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  • Writer's picturetPoetics Lab Directors

Meet Jacqueline: M.O. Intern

My proudest moment in all of elementary school was writing a fiction story for my fifth grade Writing class. I have always loved to read (and still do), but I had never tried my hand at writing anything except essays before. The assignment was to write a short myth explaining a natural phenomenon, modeled after the ones that we read in class.

I’m sure if I found that story and read the tale of why dogs chase squirrels, it would still make me smile. I’m proud of that story now for different reasons than I was when I was eleven. I’m proud of how much fun I had writing it and how, even though it was a little bit silly, it mattered to me.

Since that story, the focus of my writing has changed from talking animals to more personal topics. Reading has always been an escape for me, something that allowed me to imagine new worlds and different perspectives and spend time in another person’s shoes. Writing, however, has allowed me to be more grounded in my life. When things go wrong, I know I can grab a pen and paper and get all my feelings and thoughts out onto the page. In ink, they seem less powerful, more manageable. When things are good, I can capture the moment and save

it in a way that a picture never could.

One of the most important ways that writing has allowed me to connect to my own life is by giving me the space to explore my family history. My grandparents immigrated from Iraq before my mom was born, eventually ending up in the suburbs of Detroit, where I grew up. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother when I was a child, but I still feel like I never really knew her. When she passed away a few years ago, my mom and I went through old pictures of her and I was reminded that she had a whole life that I’ll never know about. Writing gave me a way to imagine

that unknown life and to feel connected to her even though she’s gone.

Not every story I write is perfect—in fact, I can’t think of one that is. But when I write about things that matter to me, the work matters too. As I prepare to begin my senior year of college in the fall and to finish the work for both of my majors—Economics and Creative Writing and Literature—I remind myself to find the meaning in my work. And on days when I need a little bit of extra motivation, I think of that eleven year old and how excited she was to write, and I try to bring that childlike joy into my writing now.

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