My last semester of college, I took three writing courses and one class on public speaking. It was basically my dream semester.
One of those writing courses was poetry, a form of writing I hadn’t touched in years. Naturally then, as someone who had always labeled herself a writer, I was nervous. I could handle fiction or screenwriting or even the writing I do with The Smile Project, but poetry? Like I said, it had been years.
Needless to say, I fell in love with the course. It was absolutely marvelous. A combination of a phenomenal professor and incredible classmates led to thoughtful discussions and general improvement – across all genres of my writing.
We had two books for that class, one of which was Our Portion: New and Selected Poems by Philip Terman.
I fell in love with that book. I ate up every word. I couldn’t get enough of his writing. On October 21st, 2015, he came to our college as part of an artist talk and poetry reading, as some of his work was on display at our art gallery.
My entire class and I were in the front row as I could barely sit still listening to him read some of his work that we had dissected in class. I was swooning.
After the talk, my friends and I went up to talk to him (and have him sign our poetry books and exhibit postcards). We got to chatting as I gushed over his work and told him what a big fan I was. I told him I was graduating in a little over a month and he asked me what it was I planned on doing next.
I have a lot of ideas…
I started to mutter.
Go on. He patiently inquired.
Well… I might take this internship in Europe or I might drive across the country. Part of me also thinks it might be smart to live at home and work at a nonprofit in Pittsburgh and save some money. I also applied to a great job out in Colorado. I also want to live at New York at some point in my life so that’s kind of a fall back plan. I would love to work at a nonprofit. I’d love to write – anything with writing, really. I also run this movement called The Smile Project. I’d love to keep doing that and make it bigger…
I’m not sure how long he let me just rattle out ideas.
He handed back my postcard, looked me in the eyes, and vocalized the words he had scrawled above his name.
“For Liz – Do all your ideas – every single one.”
I keep that postcard in the back page of my photo album as a reminder to never stop believing in my ideas… in every single one.