A Work in Progress…

On Thursday, April 21st, I attended a short reading of The First House, a work in process written and read by Amy Agigian.  Amy Agigian is a Suffolk University Sociology professor as well

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Amy Agigian, reading from her book in progress, The First House

as an author (Baby Steps: How Lesbian Alternative Insemination is Changing the World), and the Founding Director of the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights.  When first arriving to the Poetry Center in the Sawyer Library, the room was loud, where friends, students, and faculty were all talking among themselves as Amy set up.

The room instantly quieted, however, about five minutes later when she began to speak.  Professor Agigian passed around a piece of paper first, to write down each of our names and email addresses, so we could receive a notice when the book was published, and then started into how she began her new book.  She describes, “There are these stories inside me that just want to come out,” and discussed that she had started by writing a list of all these different stories, and then realized that the list was interconnected and has been combining the stories on that list ever since.  At this point, she says, she is about 90% finished with her work in progress, and realizes now that the majority of the snapshots of her life she wrote about were actually centered around her mom.

The first chapter she read from, “A Life in Beverages” tracked her mom’s life and moods, as Amy grew up and learned to recognize what each drink meant to her mother.  She lists ice tea, soda, water, alcohol, etc. and how each drink either revealed to Amy how her mother was feeling or what mood she was in, from when she was pretty young, up to when her mother was getting more and more sick.  Amy’s stories actually started from when she was in grade school all the way up to when her son started 9th grade, some cute and funny, while others more serious and dark, however all were honest and real.  While the stories were definitely nonfiction chapter excerpts, they were also poetic and rhythmic in the way she wrote and read each piece.amyagigian

Through the stories, Agigian goes into her life growing up in detail, as she developed from a mischievous young student who had a heart arrhythmia, to having a lesbian mom and coming out to her friend about it, to being in summer camp and functioning while having a sick mom.  All these stories illustrate how Amy has developed into a strong advocate for women, and how through all the different experiences she had growing up with her mother, shaped her into becoming the person she is.  While Amy is finishing her stories that will become the finishing pieces to The First House, I’ll be patiently waiting for that email alert.

By Shelby Stubbs

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Where I’m From: A Look at Suffolk’s Story Slam

 On Friday evening, ten powerful stories were shared under our very own Modern Theatre’s roof. These ten stories all focused on one thing: Where we’re from. In collaboration with GrubStreet, Friday’s Story Slam set out to tell varying tales of identity. The atmosphere for it was perfect; a warm spring evening after a long week. The lights inside the theatre set the powerful emotional tone that would last the duration of the show. Suffolk’s very own, Amy Monticello’s eloquent introduction only furthered the poignant emotional undertone, and by the time Norah Dooley introduced the first speaker, I knew it was going to be an intense night. First up was Grubstreet writer Brent Daly, who humorously told the tale of a no show Grindr first date that resulted in him finding solace in the LGBT community through Adele’s “Hello”. Following the same humourous note, Suffolk’s Elizabeth Hadley took the stage by storm and delivered a hilarious but equally uplifting monologue that asked us: “Why are we the way we are?” For Elizabeth, this stemmed from wearing a pair of bold socks to school, and even though she was heckled for them on the ride home, ultimately she learned that if she liked them then everyone else’s opinion was of minimal importance. Within her allotted five minutes and fifty nine seconds, Ms.Hadley’s individualistic and confident disposition on life shined through.

    The Slam took a more serious turn once John Doole took the stage. Using no vocal aid to project his voice, he immersed the audience into the world of his good friend Frank. A former cab driver who had suffered a traumatic brain injury after a nearly fatal gunshot to the back of his skull. Doole and Frank met at MGH after Doole had suffered a severe stroke that resulted in him needing extensive surgery which removed half of his cerebellum. Through his depression and desolation post surgery, John started to slowly regain his confidence and relearned his worth. Things were not as fortunate for Frank, who was found dead in his apartment after he was laid off from MGH. Doole encapsulated the loneliness many face after suffering traumatic brain injuries, but more importantly he showed us all the value disabled individuals still possess by ending his story with “I wish I could bust down the door and tell Frank he was valued and that I loved him.” Following suit, Jennifer Morasca only further reduced me to tears as she shared a deeply personal aspect of her life before a room of mostly virtual strangers. Jennifer took the audience on an emotional journey that started during the end of her first semester. After her older sister’s suicide attempt, Jennifer found herself between a rock and a hard place. Her mother had relapsed into alcoholism after a year of sobriety and the rest of her family started to fall apart with varying personal issues. For the duration of winter break, Jennifer spent her time in hospitals but learned incredible lessons about her purpose in life: to help people. Through tremendous pain, Jennifer fought her way through it all with beautiful resiliency, evident in her tone of speech throughout her story.

    Our next three story slammers were from different locales, but all beautifully shared stories of community that each had their own accompanying themes. Grubstreet storytellers Grant Patch and Michelle Ferrari hail from Lexington and Brooklyn, NY, respectively, and talked about topics like Patch’s entire town rallying together to combat the infamous Westboro Baptist Church from protesting at the local high school. While Ferrari discussed attending a swanky garden top housewarming party with her mother’s crumb cake in tow, only for it to be rejected by a health guru and then eventually consumed by that same guru at the end of the party–showing us all that mother always knows best, and not to mess with her crumb cake.

Most notably however, was Suffolk story slammer Janaye Kerr. Her stage presence was warm and soothing, she provided the audience with a breathtaking description of her true home of Montego Bay, Jamaica. This is where Janaye spent most of her childhood with her family, who ran a foster home and always maintained community in every sense of the word. Around the age of four, Janaye’s father applied for a religious visa in order to found a church and do religious work in the states. Though it was a major career step for her father, it caused major bouts of separation anxiety for the entire family. Kerr’s story ends on Christmas Eve, with her mother letting her stay up all night and inevitably falling asleep only to awake and find the greatest Christmas present ever, her father, standing before her in the doorway. Thankfully her family was reunited, and they made the journey overseas to Nantucket. As Janaye put it “Where I am from made me appreciate where I am today.”

     The closing acts brought the heat; Suffolk’s Dan Hurley probably brought the audience (or at least me) to tears as he reiterated the story of losing his mother to early onset Alzheimer’s. Dan’s relationship with his mother solidified his identity, and though he lost his footing after her death, he never let this tragedy consume him to the point of total destruction. On the topic of destruction, Grubstreet’s Katherine Iannarone chronicled her battle with anorexia and her parent’s response to it. Through her family’s turmoil, and her conflict with her mother Katharine learned the power of love, that regardless of how frustrated her parents grew, they loved her unconditionally. Her parent’s helped shape her into the confident woman speaking before us. Sofia Ohrynowicz closed the slam with a piece on her theatre community. It was a place she felt one with after her parents’ divorce, and ultimately inspired her to pursue her passion of writing; where she has control of her destiny and finds her truest sense of self.

    In only an hour and a half, I learned a tremendous amount about five strangers, three classmates, and two acquaintances. Here I witnessed brilliant storytelling that all somehow managed to weave into one spectacular story about identity while still zeroing in on each speaker’s story. There was a beautiful vulnerability throughout the theatre that made for a night of magic that would not have been possible without these amazing GrubStreet writers and Suffolk students who made me so proud as they bared a part of their souls so that maybe the audience members would be provoked to the point of questioning where they came from too.

-Marianna Moulis

Norah Dooley: Coordinator, Emcee, Coach

Just a few weeks ago, our story slam coordinator and emcee Norah Dooley, stopped by for a class visit. Sporting a warm and welcoming smile, Dooley took hold of her clicker, and wasted no time diving into her spiel on how we all have a story to tell, enthusiastically stating “we’re hardwired for that!” Dooley all the while conjured up some sort of joke that members of the class couldn’t help but chuckle at. Closer to the end of her presentation, Dooley evoked some class participation, beckoning us all to close our eyes, and to picture somewhere we think of when we hear the phrase “where I am from,” just to properly acquaint us with this year’s story slam theme. Meandering through all five senses, Dooley, in a cool, calm voice inquired: “What do you see to right? If you reach out and touch it, what does it feel like? Is it rough? Cold? Hot?” After being instructed to open our eyes, we were then challenged to tell our story to the person sitting closest to us in one minute. Of course a majority of us however, were unwilling to quit, even when Dooley called time, which was proof that Dooley’s pitch on storytelling was nothing far from the truth. Left fascinated by all that Dooley’s class visit had to offer, we caught up with Dooley, curious to know more about what stories she has to tell.

Now a storytelling course professor at Lesley University, as well as a professor at Tufts University’s Experimental College, Dooley says that twenty-five years ago, she never would have thought that she’d be a storyteller. “I was getting a degree in Creative Arts and learning, and I wanted to take a theater course as an elective my senior year, but they didn’t offer any.” Dooley’s mentors then nudged her in the direction of a storytelling course, and well, the rest is history. “I love it! It’s something very one of a kind, I’m always excited to hear other people’s stories, and it’s always fascinating to me what people bring.” Dooley is also a visiting author, and frequents homeless shelters, centers that host retirees, and youth developmental institutions.

When asked what advice she has for others who may want to get into storytelling, she replied: “Tell your story to just one other person, go to open mics, and remember to be engaged and present in the moment, and think only about the experience you’re talking about!”
Come out to Suffolk University’s story slam, and see what Dooley, some of Suffolk’s student storytellers, and what some GrubStreet storytellers have to offer, on Friday at 7 pm at the Modern Theater.

-Janaye Kerr

A Suffolk Storyteller

On Friday, April 22nd Suffolk University will partner with GrubStreet to hold a Story Slam. The Slam will begin at 7 pm in the Modern Theater on Washington St. and will feature 5 storytellers from the GrubStreet writers and 5 students from Suffolk as storytellers.

I sat down with one of the Suffolk storytellers to talk about the upcoming slam.

Janaye Kerr is a Freshman from Suffolk University from Jamaica.

She told me that she “has always been interested in people that go up and do spoken word and has always wanted to try but she has been too quiet and shy to try.” Since this event is being put on by our class Janaye thought that it would be the perfect opportunity “to get acquainted with the mic.”

Even though she is looking forward to it, Janaye is extremely nervous to get up on stage on April 22nd. “But at the end of the day I know it is going to be a really welcoming environment and I am excited to do it,” Janaye said after exclaiming how scared she was. We have learned that the literary world is very supportive of one another, so I know that Janaye will be received with incredible support when she goes up on stage.

I asked Janaye if she knew what story she was going to tell or where she would take it. Since the theme of the slam is “Where Am I From” Janaye will be starting in Jamaica, her birthplace, however, “it’s not exactly [going to be] about the place.” It’ll be about her family and how all of that was the beginning of who she is now.

Janaye told me that Nora Dooley is the one who really made it possible for her to do this. Ms. Dooley is an author, storyteller, and Cofounder of Massmouth, a company that puts on story slams. Talking to Nora and hearing about her experience storytelling, Janaye knew that she wanted to participate in this slam.

Since the slam will be a competition between Suffolk and GrubStreet I asked Janaye how she thought our students were going to do against the “professionals.” Since Suffolk has such a diverse student body with many talents, our students should hold their own. I believe that the Suffolk stories will be rawer than the pros, making them more emotional and definitely easier to connect with for our classmates.

Janaye is ready and exciting to be performing at her first ever story slam on April 22nd. Come to the Modern Theater at 7 pm to hear her  story. Personally, I am so excited to hear Janaye speak and to learn about where she is from and how she got to where she is today!

 

-Morgan Robb

Boston’s Literary District

Cultural districts are essential to building communities for people who share similar passions. According to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a cultural district is “a compact, walkable area of a community with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets.” Literature is just one of such cultures. For example, The Boston Literary District states that Boston is the first city in the country to dedicate an entire district to literature. The website further explains that the location of the Boston Literary District is from Copley Square to Downtown Boston. Suffolk University is proud to be part of this district with the Rosalie Stahl Center at the Mildred F. Sawyer Library. It would behoove any Suffolk student to familiarize themselves with the Rosalie Stahl Center, because getting to know University/Local libraries is one aspect of being a literary citizen. In addition to the Salamander literary journal, the Rosalie Stahl Center is home to the Clark Collection of African American Literature, according to the Boston Literary District.

The Boston Literary District hosts a number of wonderful events. One event that Suffolk is particularly excited about is the “Where I am From” Story Slam happening on Friday, April 22nd. Suffolk will be alongside GrubStreet writers sharing their origins. Admission is free for The Grub Street and Suffolk community. For readers who aren’t associated those two organizations, tickets are $10 for regular admissions and $5 for students. This event is highly recommended. These stories are from true and personal experiences, and for anyone to do so in front of an audience is nothing short of valiant and amazing.

 

Even though that event is over a week and a half away, there are other events to attend in the meantime for those eager to be a literary citizen. There will be two events as early as tomorrow, April 13th. From 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. the Records Manager for the Boston Police Department, Margaret R. Sullivan, will “draw on documents available online to review specific cases and discuss her efforts to use city employment records to flesh out the later lives of the 1,170 Boston police officers who went out on strike in 1919,” says the Boston Literary District.

The other event is a Tribute to C.D. Wright, which will take place from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. During this time attendees will listen to live readings of Wright’s work. An award winning poet, Wright received the National Book Critics Circle Award for One With Others, says the Poetry Foundation. The Boston Literary District also adds that Wright was chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and received the MacArthur Fellowship Award.   

Besides immersing yourself in literary events, the best part of the two aforementioned activities is that they are free. You read that right, folks. Becoming a literary citizen in your community is a rewarding experience that is completely affordable. Aside from the story slam, the Boston Literary District has a number of other events that are completely free.

In addition to attending these events there are a number of other’s way to get involved in Boston’s Literary District. Aspiring authors, or anyone who is passionate about literature, are all potential candidates . Remember that reading and writing are both important parts of being a literary citizen, but becoming actively involved in literary events is also extremely important. Finding other people who are passionate about literature will expose literary citizens to new authors, presses, and literary journals. Reading from a variety of genres and cultures will also help literary citizens broaden their horizons, but most importantly, it will build friendships and communities.

 

Jackie Strom

Class of 2018

Support Your Local Poet

My creative writing teacher from high school always said poetry was written to be read aloud. I never really understood what she meant until I attended Melissa Green and Meg Tyler’s poetry reading this past Wednesday night for my Literary Citizenship class.

I’ve always had an interest in poetry since I was a child and my mother would read me Shel Silverstein before bed. This interest soon developed into a love for writing and numerous afternoons spent writing pages of pose both good and bad. Since I already liked the subject, and didn’t want to stress about finding the time to attend a literary event at the end of the semester, this seemed like the perfect time for me to buck up and write a blog post for the class blog. Prior to attending this event I had little to no idea what to expect. I’d never heard of either of these poets and a google search procured few helpful results. I had also never been to a poetry reading before. I had a multitude of questions: What do I wear? Should I snap once they finish reading or was that just a gross cliché? Would I know anyone there? Should I prepare questions to ask? Where even is the poetry center?

Basically I was clueless, but I’ve found that when I have no expectations I usually end up having the best time. With all these thoughts running through my head I donned my best turtleneck, grabbed my notebook and glasses, and made my way up to the poetry center on the second floor of the Sawyer library (located in 73 Tremont).

I found the room easily enough, following another student who looked like the type that would be attending a poetry reading, and settled for a seat in the back. The room was filled with teachers from the English department but a few students were scattered amongst the crowd. There was free coffee in the back which I was endlessly thankful for, having a large amount of homework waiting for me back in my dorm.

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The night kicked off with Meg Tyler who read from her collection of poems titled Poor Earth. Each piece was breathtaking in its own right with clear, concise imagery. Her poems had a lot of movement to them and an immense amount of power behind them despite their simplicity. I’m always in awe of the way poets can pull at your heart with the simplest lines. One of her poems, I regretfully forget the name, was about picking up her daughter from school. There was a part where her daughter exits the school and looks around fearfully like she expected her mother to be missing from the crowd but Tyler exclaimed, “I am always there”. A simple line in itself but it reminded me of a story my mom tells about when I was in preschool. I, allegedly, would beg her to wait in the parking lot so she be there on time when I was done. That kind of innocent fear that a mother might not come back is heartbreaking but still resonated heavily with my own life. Tyler in herself was incredibly charming with a soft voice and a slight accent. Her pieces had a melancholy sense to them, even the happy ones.

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Up next was Melissa Green who read from her collection Magpiety. Her poems pulled me in from the get go. They were heavy with imagery, language, and embedded meaning but didn’t feel sluggish. The pacing was impeccable and I never lost interest, which I tend to do when pieces get too wordy. Her piece “Phi” was my favorite poem of the whole night specifically due to the lines, “I wish I’d known about the Golden Mean, / that my over brimming heart was a nautilus, / and not alone, and had poured out love everywhere, / for Fibonacci so long ago had made me his, / and I was part of the world, and known, and loved / to the smallest coral moon on my smallest fingernail”. I connected a lot with this piece also, having recently starting school at Suffolk. This year especially I feel like I’ve had to learn a lot of lessons about self-love. One lesson in particular is about how to be alone but not feel lonely which is easier said than done at times. This piece seems to me to focus deeply on self-acceptance and realizing that just because you don’t have the ideal life does not mean you do not lead an important life. Green’s work was so amazing that I ended up buying a copy of her book once the reading had finished.

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In addition to the wonderful poetry the one thing that struck me was the amount of love in the room that night. There was an outpouring of support for each other that rivals anything I’ve ever seen. It takes a great deal of bravery to publish pieces, specifically poetry, and an even greater deal to read your work aloud to others you know well. It’s easy to talk about literary citizenship, what it means and how to do your share but I without a doubt witnessed literary citizenship in action that night. There was, as I said before, an immense amount of support produced from the crowd and it was powerful to see.

Attending this reading reminded me why I originally fell in love with poetry. It wasn’t because of the authors’ masterful use of language. It was because poems can do in a few short lines what some authors take a whole book to accomplish. Poets grab your attention from the first words and simple lines like “I am always there” can pull you back to stories that took place years in the past. They’re easy to identify with and can quickly put into words feelings you may not have known you were currently feeling. I’m incredibly happy I ended up attending this literary event and I’m definitely looking forward to attend several more!

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Check out Meg Tyler’s collection here!

Check out Melissa Green’s collection here!

………………

Kayla O’Regan

Suffolk 2019

Mark Harris and Nick Ut: Raw Perspectives

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March 1st. 10 a.m. C.Walsh Theatre, Suffolk University.

Two men, 60+ students, professors. Photographs. Furthermore, memories stored in grainy film, portraits captured in vivid light, full moons casting a shadow on passing airplanes.

Two men, hundreds of pictures, hundreds of thousands of words.

Two men, millions of memories.

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Mark Harris and Nick Ut, both professionally equipped and wonderfully talented photographers, made guest appearances at Suffolk University on Tuesday morning. As an amateur photographer myself, this immediately caught my eye. However, attending this lecture and listening to the stories beyond these photographs set a fire within me… I was touched.

Photography is a world of its own, and is often overlooked. Photography is a culture and an occupation that is beginning to hold less credibility because everyone and their brother has an iPhone. The social media world and the accessibility of the common phone camera creates a falsehood about photography that is, quite honestly, insulting and disappointing. One can capture various foods, various outfits, various moments in time with the click of a button. Yet, I ask you, is the quality the same? Is the work put into it the same as one of Harris or Ut?

My honest answer is absolutely freaking not. It’s easy and enjoyable to take pictures, and some iPhone pictures are beautiful– I will give credit where it is due. It does, however, take a special eye and a certain dedication to capture the moments and photographs that Harris and Ut do. Their photographs are raw, they’re honest, they tell a million stories in one, they are beautiful and disturbing and nightmarish and daydreamy and wonderful but horrible ALL AT ONCE. Their photography matters, it means something to people. They take risks and often prove that those risks were worth taking.

The lecture was for anyone that was remotely interested in photography or either Harris’ or Ut’s work. Harris asked, of the room’s occupancy, how many people were photography majors– and only one or two people raised their hands. The crowd was diverse in majors, interests, and perspectives. Yet we all came together with a common goal: to take a piece of these men’s seemingly never-ending wisdom.

The lecture began with a quick introduction of Mark Harris. Harris mainly shoots in North Korea, a country often burdened with a negative connotation. He shoots daily life in North Korea to show that regardless of its reputation, it also has its beauty and normalcy. Harris has been to eight of the nine provinces in North Korea and has experienced many things the average tourist has not. Harris, a middle aged man dressed in a navy blue scoop-necked sweater with an engaging tone of voice and a pleasant disposition addressed the crowd.

He showed the ins and the outs of tourist attractions and even pictured a photograph of the border of South Korea and North Korea: it was black and white with beautiful contrast in the photo itself; but the true contrast was the back-to-back soldiers from each of the countries. Both looked tense and on-edge. One could literally read their faces just by looking at the picture. He then showed a series of pictures of the border again, but this time from a wider angle. In front of crowds, there was a South Korean soldier, tense and poised to combat at any moment. Next, he showed the bare grounds without any tourists or crowds: the South Korean soldier was gone. The soldier did this strictly for show. In Harris’ powerpoint slide he showed various places and photographs of people that looked like they were consciously enjoying themselves. By this I mean that the people pictured are conscious of the fact that every day, at any moment, something could go wrong. They’re aware of the potential danger around them… Harris described this as “bunker mentality.”

The lesson I learned from Harris’ portion of the lecture was that media is wrong, dramatic, and ridiculous. America paints an awful picture of North Korea and gives them a bad reputation… And although their government is aggressively controlling, to say the least, and although there is conflict among the nation, it is also quite normal. “There are real issues with North Korea just like there are real issues all around the world,” Harris exclaimed, trying to help the audience understand North Korea’s situation. There are families and children and beautiful landscapes and the city of Seoul is amazing. It is a functioning nation and it is not all bad. Anywhere you go in this world truly has its good and bad. Take a look around– we live in a city. There are good people and good objectives, and there are bad people with bad interests. Anywhere you go, you are at risk– but that does not make life worse or give life itself inadequate credibility. It was interesting because Harris took a picture of an Anti-America propaganda postcard and it truly opened my eyes to the prospect that, wow, America isn’t perfect! That sounds silly, but seriously– America is not always 100% right in its actions. People tend to forget about that. Harris’ wonderful pictures capture truth and I admire them deeply.

Many people know of Nick Ut specifically because of his photo “The Napalm Girl” which he captured approximately 43 years ago.

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Ut captured this photo as bombs were going off in Vietnam. This girl was naked, running through the streets, severely burned. The terror in all of these children’s faces says enough; they were terrified, they were in pain, they were innocent and unsure how to cope with the incident that had just occurred. However, the public reacted to this like an electric current and this photo alone helped to jumpstart the end of the Vietnam War. Ut was awarded the Pulitzer prize because of the Napalm Girl photograph’s impact on society.

His portion of the lecture began with a short video showing actual footage of the events leading up to his famous photograph. The audience gaped as the recording camera was running behind the children, running close to them and seeing firsthand the massive burns on their sides. The girl in the photograph’s arm was mangled and the terror in all of their faces was enough to give me chills. The children went up to Nick Ut and his photographer companion screaming. Apparently they were saying “too hot, too hot, I’m going to die.” Nick’s companion poured water into Kim Phuc (the girl pictured)’s mouth and then onto her burns. This soothed her for a certain amount of time. They tried to help as much as they could. I can’t imagine being in this position or place in time… Mere seconds before Kim had run up to Nick Ut, he had snapped the photograph that would change people’s lives. He was simply doing his job and suddenly, with the literal click of a button, created an attachment to a girl and a photograph that no other human would ever have– or understand, for that matter. Ut and Phuc’s relationship has remained throughout the years, especially directly following the photo’s incessant publicity. Kim needed support and the way I interpreted it was that Ut was one of the only people who could understand what she had been through. He  captured what she had been through, and though it was scary and disheartening to look at, it was an honest moment in time that Kim had experienced. It was real.

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Ut’s history as a renowned photographer does not end there– he has been working for the Associated Press (known as AP) for 50+ years. He has worked in Hanoi, Los Angeles, Tokyo. He became famous because of the Napalm Girl, but in the discussion, he showed a 21 minute&50 second video showcasing other work of his. The video went through hundreds of his photographs, some from that awful day captured in Napalm, some from LA, some from random excursions in random places. His work is so incredible. I tried to capture it above, but I was one slide off– however, previous to the slide of the girl tanning in her bikini was another picture of a girl tanning in a bikini– right in the middle of a graveyard. The perspective was amazing because there were dozens of crosses and gravestones around her and there she was, soaking up the sun in her plum-colored bikini looking pleasant as ever. It was slightly disturbing to see and made me respect Ut so much for being able to capture so many feelings in a single photograph.

Something I noticed in Ut’s work is that a lot of it, though Hollywood-y and starstruck in his later years working in LA, is still eerie. I don’t know if I feel this way because my brain had the bombing photos engrained in it, or if they truly were slighty disturbing. There were photographs of stars like Paris Hilton and Michael Jackson and others of whom I do not remember their names. These people looked sad and lost and confused. There was one grainy photograph of a man crying and simultaneously smoking a cigarette, though he was well-dressed and looked very kept up in his wealth. Ut captures such deep and imminent emotion in his photography and I was thoroughly impressed with his ability to capture the deep sadness and irony of Hollywood– money and fame does not always bring happiness. I think that Ut can capture this because of his past experiences with photography and life– he has photographed children that died in their mother’s arms seconds after the photo was taken. He’s witnessed pain and grieved for people he did not know. He empathizes with all and captures raw emotions because he feels them, too, as his photographs are being taken. To be able to feel something so strongly and at the same time capture those emotions in a single photograph is something that I strive to do one day.

Ut ended his presentation with six or seven beautiful photographs of a full moon with airplanes flying overhead. I was wracking my brains, trying to figure out “why” he had put these in at such a specific time, what the significance of the airplanes are, what his intentions were. After reflecting for a long time, I believe that he implemented those photographs as a way of closing up his slideshow with hope and grace: full moons are in cycles. The moon waxes, it wanes, its phases change and yet it’s always there. The full moon is at its brightest and most evident, yet when it’s a sliver of a crescent moon it is still present. Memories captured in Ut’s photographs are forever present– the photograph of Kim Phuc will be a memory in everyone’s lives forever. The moments captured in Ut’s photos are memories that are permanent.

People change and times change and life keeps going, life keeps waxing and waning and sometimes we’re at our brightest and other times we feel as if we’re barely a sliver. Photographers like Mark Harris and Nick Ut prove to us, and remind us, that memories matter. That moments in time should be captured, that we are all in existence for something. The world of photography needs to be maintained; rising photographers need to implement emotion into their work, they need to take risks and follow in Harris and Ut’s footsteps.

I hope to make a difference one day in my own creative pathway, much like the differences that these two men with hundreds of pictures, thousands of words,and millions of memories.

IMG_9042Meagan Dreher