lot of people read very slow. But for me, I read super fast, I think it’s because my brain just keeps going,” she says. Depending on how fast she reads, she’ll just read one chapter, or half of a chapter, at the reading. “I know some people can’t interpret my voice sometimes,” she says.
Braze’s tracks are story development and fiction. And her senior book isn’t a collection, but one longer story. “Hopefully it’s going to be a young adult novel,” she says. It’s the beginning of a young adult series. “I like to keep going until I see there’s an end.”
In terms of the themes in her book, Braze says she never thinks of themes while she’s writing. “I normally only think of themes after I’m done with the piece.” She says she allows everyone to interpret her pieces however they’d like, and that her fellow students in the senior reading class interpreted her senior book’s theme as “coming to one’s self.” She says she prefers to write longer pieces because she feels as though that’s where her skills really shine. “I’ve always preferred longer stories, I think for me it gives me a lot to expand on; unlike short stories, where everything has to be like eight to 12 pages. For me, having so much space gives me more opportunities to know my characters. Instead of just having this short blind date, we can go on multiple.”
While speaking about her experience putting together her senior book and studying at SFUAD, Braze mentions some difficulties she’s gone though. “I know that as a writer, it’s been very hard for me because I have autism, and my grammar has been very bad. Unfortunately, that’s just a part of me that I can’t get rid of, that’s why I had to use Grammarly and such. You know what’s very funny? The doctors, when I was three years old, they said to my mom, ‘she’s never going to drive, she’s never going to go to college.’ So my mom thought that I was going to be home forever. Here I am, bachelor’s degree with a book coming out.”
Jen Hanson’s tracks are story development and nonfiction. “Most of my themes are based in psychology so self psychology, depth psychology, Jungian psychology. I tend to look at it from an analytic point of view, like my own experiences that are the nonfiction pieces,” Hanson says. “And then I have some poems that are not really quite as related but I would still say that they’re kind of in the realm of psychology, just in terms of shadow versus light.”
When talking about putting her book together and participating in the senior reading class, Hanson explains that she wants her work to be accessible. “I thought it was going to be more stressful than it was, because my philosophy was I wanted pieces in my book that would be meaningful, if only to me, instead of trying to include as much as I possibly could in order to prove anything,” she says. “So it’s short, but I kind of want to keep it short and leave people maybe wanting more. And if not wanting more, then being like ‘OK, that was a good quick read!’” Hanson says writing is a passion of hers, but not a career. “It really has become about writing out the interior to help me heal.”
Mackey’s tracks are fiction and nonfiction, and her book includes both, along with some poems. “In a majority of my pieces, what I’ve sort of noticed, and what other people have noticed, is that I do focus a lot on ‘othering’ and race issues, but they’re not the main focus. It happens, but there’s other stuff going on,” she says. “And body issues and stuff like that, because it’s stuff that I suffer through, so it’s stuff I tend to focus on.”
Mackey says she’s excited for her family to be able to finally read what she’s been working on while at SFUAD. “It’ll be fun to show my family who’s always like ‘you should major in science’ and just be like…‘look at this, look at it.’”
Braze, Hanson and Mackey all mention past faculty member Dana Levin as one of the professors that influenced them the most. “She was the first one to see me cry in a workshop,” says Braze. “It was freshman year…she was just like ‘it’s OK.’”
Mackey and Hanson also mention Corine Frankland. “She’s taught me so much about psychology, she’s the one who turned me on to depth psychology and it’s become my thing, like I want to get my master’s in depth psychology.” Hanson says. She also mentions Julia Goldberg, saying, “Julia terrifies me, and I love her because of it. I really want to emulate that in my own life, being terrifying but also totally awesome.” This is Hanson’s first semester taking a class with Matt Donovan. “He’s so sweet, and I’m very sarcastic. So sometimes he just kind of looks at me like…’what?’ I’m like, ‘I’m just kidding Matt, I love you. Pretend I’m Julia for a minute, OK.’”
Mackey comments on how studying creative writing often helps students discover other things that they’re interested in. “I knew when I was younger I liked history, and now just being here I’m like…wow, I really like history.” She says she also knew she liked psychology in high school, but at SFUAD her love for it grew. “Part of me feels like if I’d just went to a regular university…I wouldn’t have fully discovered that.”
Though Braze lists many professors she’s liked, she mentions Anne Valente often. “She’s a very, very nice person. She’s a great person. She’s the one who kind of helped me out a bit. Junior year is when I got very intimidated by everyone, so she asked me ‘how can I make it better for you’? and I’m like ‘I don’t know, I have to figure that out myself.’” Braze says. “She always lends a helping hand, and I really appreciate her for that.”
This will be the second of three senior readings this semester. All are welcome to attend at 7 p.m. on April 18 in O’Shaughnessy Performance Space. The next, and final, senior reading will be held on April 25 and will feature seniors Salem Farrell, Melinda Freudenberger and Ana Stina Rimal.