The Coast Guard Academy, while being a STEM school, also has a highly engaged and active Humanities Department. 4/c year, cadets are required to take an English class each semester. This semester, I’m in Honors Writing about Literature, in which cadets spend time composing, memorizing, and reciting a poem in front of the class. The prompt this year was to write about a significant moment in our lives, or a situation that took our emotions to different ends of the spectrum, and model that poem after one studied in class or on our own. In my poem, based on “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes, I reflected on the influence of my dad, specifically his three-month deployment to Qatar with the Air Force, on my own military career.
Usually writing and reciting is all for the assignment; for myself and a few others, though, that recitation goes further, into a full-fledged competition. We participated in a 4/c Poetry Slam, performing our pieces for our classmates and Academy faculty. Poems compete in two categories, “Best Performance” and “Best Poem,” with a winner and an honorable mention for each. Some poems were very personal and poignant, perhaps relating the sickness or pain of a loved one; a couple went for a more humorous touch, for example, one that satirically demonstrated an obsession with social media! It’s a small-scale competition, but once again, an opportunity to perform for an audience and utilize our creative talents. All the poems were very well-written, with beautiful images and emotion underneath them. I had a blast presenting for the crowd, and hearing the unique poems my classmates had created!
I’m really hoping to take more English and creative writing classes later on at the Academy; I hadn’t realized how much writing means to me until I got here. There’s not a whole lot of writing required of cadets, especially for me as a science major; but, if you want to explore language more, there are plenty of opportunities for creative writing contests, publication in a student literary magazine, and so on. I never expected to get such a kick out of editing papers, and scribbling down the thoughts in my head. Just another way this place gets to you, I suppose…
More about Abby.