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The Freedom to Write
It's every writer's dream: to be freed from the daily worries of life with plenty of time to write. Abby Goodhart's dream came true when she was awarded an Undergraduate Research Summer Fellowship to spend the summer writing poetry.
Gifts from Capital University alumni and friends fund the Undergraduate Research Summer Fellowship and the Boyd Fund for Undergraduate Scholarship so students can conduct research under the guidance of a Capital professor during the summer term. The experience occurs during a 10-week period. Students are paid a stipend and a campus housing allowance. The literature and creative writing major worked closely with Dr. Kevin Griffith, professor of English, and together they set an ambitious goal of crafting three poems a week for 10 weeks. "The situation was so incredible," Goodhart said. "It gave me the freedom to work on what I'm passionate about — without worrying about financial problems."But make no mistake about the rigors of this assignment. That's a lot of poetry to turn out in a short amount of time. From her favorite writing space — a corner table by the window at Cherbourg, Bexley’s gluten-free bakery — Goodhart practiced her craft for hours, refining it with each line. "It was like poetry boot camp in some ways," Goodhart said. She'd already written plenty of poetry, but this gave her a chance to really explore her poetry-writing style. Although she describes that style as being aggressively Midwestern, she is most comfortable zooming in on objects that set the mood. Case in point: One of Abby's summer poems is about a Toyota Corolla from the 1990s. It was a familiar subject matter, especially since she's the owner of a 2008 Corolla. A second example is a poem she titled Nightlife. It talks about the dust on a bedside table and how the objects in a couple's bedroom may say something about their relationship.To get started, Dr. Griffith recommended a list of poetry for Goodhart to read — a necessary exercise when learning about the various styles. She also read articles about poetry, including its struggle to adapt to the 21st century. This prompted her to write poetry that is more relevant. Goodhart is thankful that Dr. Griffith held her accountable for producing three poems a week. Typically, one of the weekly poems was discarded, and they edited the remaining two. Dr. Griffith provided valuable feedback and the motivation to produce more poems. Undergraduate research is one of the high-impact teaching and learning practices that helps students get the most out of their Capital education. Capital supports undergraduate scholarship in many ways and as early as a student's first year.Goodhart is a big fan of active learning. "It's so much easier to have a one-on-one learning experience with a professor," she explained. "In workshop classes, we write a lot, but this summer I was able to write three times that much." With 20 useable poems to her credit, Goodhart hopes to create a chat book and submit it to a literary magazine, or submit some of the poems individually. She's about to embark on her junior year at Capital, and her long-range plans include pursuing a master's degree in fine arts in poetry.With a summer of poetry writing behind her, Goodhart is thankful to Capital for taking a long shot on a project that is mainly creative. "Opportunities like this are shrinking," she said. "They took a gamble on me, and I am thankful for that."