One year ago, Mischa Willett, poetry professor and Ascent mentor in the English and Cultural Studies Department, composed the following poem when SPU’s graduation-season ceremony known as Ivy Cutting needed to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, the poem still applies this season, and so we include it here, once again.
A Valediction, in Lieu of Ivy
Seattle Pacific University
Whereas once we may have circled you
And sang, torn the hanging vine,
A gift of green spade, renew-
Able radix for transplant, care, a line
To start the poem your lives
Will write whether you will or no,
Whether shaped just so or arrived
A gift entire–inspiration!–but growing,
We have to give the punctuation a miss,
What would have been the full-stop, carriage return,
Chapter next is now, well, this,
A reminder of the real, of ritual, burned
Into the whole world’s narrative by negative
Example. How much we often don’t see!
How much more we might’ve read, have said, relative
To what we did! But no last line of poetry
Actually ends. They ring and echo,
Dwell for ages (and ages hence) in the eternity
Of the mind, a community of caretakers below
The noise, before the reward–the purity
Of transference, of appreciation, of ability sheer
And wild–is yours, you sight-seers, way finders,
Meaning makers greening the otherwise clear
Desert and waste of the world! Artists: remind
Us, who are apt to forget, how much we need
your “inessential” work; how essential to engage
The past, the other, the now; to read, and reading,
See, and seeing, bless the all that’s on and off the page.
Today is the launch for the spring issue of Lingua journal. Free copies are available in Weter Hall until around 1:30 p.m.
The arts and literature magazine is also available online:
Eryn Tan is graduating next month with a degree in English literature.
“I majored in English because, when I was first exposed to literature, I was struck by the intensity and the range of emotions it was able to draw out from its readers,” writes Eryn. “And when I studied the historical contexts of certain pieces of literature, I was also impressed by how literature was not only a vehicle for social commentary but also for social change.”
Eryn continues: “While majoring in English literature at SPU, I learned how my study of literature can supplement my religious faith. I was exposed to several works of literature that, to me, highlighted the beauty, strength, and resilience of God’s creations.” Her literary study at SPU also made Eryn more aware of those in the minority in a given culture and helped her gain empathy with them.
As for her professors, Eryn explains that “[t]hrough their concern, their openness, and their feedback, I think my creativity was encouraged to flourish, and my tendency to aim for perfection was realistically checked.
“Going forward, I plan to work a few years in Malaysia doing editing work and then take a masters (tentatively in publishing).”
Best wishes, Eryn!
On May 24, SPU’s University Store is hosting an online book launch for English Professor Peter Moe’s book, Touching This Leviathan. The Seattle Times‘s reporter Lynda Mapes is moderating. She and Dr. Moe will be talking all things whales.
Registration for the event is here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peter-moe-in-conversation-with-lynda-mapes-tickets-150834400753.
You can purchase the book here: https://www.ubookstore.com/Touching-This-Leviathan.
Hannah Hinsch, who graduated last June with an English major, has published a poem “Caryatid” in Ekstasis, a journal of the arts and academe. Follow this link to the magazine and the poem: https://www.ekstasismagazine.com/poetry/2021/4/22/caryatid