Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘west chester

Poem “Kitchen Drawer” published in Curio Poetry

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Curio screenshot

I found out early last week that my poem “Kitchen Drawer” was accepted for publication in issue 7 of Curio Poetry! Curio is a (newish) online journal that highlights “the world at a micro-level: tiny spaces, instants, individual objects, scraps of dreams and memories, et cetera.” I decided to submit to this journal after seeing three poems published in issue 2 by M.J. Iuppa. I studied under Iuppa as an undergrad at St. John Fisher College, and her instruction deeply influenced my craft development.

“Kitchen Drawer” was initially composed during an in-class writing exercise for one of my workshops with Kim Bridgford at West Chester University. The poem underwent a bunch of revisions after that, but if you’re interested, here are some similar prompts you could start from:

  • List the items in your junk drawer and write about how the items in a person’s junk drawer can tell a lot about that person.
  • Write a poem about the clutter in your emotional junk drawer.

Thanks to M.J. for introducing me to Curio, Kim for the prompt, and Joseph Harker and Tessa Racht (Curio editor and assistant editor, respectively) for giving me the opportunity to publish this poem next to all of the other amazing work in issue 7.

Written by Erin Dorney

June 11, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Goals for 2012

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I don’t typically do a lot of goal setting, but there are some key things I want to accomplish in 2012 so I thought I’d post them here. If nothing else, it might help me stay accountable now that these have been released beyond my mind’s eye:

  • Read more for pleasure (35+ books)
  • Learn Drupal or die trying (okay, that may be a little extreme…)
  • Successfully defend my MA thesis & graduate from West Chester University
  • Complete Five Wishes/living will and collate all paperwork relating to benefits/insurance in case of an emergency
  • Pay off my remaining student loan and save $10,000
  • Apply for promotion & tenure

And some guiding principles:

  • Go outside
  • Do good work
  • Ideate
  • Help others

What are your goals for 2012? Do you separate personal/professional goals or lump them all together?

Image by http://dryicons.com

Written by Erin Dorney

January 4, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Some Upcoming Projects

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With a more relaxed schedule (I am on winter break until mid-January), I have been able to spend some time planning for the spring semester. Here are some different things I’ll be working on:

  • Three different interviews for my C&RL News Job of a Lifetime column for 2011 – featuring an Outreach Services Librarian, a Research & Development Librarian, and a librarian from ipl2. As soon as the columns are published I will be sure to link to them here. And as always, if you or someone you know has the job of a lifetime, contact me!
  • Over the summer I started working on a collaborative research project and just this week finished the data collection stages with my research partners. We’re doing a content analysis of select academic library websites in order to investigate the unintended messages created by design decisions and use of space. I have had the pleasure of working with a friend (and mentor) and am looking forward to our analysis over the next month. We hope to have some conclusions published in a peer reviewed journal sometime in the future.
  • This summer I will be supervising my first LIS student intern from Rutgers University. Over the past few weeks I have been working with her to put together an internship plan of work (taking into account all of your fabulous comments from my previous post on library internships for undergrads!). It’s a work in progress at the moment, but I’m hoping to give her some projects relating to outreach regarding the renovation (slated to start in fall 2011), information literacy (possibly teaching a few sessions), research assistance (at the help desk) and social media things. She has a background in PR and is a fantastic writer, so I might also try to find communication/design projects as well. I am really looking forward to working with her, and I think I will end up learning a lot as well.
  • I’m going to have another undergraduate intern from Millersville this spring (my third!) so I have been putting together some projects for him as well. He’s going to be shadowing me at the research help desk and in instruction sessions. I think he is also going to work on some writing projects for our Renovation Website (particularly showcasing different issues from an informed student perspective). And informational interviews to learn more about the field of librarianship.
  • Only two creative writing workshops and my thesis project stand between me and my second master’s degree! This spring I am taking a poetry workshop with Kim Bridgford (who has also kindly agreed to be my thesis committee advisor). I am beyond excited to work with her in the coming months. Our required texts include Archaic Smile: Poems by A. E. Stallings, Murano by Mark Doty, Playing At Stillness by Rhina P. Espaillat and Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove. Have you read any of them?

So what projects do you have planned for the upcoming months?  Also, does anyone have advice for supervising an LIS student intern? I want to make sure this is a valuable and productive experience for everyone.

Written by Erin Dorney

January 3, 2011 at 7:40 PM

Reflections on my teaching research writing course.

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The lamp in my hotel room is duct-taped to the nightstand. My window reveals a sparsely filled parking lot, I hurry in and out of the building so that the truckers down the hall can’t catch my room number. Live for five days on peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars, metallic tap water and oranges. Reese’s Pieces from the vending machine. I feel homeless. Rootless. A transient pulled from her bed by the impending flood. I am a nomad wandering from bed to coffee to class. Repeat.

-August 19, 2010

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What I have described here is a brief reflection on my first week-long, 3-credit summer workshop at West Chester University, where I am working on my MA in English through the creative writing program. As of today, I am 18 credits in. In order to earn these latest three credits, I gave up a week of work, my apartment, garden, kittens, friends, significant other, mail. I returned poorer, overripe tomatoes littering the yard, my boyfriend had jetted off to Florida, and I had to sort through a weeks-worth of church fliers, pizza coupons, and rip-off-scratch-off-car-dealership bullshit to find one treasured postcard from a friend. Damn you, Lancaster.

The workshop was called “Re-Learning Teaching Research Writing” and it was about how restrictive, meaningless, and intellectually stifling traditional research papers have become. I went into the class somewhat leery of my inexperience as a teacher (my “teaching moments” typically occur in library instruction sessions and in one-on-one research consultations with students) but realized that after being in school for 18 years now, I have certainly encountered these unappealing research assignments myself. Our two main texts were Bruce Ballenger’s “Beyond Note Cards: Rethinking the Freshman Research Paper” and Davis & Shadle’s “Building a Mystery: Alternative Research Writing and the Academic Act of Seeking.” In a nutshell, we have become so concerned with structure and formalities that we’re making student hate research writing, an activity that can not only be creative and fun, but helps writers negotiate authority, develop their own identity, and create new knowledge.

I have to say, I was very pleased with the classroom dynamic in this workshop. The majority of my classmates were practicing English teachers at the elementary, middle, or high school level and boy, to educators like to discuss! I think I adequately held my own in our conversations, and was able to shed some light on things from a librarian perspective. It also got me to thinking about many of the assignments I see when doing instruction for classes at Millersville… many of them seem to represent the traditional research assignment, overly concerned with conventions and number of sources. I am hoping to put some of what I learned into practice when negotiating sessions with faculty members as well as the general outlook I take when discussing research with students.

Another thing that struck me was the frequency that libraries and librarians came up in our conversations. Many of my classmates talked about how ill-equipped their school libraries are – many relied heavily on the PaLA POWER Library resources that have experienced drastic cuts. Others talked about how their schools do not have enough technology in the library for student use and their experiences with the digital divide. At least one school had fired their librarian due to budget issues and a number of other teachers told me about school librarians who made me want to apologize for my profession (librarians who were downright mean, unwilling to play nice with the teachers, etc). Many of these discussions were in the context of how access (or lack thereof) to librarians, resources and technology impacts the kinds of assignments that teachers can give their students, in turn impacting how well students can truly get to the heart of creative, fact-based writing.

Overall, while living in a hotel by myself for five days wasn’t much fun, I truly enjoyed this class. Particularly on Friday, when one of the teachers turned to me and said “Boy, I wish you could come be the librarian at my school!” ::Score:: Library scenester, challenging librarian stereotypes one day at a time…

What do you think about all of this, readers? Are there any school librarians out there who have had similar conversations? Have you ever taken a week-long intensive course? Did you love it? Hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Written by Erin Dorney

August 30, 2010 at 8:39 AM

The voice of authority.

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Photo 53-polaThis fall I’m taking a poetry workshop at West Chester University. It is the second course for my English MA degree and boy am I excited. My Cultural Studies course last semester was superb – it made me look at everything from a different angle. And after my first creative writing class last week, I’m sure this one is going to be just as good.

I briefly talked with one of my librarian colleagues at Millersville about feeling nervous regarding the transition back to creative writing. I am worried that because much of what I write (outside of this blog) is very academic-y/report-y/blah-y. I am used to writing a certain way for work – in a more professional tone, etc. and I haven’t done much personal writing since college. She recommended reading more fiction (to “get me in the mood” haha), and when I tried to complain that I don’t have much time for any reading outside of professional development she slapped me in the face with the future: downloadable audio books for the drive to and from class. Genius! The Lancaster Public Library has a wide array of books available, and I will be downloading at least one of them to my iPod for the drive on Thursday night. Hopefully that will get me back in the swing of things.

In the meantime, I am posting something I wrote during a freewriting exercise last week. I volunteered to read out loud on the first night of class to set a personal tone for myself. I want to learn from this class and become a better writer, and in a workshop setting I can’t afford to be timid. The exercise can be found here but basically it was to take a “voice of authority” from your life and write in that voice. I chose to write in my father’s voice based on some “parental guidelines” for my brothers and myself. Some of this has been fictionalized and it is by no means a finished product.

Parental Guidelines

We do not watch television during the week,
we spend summers borrowing books from the library
and if you steal from a store you will write them an apology letter
and they will hang it above the register
so that everyone knows
you’re a thief.

We do not read at the table,
we eat together every night
and I will check your math homework
but you’re on your own for writing.

We don’t go on vacations,
we do not spank people
and if  you throw a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup on your brother,
the babysitter will quit,
causing me to stay home
and watch you.

I will not yell at you,
but you will disappoint me
with your choices, words and actions.

I will teach all of you how to drive,
we will not listen to the radio while doing so
and after you fail your first driving test
we will go get ice cream together.

We don’t explode fireworks in the backyard during graduation parties,
we take bike rides together to the beach
and if you were meant to have holes punched in your earlobes,
you would have been born with them.

Written by Erin Dorney

September 7, 2009 at 8:21 PM

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