Similarities and Differences Between Nadia Bolz-Weber and Jesmyn Ward

Nadia Bolz-Weber is one of the authors featured in Lenoir-Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series in 2015. She is a Lutheran pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Colorado. Bolz-Weber is the author of La Femme Nadia. In class, we read an excerpt from La Femme Nadia.

The excerpt is the very beginning of her book. Bolz-Weber is at a recovery center for alcoholism. She flashes back to her drinking and talks about what horrified her the most about it. Bolz-Weber then talks about herself as a teenager and how she liked how using drugs and exercising poor judgment felt to her. The story then comes back to the recover center. Margery starts talking about God and prayer. Bolz-Weber realizes that Margery’s way to staying sober is praying to God to help her.

I personally think that there are some similarities and differences in Bolz-Weber’s work compared to the other authors in Lenoir-Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series. One in particular is Jesmyn Ward and her excerpt we read in class called Salvage the Bones. Both excerpts were about something that happened in the author’s life. The excerpts could be considered a memoir and use vivid details through metaphor and simile. Although there are a few similarities, there is one difference in writing style. Ward’s excerpt starts off as a young girl about the age of 8 and uses some “slang” language. Bolz-Weber’s excerpt is during her teenage years and is formal, for the most part, and uses a few cuss words. Both writing styles are similar and different  but are unique.

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Paul Muldoon’s Voice

Paul Muldoon was one of the authors featured in Lenoir-Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series in 2015. Muldoon is an Irish poet who won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He has published over thirty collections of poems such as Moy Sand and Gravel, which is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Horse Latitudes, and Poems 1969-1998, which is the book with the poem, Hedgehog.

In class, we read the poem, Hedgehog out loud and talked about it. The poem starts off by talking about a snail and how it shares it’s secret. Then the poem transitions into talking about a hedgehog and how it does not share a secret with anybody about why it is hiding. One of the questions raised in my mind is why does the snail share it’s secret and the hedgehog doesn’t?

Another thing that stood out to me was how it was written. To me, it was unique. In class, we talked about voice, which is one of the first chapters on the elements of craft. One of the first questions that came to mind his how long it took for Muldoon to find his voice? Since I’m still in the process of doing this, I decided to look it up. To my surprise, I found an interview. One of the questions the interviewer asked was, “How did it feel to discover your own voice?” Muldoon’s answer was shocking. He said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever found a voice.” He later goes on to say, “Each poem demands its own particular voice. It’s not as if one size fits all.” This stood out to me because it is true with poetry. When You look at the different poems of the same poet, each poem has it’s own voice although it came from the same writer.

When the interviewer asked about his first book, which is the book with the poem, Hedgehog, in it, Muldoon answered by saying, “Certainly being reserved was a feature. It’s the reserve of the hedgehog. The emblem of the book, and perhaps much else since. My own personality.” These quotes showed me that my voice comes from my personality. There are going to be different aspects of my personality and it’s possible they will show up in my writing. As far as poems go, this helped me realize that my poems will be unique because everybody’s personality is different.

Works Cited

Muldoon, Paul. Interview by James S. F. Wilson. “Paul Muldoon, The Art of Poetry No. 87.” The Paris Review. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.

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Katherine Howe’s Voice

Katherine How is one of they many writers featured in Lenoir Rhyne’s Visiting Writer Series. She is also the author that is housed on campus in the spring. I was not able to attend Howe’s presentation, but I read the excerpt from Conversion that was given out in class.

The narrator, Ann, is there to talk to Reverend Green and confess something to him. Given the title of the prelude, Salem Village, Massachusetts, May 30, 1706, we, as readers, can infer about what Ann is going to confess to. In class, what Ann was going to confess was one of the questions brought up. By giving the prelude a title, Howe gives the reader another puzzle piece that the reader can put together and figure out what could be going on. I think this shows the individualism in Howe’s writing. Somebody else writing the same story could have went about it completely different. She uses her own voice and ways to describe the surroundings and characters in a creative way.

Between Jesmyn Ward and Katherine Howe, they both have different voices when they write. This was able to show me that everybody’s voice when they write is going to be different. The both also use vivid details in their writing which helps paint a picture for the reader. This has showed me that in my nonfiction story and other writings I need to add vivid details of the surroundings and of the characters.

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Imagery Created By Visiting Writer, Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward is one of the authors featured in Lenoir Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series. In an excerpt from Ward’s National Book Award winning fictional novel Salvage the Bones, she talks about her dog China when she was a pup up to when she gave birth to some puppies. This memory triggered another one: her mom giving birth to Junior. There’s some dialogue shared between Ward and her brothers, Randall, Skeetah, and Junior during the time of China’s birthing.

In my opinion, Ward does a fantastic job at creating imagery by using similes and metaphors. A few examples are as follows: “His face shining like the flash of a fish under the water when the sun hit it,” “Daddy spins away from us like a comet in the darkness,” and “China is blooming.” Although there are more examples, these are just a few. The imagery Ward shows to her readers is phenomenal and unique. This type of imagery gives Ward the freedom to make her writing her own. Unless it is a cliché, most writers will not come up with the same metaphor or simile describing someone or something. Ward helps the reader paint a picture, therefore, hooking the reader instead of loosing them. By adding similes, metaphors, and other types of figurative language or elements of craft, it gives the reader something to do with their mind which is visualizing what is going on.

This excerpt by Ward is a great example of imagery. It made me realize as a writer here at Lenoir Rhyne that imagery is one of the keys to writing. By adding imagery and other elements of craft to my writing, it allows me to connect with the audience n ways that I wouldn’t have been able to do before. Imagery gives me a chance to make my writing unique, and Jesmyn Ward helped me realize this.

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