Into the Classroom: A warm review of one of Eastern’s English classes.

By: Ella Curcuruto

One of the first rules of creative writing is to have a good hook to intrigue your audience. I bet this hook got you interested, didn’t it? Introduction to Creative Writing, taught by Professor Katrina Hayes, is a gem in Eastern’s English department. I took the course this last fall semester, and it was probably the best way I could have started my time here at Eastern. 

The class covered three units: poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. For each genre, we had a chance to submit our original pieces to our in-class workshop groups. We spent time together carefully critiquing and praising each other’s words, delving into the particulars of our peers’ writing. The workshop time was always a fruitful and helpful step in the writing process. My favorite unit was poetry; hearing the beautiful language that my fellow writers presented to our groups was an absolute joy. 

Let’s get down to some particulars. First of all, the homework load was reasonable and in line with the expectations of the class. The workload is entirely manageable and often fun to do! Over the semester, our primary homework assignment was to read chapters from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and write a reading response. 

These responses prompted meaningful in-class conversations on the “creative life” and what that looks like in a specifically Christian context. We also were tasked with reading examples of poetry or short fiction/non-fiction pieces as beautiful examples of what we were striving for in our work. Overall, the class provided a space to allow much-needed creativity into my otherwise busy, regimented life. 

The real joy in taking this class, though, is that it is taught by Professor Katrina Hayes. She is the kindest person I have ever been taught by and has a heart capable of attentive care to all her students. My personal experiences and interactions with her were outstanding. She wrote me a sweet note and included the poem ‘First Lesson’ by Philip Booth as an encouragement after I expressed to her the difficult time I was experiencing in my personal life. But besides this, I noticed how she treated my classmates, giving people special attention when needed and putting extraordinary effort into ensuring everyone felt safe, comfortable, cared for, and on track with their education.

“Creative writing was a wonderful experience for me and was one of my favorite classes this year. The teacher and my peers helped me reclaim my love for poetry, fiction, and everything in between,” fellow classmate and dear friend Thea Dietze said. Nobody was left behind to struggle for themselves in the class; help was always there if needed. 

With this one seemingly run-of-the-mill class, Professor Hayes creates a welcoming, enriching environment that covers a fantastic amount of creative ground. The afternoons I spent in McInnis 105 will remain in my heart and pen for years to come, and I hope you get the experience to share in that as well.

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