When I came to Coe College, I had very little experience with creative writing. My interest in the hobby was sparked by a two-semester elective I took in high school with a great teacher. By Coe’s CRW standards, my teacher taught very strictly and according to the book. Our assignments consisted of trying almost every different literary form, from poetry to creative nonfiction to flash fiction. All in all, the class was a great introduction to the basis of fiction, poetry, and playwriting, giving me some sort of place in a sea of unfamiliarity. However, the skill that the class didn’t give me was flexibility, fluidity, and other modern qualities needed to judge, write, and understand contemporary poetry.
The Coe Review was a great way for me to learn about the difference between classic and new poetry. In my mind, the greats were untouchable: Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, etc. However, being a part of the Coe Review exposed me a wide spectrum of poetry. I see pieces that use ancient diction and form, and I see pieces that use white space, picture format, and disjointed stream of consciousness. I’ve found that, although different pieces have different qualities, execution is just as important as content in poetry. Even if a writer has a great idea, it can be tricky to pinpoint which style will do it the most justice; that’s why it’s so important to test different methods.
Being a poetry editor on the Coe Review has given me an even greater sense of responsibility than being a reader did. During my freshman year, I got a good taste of how much dedication is required to be a functional, efficient part of the team. Being an editor, however, has forced me to analyze the poetry I read rather than simply skimming over it. The process is now comprised of multiple steps rather than reading and voting. Although it’s a lot of hard work, and requires as much analyzation and responsibility as a normal class, it’s a rewarding experience that pays off currently and, hopefully, will pay off in the future. I have a group of people in the Coe Review that are my collaborators and friends. I learn from each of them about their individual jobs (especially publication, which I knew almost nothing about before the Coe Review) and skills. Being a part of the magazine has been one of the greatest highlights of my time at Coe.