Creativity Corner

All About the Arts

An Ode to Berlin – and to my Grandma

By Lisann Rothe

“East Ger­man con­struc­tion work­ers build­ing the Berlin Wall.” Pho­to Cred­it: Nation­al Archives

“It’s August 13, 1961 – the day East Berlin starts build­ing the wall,” my grand­ma remembers.

“On Sun­day night, August 13, Wal­ter Ulbricht, East Ger­man head of state, issues an order to close the Berlin bor­der. Police forces put up barbed wire fences. With­in one day, West Berlin became an island in the sea of com­mu­nism. Trains do not run any­more, and West and East Berlin­ers stand shocked on oppo­site sides of the border.

I hear about it at Moabit hos­pi­tal, where I just gave birth to my first child on August 9. I remem­ber being afraid of a new war and feel­ing help­less in the hos­pi­tal, alone with my child, bare­ly 20 years old. Also, we’re sep­a­rat­ed from our fam­i­ly. My grand­par­ents lived in the Russ­ian sec­tor after the war, just ten min­utes from where we lived in the Amer­i­can sec­tor. My hus­band had fled to West Berlin from Ros­tock in the East to mar­ry me. His par­ents, grand­par­ents, sis­ter, and oth­er rel­a­tives still live there. I feel so help­less and yearn for my fam­i­ly. The future seems so unsure.”

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50 Minutes That Make a Name

By Johanna Gabriela Hernández Schäfer

“’What’s in a name?’” by jack dorsey

I’m named after my grand­fa­thers: Johann and Juan. My name is Johan­na. Through­out my life, I’ve met many Johan­nas. At my uni­ver­si­ty alone, I know near­ly a dozen. It’s led to fun­ny and to con­fus­ing sit­u­a­tions, but it’s always been some­thing to con­nect over. On their own, my names are noth­ing to brag about: Johan­na. Gabriela. Hernán­dez. Schäfer. Johan­na and Schäfer are com­mon names in Ger­many, Gabriela and Hernán­dez are typ­i­cal Peru­vian names. Only togeth­er are they spe­cial. Only togeth­er are they me. But – had I been born 50 min­utes ear­li­er, my name might have been Paula (find out why at the end of the poem).

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Free Verse Poetry or “how to play with unseen rackets”

By Maria Moss

Any­one can write free verse – or so the say­ing goes. Free verse poems are free from lim­i­ta­tions of meter, rhythm, or rhyme – all aspects that some­times cause grief to cre­ative writ­ing stu­dents. Most of my stu­dents are hap­py if, for once, they are free to fol­low their own ideas with­out hav­ing to pay atten­tion to what many per­ceive as the arti­fi­cial­i­ty of tra­di­tion­al rhymed and metered poet­ry. How­ev­er, even free verse poems are not void of artis­tic expression.

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A Nude Dance

By Rizwan Wazir

New Year’s Eve is prac­ti­cal­ly upon us once again. Do you always feel guilty for being lazy and not ‘hav­ing fun’ on all the ‘impor­tant’ occa­sions? If so, then instead of curs­ing your­self or the uni­verse for your lone­li­ness, you can choose to be at peace. Instead of scrolling through the Insta­gram feeds of your friends, you can scroll through your own life his­to­ry. Here is a recipe that will make the night one to remem­ber, even if you’re all alone:

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On Bloomsday, Dublin Comes to Many U.S. Cities or ‘Milly Bloom Also Has a Few Words to Say’

By Deborah A. Cecere

James Joyce stat­ue, Earl Street North, Dublin https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_Joyce_statue,_Dublin_1998.jpg

What does the nov­el Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce (1882–1941) have to do with Amer­i­can Stud­ies? The answer is sim­ple: Blooms­day is an annu­al lit­er­ary fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ed in many U.S. cities, around the globe, and par­tic­u­lar­ly in Dublin, the set­ting of the nov­el. The event is named for one of the novel’s pro­tag­o­nists, Leopold Bloom. The nov­el takes place on June 16, 1904, the day that James Joyce met his lat­er wife, Nora Bar­na­cle. Cel­e­bra­tion activ­i­ties include dress­ing up in peri­od cos­tumes, read­ings, the­ater per­for­mances, film screen­ings, and art exhibits asso­ci­at­ed with the nov­el and Joyce’s writ­ings and life. The live­li­ness of the fes­ti­vals tes­ti­fies to the fun of read­ing Ulysses, espe­cial­ly if it’s read aloud. The nov­el is often mis­tak­en­ly described as inscrutable for the aver­age read­er, but it is per­haps more accu­rate­ly described as sur­pris­ing­ly readable.

In hon­or of Blooms­day, I’ve imag­ined a tongue-in-cheek let­ter of con­do­lence from Mil­ly Bloom, now fifty-two, but at the time of the nov­el the fif­teen-year-old daugh­ter of Leopold Bloom and his wife, Mol­ly, to Mrs. Joyce (born Nora Bar­na­cle). The let­ter is dat­ed 1941, nine­teen years fol­low­ing the novel’s pub­li­ca­tion and thir­ty-sev­en years fol­low­ing that famous day in Dublin in 1904.

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