Song of Rachel Silverman

Hey there! I’m a UMW graduate (2016) and I’m taking this class for FUN and also as a prereq to become a licensed English teacher in Vermont. Here’s why I chose this picture:

The Uniform
I’m wearing a uniform for AmeriCorps NCCC, a 10-month long program during which I’ve travelled around the southwestern U.S. to work on community service projects in partnership with nonprofit organizations. This uniform has endured far too much: I have worn it undergoing the incredible heat of a Tyvek suit on a Texas Hurricane Harvey relief project, experiencing nearly unbearable cold in a Missouri basement replacing floor joists (see pic), digging trails in the Ozarks, and currently farming and teaching nutrition education cooking classes to kids in Arkansas. It’s a little embarrassing how shabby I look at this point, but my uniform represents more than its grimy exterior: every stain, tear, paint splatter and lost button represents individual experiences during the past year that empowered me, built my confidence, and taught me invaluable skills.

The Stance
I’m communicating with a teammate about our strategy to insert, raise, and shim the joist we just cut with our favorite circ saw (it had a cute little flashlight on it so it was easier to see where the saw blade was actually going in the darkness of the basement. 🙂 I’m sure it was as unsafe as it sounds). My stance represents confidence regarding something that I only recently learned. I am a small woman and I can lift a 16′ 2×8 on my own and use 5 types of electric saws to help replace a floor; in this picture, I don’t shy away from showing it.

The Realization
To be perfectly frank, one of the reasons I joined NCCC was because I was furious at this country for a variety of reasons, and I acknowledged that it was wrong and unproductive to hold such region-specific resentments (regarding political and ideological affiliations, specifically). So I decided to live among those who I thought I resented, serving some of their struggling communities. This has helped me better understand countless people with whom I disagree and whose opinions I now feel empowered to try to impact rather than to demonize.

So this is my “frontispiece.” As I strive toward becoming a humble activist, I learn that it requires the combination of compassion for others and the awareness, willingness and courage to defend and work toward the ideals I find vital to this world. I’m the first to acknowledge that I haven’t achieved this goal yet, but this image represents another step toward doing so.

I’m adding an extra picture of me so my new friends here know what I look like when I’m not freezing my butt off on construction sites. 🙂 Here I am hugging a yarn-bombed tree.



Song of Christine Houchins

Hello everyone, my name is Christine Houchins and I am a senior at UMW. I am an English major and hope to return to UMW after graduating to work on my master’s in education. I have no prior knowledge of either of these authors, but I have heard many students praise Professor Scanlon for her teaching. This is the first time I have ever taken a summer class or an online class; however, after reading and listening to a few of the items posted by Professor Scanlon, I am both excited and a little scared to delve into the importance of these two authors.

The first reason I chose this image is because of the things that are on and around me. My hat contains the image of human footprints next to dog footprints with the words “Happy Together.” As for my shirt, it reads “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” Anyone who knows me knows that I love dogs. I wanted to display proudly that I am a “crazy dog lady.” If you look close enough you can see a small detail on my left ring finger. I have been happily married for about a little over a year and a half now. My husband encourages me with school and is as excited as I am to almost be finished. Additionally, I appreciate that I am outside for this photo. When I am not working or doing homework, my husband and I enjoy taking our dog on walks. I can relate to the Romanticists in their want to commune with nature for inspiration and to refresh. I may have to do just that at some point this semester.

The second reason I chose this image is because it shows the full length of my body and a confident facial expression. I am both short and thin, but I am also assured and casual. Many people are surprised to find out that such a little person can have the personality that I do. I am quite the sassy person and I tend to lean on the side of brutally honest to those that need it. At the same time, I like to keep things casual. Such contradictions as this are mimicked in my stance. That being said, I hold myself to high academic standards and tend to come off more professional in my coursework.

Good luck this semester!

Song of Cj

Hey all!

I’m Clarence Thomas, but most folks just call me Cj.

I agonized over choosing a picture for this assignment– must have spent five whole minutes just pouring over pictures of myself, trying to find one that I think sums me up nicely. This is the one I settled on, a picture of me taken by my father right after walking across the stage and grabbing my diploma. (“But why,” you may ask “if you’ve graduated, are you in this course?” Well, keep reading. I’ll get there. It’s a thrilling story, for sure.)

Why did I settle on this picture? I have 3 reasons.

  1. The sheer expression of delight and joy on my face. This might be the most genuinely happy I’ve ever looked in a picture? Like, look at those crinkles on my face. Those can’t be faked. That’s the smile of a man who is smiling from the heart. I’m a very happy-go-lucky type of guy, and I feel that this picture captures that. (At least 75% of the smile is due to the fact that I didn’t trip while walking across the stage.)
  2. My hair sticking out from underneath my graduation cap. Yes, even dressed in a cap and gown, I still look slightly messy. Well, “messy” might be the wrong word here, but it’s the only one that came to mind. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I clean up nicely, if given the chance? (I also think it’s kind of funny that the graduation cap tassel makes it look like I have long greasy hair in the back, which is definitely not me. A terrifying thought, me with greasy long hair.
  3. My thumbs up. The more I stare at this picture, the weirder and weirder that my hand and arm looks. Maybe it’s the fact that the edge of my cap and my thumb are in line with one another. I dunno, it just looks neat.

Okay, so I did promise earlier an answer to the “why are you in this class” question. I’m an English major. Although I have enough credit hours, my major GPA wasn’t up to snuff for me to officially get my degree. Senioritis is a real thing, y’all. Anyways, I was able to walk, which I thank God for, but I have to boost my GPA in order to officially graduate over the summer, so I figured that the best way to do this would be to take this course. It helps a lot that Dr. Scanlon is my advisor/guardian angel/just the best. I can’t wait to dive headfirst into the works of Walt and Emily. It’s going to be a blast.

Song of Bailey Dolloff

Hi everyone.

I live in Hawthorne Florida in a house 30 minutes from town, off several dirt roads, secured by a gate, a chain, and a no trespassing sign.  Despite my slight disdain for civilization, I’m not completely reclusive; I live with my boyfriend, our cat WeeWee,  and lots of plants. The yard is home to a swarm of jellyfish, in the form of metal artworks the artistic landlord was cool enough to leave. I also share the property with some unwanted guests, including armadillos who so rudely mutilate the yard with their holes, fire ants, and mosquitoes. I don’t let them crush my spirits though!

We have the beginning of a garden which I’m extremely excited to expand upon. There’s still lots more to plant, including purple basil (as pictured), peaches, blueberries, eggplant, potatoes, and sunflowers. We have plans to make a robotic remote-control lawn-mower (in progress) because mowing the lawn is no fun (also, because we can add a camera to the mower and get some great videos, or chase away intrudors with it should the need arise).

I like to spend my time going on walks on a nearby trail, taking pictures of flowers, ferns, snails, frogs, and such, drawing surreal nature-inspired pictures, or writing science fiction and fantasy stories. As I attempt my childhood dream career of artist-writer, I am also looking an occupation that actually pays money. I’m hoping to make use of my psychology degree and be an activity director for institutionalized people or people in rehabilitation programs.

My typical disposition is one of confusion. Life is confusing. Why do so few questions have straight forward answers?

Song of Jordan

I’m not sure how anyone else felt about this assignment, but for me it was difficult. How am I supposed to pick a singular photograph to encapsulate all the twenty years I’ve lived through? Do I pick something recent? Something serious? How do I choose?

I think at the end of the day, we all want to choose a photo we look good in—I’m no exception here—but I also think that if I chose a photo simply because I thought I looked nice, I’d be letting Whitman down. So as much as I want this photo to be my frontispiece, it’s not a good representation of who I am. It tells you nothing of my life story, and there’s nothing particularly me about it. Much like Dr. Lorentzen says, there’s nothing inherent about a table that makes us call it a table, so why not call it a fraudulator? There’s nothing about this photo that screams me, so what’s the point in picking it?

No, to pick an image that speaks to what it is to be me, I needed something that fit into three guidelines.

  1. The photo had to have been taken outside. I’m pretty outdoorsy and would much rather be out hiking than ever inside.
  2. I had to be smiling. I wait tables to pay for school and one question I’m always getting is, “Are you ever sad?” The first time I heard it, it was weird and off-putting, but the question has grown on me because even if I am, I don’t show it                                                                                                                                                                  AND                                                                                                  
  3. I didn’t want to be the main focus. This may be my frontispiece, but if I chose a photo of which I am the central focus, I’d be lying to you all. I’m not one to stand out from the crowd—I could go without the extra attention. Rather, I’m inspired by the transcendentalist time. The era of Emerson and Thoreau where people are not the focal point, but instead the agents of action in a backdrop of change.

With all of that being said, I landed on this photo:

one of me on a hike, smiling broadly, standing behind a tree (a photograph which weirdly fits all my criteria to a t).

So I guess that leaves this:

Hello all!

My name is Jordan Barker. I’m a vegetarian. I like trees, and sunshine, warm weather, and long sleeves.

Nice to meet you.

Song of Andria Theodorou

Hello Professor Scanlon and fellow Whitman and Dickinson classmates!

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Andria Theodorou.  I was born in the greek island of Cyprus (which is located below Turkey and next to Syria) where I lived with my parents, my mom who is American and my dad who is a native-born Cypriot, until they divorced in 2011 where I completed and obtained my high school diploma with honors.  I am currently a junior here at UMW. I transferred here from Germanna community college after having graduated with honors as ‘summa cum laude’ with my Associate’s degree in General studies.I am currently enrolled in this class not only because I have a fierce passion for poetry, and this class is entirely online and asynchronous which gives us the opportunity to have access to our online texts, Canvas and our Voice Thread commentary which allows us to facilitate in-depth online analysis online through discussion just as we would in a regular classroom setting. In this particular picture that I have attached along with this post,  I am wearing my absolute favorite diamond hoop earring’s at my cousin’s birthday celebration, my opaque cross which is somewhat hidden in the picture, a gold watch, and I am wearing a salmon-pink blouse, my nails are painted pink, with my hands folded and placed in a delicate manner on the table , and I have a huge smile on my face which clearly captures me in a relaxed environment enjoying  in this particular moment in celebrating my cousin’s birthday. I feel that our clothing and fashion style are a reflection of ourselves, and who we are as individuals. I am a huge fan of clothing that involves colors that are red or pink as I feel these brighten’s one’s complexions and are also aesthetically pleasing to the eyes are you are literally drawn to the vibrant rich colors. Also jewelry as with any accessory is also a reflection of one’s own character, me in particular for example I enjoy wearing gold, whether it be my watch in this picture. I also enjoy wearing diamond earrings because when the light reflects on them they sparkle and glisten, which is an attractive quality to have in earrings.

Another fun fact about me is that I enjoy music (all types of genre’s including Opera, RnB, pop, rock, reggae, latin, Bollywood, etc. pretty much every genre of music I love). I also enjoy singing, whether it be acapella or singing karaoke in a restaurant or bar.  Another fact about me is that I have a Miniature Pincher/Norfolk-terrier mix named Coco who is now four years old, whom I adopted when I was in my senior year of high-school when I was eighteen. I also love and have a deep passion for reading novels, particularly science fiction, fantasy-romance novels, period novels such as Jane Austen (especially Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, etc.) and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

I am looking forward to a great semester in this class and hope to learn alot about Whitman and Dickinson throughout this semester, as this is the absolute first semester in which I have ever taken a poetry class and I wish us all good luck in the upcoming weeks ahead!

Song of Joy

Hello there, people of Whitman and Dickinson!

My name is Joy Lopes. Technically, my first name is Maria, but I go by my middle name, Joy. I was born and raised here in Fredericksburg , Virginia, so UMW has always been just around the corner. I am a Senior here at the good old U of MW, studying English Literature, and am slowly developing senior-itis. If you are wondering what that’s like as an English Major, just picture a combination of sleep-deprivation and rapidly declining eyesight, and you’re half-way there!

I am taking this course to fulfill one of my English 300 requirements. I am also taking it because it was one of the online English options, and also because I have yet to take a solely poetry course! If I thought that meant less reading, boy was I wrong… I recognize that this is a very demanding course, as are most 5-week Summer term courses, but I hope I am up to the challenge! I am looking forward to delving into the content of these renowned authors and understanding how and why they wrote so prolifically. I have not read much of either, but the bits and pieces I have read made me intrigued by this course offering. Also, I’ve been hoping to have the chance to study under Dr. Scanlon before I leave UMW, so I saw this as a great opportunity!

In my free-time (haha, wow, it almost sounded like I have such a thing there for a minute) I love to read and write (Really? As an English major? Shocking.) I write some poetry, but mostly prose about life and my faith. I am a Christian and believe that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation, and the sole source of peace and joy in life and in death. My faith is the basis of my worldview, so it heavily affects my opinion and interpretation of literature, which I recognize will set me apart in many discussions. I look forward to tackling differences and disagreements though, because I’ve noticed in my courses that such disagreements often deepen the discussion and necessitate far more meaningful analysis of the text for us as students. I also love to sing, write music, play piano, and paint when I get the chance (which is code for I have mounds of paint supplies and very little to show for it…)

Lastly, to comment on my “frontispiece,” there really isn’t much to say… Any photo featuring me and food is pretty encapsulating of my “song.” Also, I am wearing my favorite shirt (and you can’t tell, but also my favorite pants), which features another key part of me, flowers and lace. I’m known for my floral patters, what can I say? Also, I happen to be wearing my favorite earrings in this photo… If they’re large and colorful, they’re probably hanging from my ears. I like to make a statement with my clothing, and the statement is that I like pretty things and patterns make me happy. God gave us a rainbow of color, so I say we wear it!

Here’s to a great 5 weeks (and prayers we survive them…)!


Welcome to Whitman and Dickinson

You’ve heard of them.  You think you love or hate them. But do you know them?

Even for someone like me who rejects the idea that transcendent creative genius emerges mysteriously and in isolation, it’s hard to account for the experimental, powerful, and unique voices that emerged from these two poets, who are arguably the basis of all American poetry to come. Whitman and Dickinson are often cast in binaries: masculine vs. feminine; epic vs. lyric; brash and publicity-seeking vs. shy and reclusive; political vs. private. These contrasts apply even in their images: he is one of the most photographed people of the 19th century and she avoided the camera, leaving only two known likenesses; he worked in print, typesetting his own manuscripts, and she left thousands of hand-written works, from bound fascicles to lines scrawled on bits of envelope.

But like most binaries, these are fraught and finally unsatisfying.  For both poets also explored the natural world, the relationship between the human and divine, the nature of death, alternative sexualities, violence and grief, and their own roles as poets in a nation painfully forging its own identity. Individually and together, what can these great minds tell us about their world and our own, about the self and about others?  Let’s go.