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Editor's Corner, Spring 2018 Issue

Forward  ♦  Editor's Corner  ♦  Fiction  ♦  Drama  ♦  Creative Nonfiction  ♦  Poetry  ♦  Music  ♦ Art and Photography  ♦  Interviews (Archie Borders and Todd Keisling)  ♦   Spring 2018 Staff  ♦  Spring 2018 Award Winners and Launch Party Photos


Editor's Corner

Sara Marksberry

I am an English major. I have spent most of my college career reading line upon line of poetry and writing page upon page of literary criticism. Before English, I was a music major—a voice student. I spent those days singing art songs and learning the genius of composers like Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart. I went from one arts and humanities degree to another. English is still a core subject in education, but it is in the realm of arts and humanities. To some politicians, educators, and STEM professionals, my degree change was not a logical decision. Compared to the salaries of careers in the STEM fields, the jobs that I will obtain with my degree will make me seem nearly impoverished. I knew going into my program that I would not be making a lot of money, but there is more to life than earning a wage. Yes, I want to provide for myself, but I want to do it in a way that has more meaning to me. I want to create art for generations to come. I want to leave behind contributions that are beautiful and thought-provoking—things that have the potential to change the world. I’m not trying to discredit science and other similar fields, but we cannot forget about the things that make us human. Arts give us the chance to express ourselves, and the works we create now will outlive us. The arts aren’t merely humanities; they showcase our humanity.

Hannah McGee
“Without perseverance talent is a barren bed.” - Welsh proverb

To me, being an English major means being able to pursue a degree and future in something that I love. I get to learn about literature and the way that language works. Most people in office jobs spend twenty percent of their time writing and I feel like my degree in English has really prepared me for writing in a professional setting. I have also met so many amazing people through this program. The professors in the English department are truly the best at what they do and are so passionate about passing along their knowledge. I walk away from classes I had been dreading with a new interest in the topic thanks to the wonderful instructors in our department. The other students are also amazing people. My classmates are some of the wittiest, funniest people I have met and I love getting to hang out and learn with them. My choice to be an English major is one of the best decisions I have ever made. As I near the end of my time as an undergraduate student at Eastern Kentucky University I look back on my time with the English department and cannot help but to smile.

Hannah Lightner
"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home." - Anne Quindlen

As an English major with a focus in Literature, I love studying and hearing the different voices of the people that we study in our classes. How they use a turn of phrase, created a turn of phrase, illuminated a dark and dusty town in the night, break the heart of a woman finding out that she is now a widow. English is words, but literature, old and new, is the use of those words to illicit, create, destroy, devastate, and enlighten through the story the words weave and fabricate together.

That is basically what excites me, interests me, in studying literature. Because, each author is different in how they want to say something. Each author has their own purpose for their work. They each have a purpose behind the words that they chose to craft their story. I enjoy looking at what circumstances surrounded the time of the author and when they wrote their story, looking to see if the author was addressing some issue of their day or pulling from something that happened in their life.

I want to learn from these people who have been deemed masters of writing. I want to learn what made them so great, how what they wrote was so well written it was deemed an essential read for understanding the time of when the piece was written.

Alyssa Howell
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” - C.S. Lewis

I pride myself on being an English student at Eastern Kentucky University. Being an English major has given me the freedom as well as the initiative to challenge myself and grow intellectually. Upon first starting my college career I was unsure of my writing capability. Throughout my last three years at Eastern I have written two seminar papers, created instruction manuals, and written proposals while maintaining a high GPA. The opportunities that I have been given throughout my college career have far exceeded my expectations and shown me that I am capable of anything I put my mind to. Some of these opportunities include being an editor on the Aurora staff, getting personalized assistance with my professors, and establishing my professional presence in the technical writing field.

Understanding literature is essential to understanding the world as well as yourself. Literature gives us the chance to express our thoughts, feelings, and expectations of what life is and means. Without literature we would not have the capability to share the depths of our mind with others, and for that I am truly grateful. Having the chance to be an editor on the Aurora staff has been a great opportunity and I am glad that I am able to help others achieve their dreams of becoming published in our literary journal. This is my first editing experience and I have enjoyed reading many outstanding submissions and providing feedback for students to continue to improve their writing skills. I am excited to see the progression of Aurora and to continue assisting students in their publishing process.

Jordan Connelly
“Every artist was first an amateur.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being an English major means that you’re going to get a lot of questions, generally about what you think you’re going to “do” with your life and, on occasion, why you hate yourself. What I wish more people would realize is how useful an English degree can be. The world will always have a need for critical writers and analysts, people who can communicate their ideas both effectively and efficiently. English isn’t the only misunderstood field of study, though. Society likes to look at liberal arts degrees overall as somehow being “lesser.” This simply isn’t true. All liberal arts majors play an important role in shaping society and expressing every beautiful, frustrating, extraordinary complexity humanity has to offer.

I can’t imagine calling myself anything other than an English major. Words hold an immense power that has always fascinated me. Reading and writing are a part of who I am as an individual. As much as I hope to publish my own stories one day, I also want to be an editor so that I can help others rea. So much work goes into the creation of a book, and I want to ensure that the efforts of these authors are recognized. Their stories deserve to be shared with the world, and if I can play a part in that, I’ll be happy.

Jared Rose
“My destination is no longer a place, rather a new way of seeing.” – Marcel Proust

Here are two questions that any college student will have heard many times:

“When are you graduating?”
“What do you want to do with your degree?”

It seems like life leads us on a path where going to college is an essential prerequisite before entering the workforce. It’s not even a choice. Once we finally arrive at college, however, it seems that people are only interested in what we’ll do when we’re finished. For English majors (and others majoring in the liberal arts), this is particularly true, as we encounter questions about the legitimacy of our degree.

Of what use can a degree in English literature be in a world that is fast replacing books with electronic devices? How can a concentration in creative writing be of value when it is nearly impossible to support yourself with income from your writing alone?

“We need more welders and less philosophers,” is a sentiment we’ve heard echoed throughout the world of politics lately. The world is turning against intellectualism and with it we are losing readers.

Reading – one of the most fundamental and essential of skills that we instill in our children. We learn compassion and empathy for our fellow men and women when we read about perspectives outside of our own small world. We can visit the Depression-era South and read about a young Scout Finch’s childhood experiences revolving around a case of racial inequality in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, we enter a dystopian America that we will hopefully never know in which books are banned and the world is a lesser place for it. We can still find humanity and old insights made new in reading the verse of Shakespeare; the poetry of Tennyson, Dickinson, Whitman, Eliot, Frost, Auden; the prose of Tolstoy, Twain, Woolf, Faulkner, Baldwin, Nabokov, and many others. It’s all there, waiting to be discovered and rediscovered, if only we open our hearts and minds to it. Assuredly, the world would be a better place if we did. In a world that grows less compassionate with each passing day, we could use more literature majors – now more than ever.

Logan Clark
“Life is a banquet, and whilst gorging oneself is rarely a good idea, it is important to sample and savor every appealing and intriguing flavor available to you, because you don’t know when the next meal will come, what will be served, or indeed if it will come at all.” - Logan C. Clark

The question, “What does being an English major mean to you?” is a bit tricky to answer. That is to say, I needn’t express what being an English Major means to me, because being an English major does mean much to me. Rather, the question which will get the best response is what does writing mean to me, which is a great deal. Writing has been a constant companion to me since I was in the second grade. My teacher, a wonderful woman whose name I have tragically forgotten, had everyone in class write for ten minutes every day. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but my teacher liked my work, and so did my mother. It was, without exaggeration, quite possibly the single most important and defining moment of my life. Writing means more to me than, ironically enough, I can say, but in the interest of a challenge, I will try. Writing is freedom, which is a common thought, but that does not make it any less true. With nothing more than a few bits of charcoal, lead, assorted other elements, and various products composed of wood pulp, I can construct an entire cosmos. The weight of an entire world, worlds even, can rest upon a piece of paper only 0.05 mm thick. Writing is the power to touch people, countless people, everyone who reads your work, and affect their lives. It is the ability to express on paper what you cannot put into words, and to share those words across time. It is freedom and legacy in one, the breeze that carries the seeds of a story and those seeds themselves. It is the closest thing to immortality we can achieve, and the last refuge of the silent.

Joshua Cason
“Writing is a place you can go to when you need to escape from society, life, and even those around you. I want people to believe that when they grab th paper and pen that they can forget their problems at that moment in time. Because at that time they are not themselves they are an author.” – Joshua Cason

To me, being an English major means that you can do anything. English majors from the start, tend to develop both critical and creative thinking skills to do most any job. The thing about English majors is they are dedicated to a project. Once they have started on something and gotten really passionate about it they won’t stop until it is a success. People that know me, know that I did not start off as an English major when I came to EKU. And that was my first mistake. Being an English major gave me people to talk to, to get along with, and even to debate with. If you were to ask me three years ago when I first started college if I ever wanted to be an English Major, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. But, it turns out that I am the crazy one. I love how the English program challenges you enough to use both your creative and critical thinking skills at the same time. Most people when they look at an English Major say things like, “Oh, you must be great at reading and writing, right?” But, what they don’t realize is that is only the beginning of it. Being an English major is not only a major; it is a super power.

Nichole Ransdell
I have always had a love for English, even when every one of my friends disliked it. To me, it means going to a land that your mind created all on its own. To get away from the world, even if it’s only for an hour. Many students feel this way including me, I know what it’s like to want to escape from your own reality. Being an English major is wanting to help that one student get away from their feelings and their own torment, even if it’s only for a little bit. I want them to read books that take their mind off school or work or home life that isn’t bearable for the moment. When I was younger the English language was and is difficult for one to understand. For example, there are more than one meaning for many of the English words that we have today. We are continually changing the English language, especially technology. We abbreviate so many words due to technology and the internet. I want to be able to teach the brilliant minds of students who have trouble with English like I had while I was in middle school and high school.

Marissa Massey
Your voice is drowning in a sea of echoing whispers that tell you who you are, what you should be, and what you deserve. Refuse to listen to anything, but that voice inside of you. Inner peace only comes when all you hear is your own voice.

Literature is a door to endless worlds to be discovered, lands to be mapped, and characters to love, hate, and cry with. Literature surpasses technology and imagination. To study literature is to be an adventurer on the trail and uncovering clues writers have left behind for you to find.

Not studying literature and writing stories was never an option for me. For this reason, Aurora was an important step in my life. Aurora is about highlighting the voices of EKU students; Voices that may not otherwise be heard and people who may not otherwise be seen are given the chance speak up and be recognized. Giving a voice to those whose voice has been silenced by others is something I feel passionately about. So, in a way, Aurora has helped me recognize this passion and shown me a path to explore it.

Many people have told me that they hate reading because they’ve been forced to read books in school that were uninteresting. I usually tell those people that they haven’t met the right book yet. Reading is for everyone; You just need to find books that speak to you. As for studying literature, if you want to be an adventurer within the safety of your own home, then studying English Literature is for you!

Cayla Robinson
"Do I dare disturb the universe?" -T.S. Eliot

I have spent my entire life justifying my love for reading and literature. People ask "why do you love books so much?" and "why have you chosen a liberal arts major over a STEM major?" I've been told by multiple people that they believe I am wasting my potential as an English major. Why should I spend my life with a nose in a book when I could be a doctor or a mechanical engineer? I choose to be an English major because I believe that words have power. Words have the power to incite emotion, mend hearts, and change the world. For anyone afraid of being an English major because they are worried they won't find a job, don't be. If your heart is leading you in the direction of words and stories please follow it. I have never once regretted my English major, and I wish this kind of life satisfaction for everyone. I hope you all enjoyed the beautiful words, stories, and art found in our magazine!

Samantha Travillian
"I don't think people understand how stressful it is to explain what is going on in your head when you don't even understand it yourself"  - Unknown

An "arts" major has so many opportunities for students to explore. We get to express ourselves for all the world to see. But rather than drowning on for 300 words about what being an English Arts major means to me, I want to share with you Shelbi's story and what Art means to her.

Shelbi’s Story

In September 20, 2009 Shelbi and her mom were involved in a car accident that would influence both of them for the rest of their lives. They were involved in a car accident that resulted in Tami, the mom, suffering from multiple internal wounds and Shelbi suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. During the accident, Shelbi's head hit a tree and then her head hit her mom’s head; resulting in what’s known as a global brain injury. When the doctors first examined Shelbi, they told her parents that she would not make it through the night, and if by chance she did, she would spend the rest of her life in a vegetative state. The doctors began to try and discuss what nursing home would be best for Shelbi. After further examination it was decided that Shelbi not only had a brain injury but a broken neck, shattered hips, a broken jaw, and she was unable to regulate her own temperature. She spent the next six months in a neck brace, the next two years with a tracheostomy, and two years with a gastrostomy tube. The doctors also struggled with her skull. A significant part of her skull was taken out and not replaced for two years, as well. Then when it was replaced it quickly had an infection form from an air pocket and had to be removed again. Over the course of 8 years, Shelbi has been through 13 different surgeries. She has no use of her right arm, minimal use of her legs, but still has all feeling in her limbs. Shelbi relies on a wheel chair. She continually does both physical and occupational therapy at Cardinal Hospital.

Shelbi lost majority of her education. She was able to do a little math and she remember some American Sign Language. At first, Shelbi was unable to speak. It slowly came back and now she communicates just fine.

It has been eight years since the accident and her mom says " she went back to school, was chosen homecoming queen, and graduated with an alternative diploma. Shelbi is an artist. She spends her time drawing, painting, and coming up with new ideas to make amazing art projects. She is kind, lovable, and does not dwell on what she cannot do. Instead she keeps surprising us with what she can accomplish. We both survived a horrible tragedy, and seeing her smile everyday makes our lives worth living."

Shelbi's painting of an ocean shore with a starfish in the surf

Every artists work deserves to be acknowledged. Shelbi has endured and overcome a traumatic experience and because of that experience she is the amazing person she is today. She inspires me every single day. Below is a piece of Shelbi’s artwork. Although she must fight every single day, she still an amazing artist.

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