On April 11 the English Club partnered with the English Department in celebration of Literary Spring. Held in the Martire Forum, many students shared creative pieces to an audience of professors and peers. Below are excerpts and explanations of a poem written by Jillian Reis ’23 and a creative nonfiction piece written by Kelli Wrinn ‘23. Both students use their creative talents to discuss complicated topics like mental health and a lost sense of self as young adults.
I Know Why the Caged Bird is Silent
By: Jillian Reis
I know why the caged bird is silent.
she cannot find the notes to express her sorrow
she cannot bring herself to sing of the shackles keeping her down
someone once offered to open the cage, but what good would it be to fly into stormy skies
it is a cage, but it could be worse
she’s seen birds leave and return
beaten, bruised, broken
things could be much worse than her
I know why the caged bird is silent.
The caged bird is silent because if she let out a note, it would be a scream.
Reading this at the Lit. Spring was nerve-wracking, to say the least. I usually try to keep my writing very light and funny, and this was neither. This poem is something that was very personal to me and reflects an experience that some might call traumatic. I originally was not
planning on sharing this poem with anyone but was encouraged by Dr. Young to share it at the
event. It was a hard thing to do but I am glad I was able to read it. People seemed to enjoy it a lot and it felt cathartic in a way. For anyone who can relate to the poem as much as I do, I hope you find your way out of the cage.
Home or Lack Thereof
By: Kelli Wrinn
Sometimes, I would imagine what it would be like to live somewhere else, be a part of a
different family, and live in a different home. Now that I am older and I have lived in new places,
with my friends instead of my family. I find my mind wandering to similar thoughts I had when I was a kid and angry with the world – what would it be like if I lived elsewhere? Back then, I knew my home. My home was a tan-green house with a two-car garage and a pool in the
backyard. It was living with my mom, dad, brothers (one older, one younger), and two cats. It was the big front yard with yellow crabgrass from years of all the neighborhood kids gathering
and playing soccer with a hockey net. It was the friends I spent time with at school and sports practices. Back then, I knew my friends, my family, my street – and they were my home.
For most people, it isn’t this simple. It actually isn’t even this simple for me now. The concept of home is much more complex than the place where you live, as the definition states.
Home is fluid. It is an ever-changing concept of where you feel you most belong. Throughout my life, I have spent a significant amount of time in eight houses with both friends and family. You would think that I feel more comfortable in one place or with one person more than any other,
but truthfully, I don’t.
While writing the longer version of this piece, I realized that homelessness does not necessarily mean that you do not have an address. It can also mean that you do not have a place where you feel you fit the best. I have struggled with this feeling for years, and I learned that
many of my friends and peers feel similarly. Our lives are moving too fast for us to wrap our heads around these changes. Writing this was therapeutic for me – even though I still have these feelings, I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone.
Reading the full piece at the English Department’s Literary Spring, I felt vulnerable. I was not afraid of being judged or criticized but exposed while sharing some of my deepest thoughts. I was scared that the feelings that I wrote about in my essay were wrong, that those who I did not speak to in my writing process would wholeheartedly disagree with my entire stance. If that were the case, then that would mean I would be alone again, and I think that is
why I felt so vulnerable in sharing my piece to a room full of peers. I am appreciative of the
positive feedback I did receive from my peers, but a piece of me will always be afraid that I will
once again be alone in my feelings.
Despite how I feel now, I try to stay positive and incite my positivity in others for our futures. I am hopeful we will not be in this limbo forever. One day, we will find our places where
we belong and feel the most comfortable in being ourselves. When we get there, we can look back on the times when we did not have a home and feel grateful for the lives we have built for ourselves.