Finding Freedom and Poetry in One Wellesley Summer
By Nathalie Sieh 2017 Wellesley Exploratory Workshop Participant
I was never interested in writing when I was younger. I actually feared writing for the main reason that I am dyslexic. Numbers had always come easier to me and because of that, I grew up believing that I must not be a good writer. It was not until middle school that I was introduced to poetry, and it was not by a teacher or through my school. Rather, my first encounter to what would soon become everything to me came from my mother.
My mother is very artistic, and in her downtime, she would paint murals or write about her life experiences in a poetic way. She never forced me to read or write anything; yet still, I would read her work and scribble notes of my own. Quickly, I was drawn to the power that words could hold and would find myself spending more and more time writing than anything else. She encouraged me to pursue this newly found interest in poetry and introduced me to many different poets that were neither deterred nor confined by the standard ideals of writing.
I fell in love with my words creating life on the same blank pages that once taunted me. I became a self-taught poet by high school and had a collection of my own. Even so, I never shared my work until I went to One Wellesley Summer’s Pre-College Exploratory Workshop titled “Writing Poetry” this past July. Nine other girls and two highly praised poets (Heather Corbally Bryant, Visiting Lecturer in the Wellesley Writing Program and Lynne Spigelmire Viti, Senior Lecturer in the Wellesley Writing Program) became the first outside support and outward confidence I had in my poetry. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any” - (Alice Walker). For the first time in my life, I finally had a voice for my poetry. I found my voice at Wellesley's Summer Programs and I learned how to speak loudly with it.
The most poignant moment I had in the “Writing Poetry” workshop was when our class reserved the Davis Museum and we were able to walk around in silence to write poetry inspired by other art. This was an excellent activity because we were surrounded by other artists like us, who pour their soul out into their work. One particular sculpture caught my eye. I sped over, plopped myself down in front of it, and the words began to spill out of me as if they had always been there. It was the most beautiful sculpture I have ever seen - the fluorescent light kissing every edge, making it glow. I admired such a marvelous creation for so long that I lost track of time. It was not until much later that I noticed the title of the sculpture: Rape of a Sabine.
At that moment, my whole perspective shifted and I was not writing about what I had thought. I re-read my poem and the whole meaning changed. I realized then that words only have so much power to them. The mind is the strength of the art, not the pen. I did not change a single word because I felt that the impact this change of perspective had on me is one that should be experienced. As the author, I decided to place the title at the end of my poem rather than at the beginning. Those who read my work can experience what I did; they can experience a part of my life, my mind, my soul.
My favorite subject remains mathematics, but poetry has become my freedom. I had been confined and trapped behind bars made of fear and the unknown. But, I was taught at One Wellesley Summer that I was the one who had put the bars up and I had the will-power to take them down; and, I not only took them down, I shattered them. I have been awarded 1 Gold Key, 2 Silver Keys and 1 Honorable Mention from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program, as well as a full-tuition scholarship to any Florida State College for my poetry. I hope to continue to study and craft my art through high school and beyond! Thank you One Wellesley Summer!