Homerski, Ba celebrated at English department event

Category:  The Arts
Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 at 2:55 PM
Homerski, Ba celebrated at English department event by Hazel Modlin
Photo: Hazel Modlin

Students read from chapbook, award-winning collection

Edinboro seniors Livia Homerski and Latif Askia Ba celebrated their writing at the literary event, “For Listeners Who Listen in the Snow: A Celebration of Student Writing Achievement," which was held at 7 p.m. in Alexander Recital Hall on Feb. 21. Homerski, an English writing major, was the recipient of the 2019-20 Chuck Palahniuk Writing Scholarship. Ba, a computer science major with minors in both creative writing and mathematics, was recognized for the recent publication of a chapbook — a small collection of poetry published in book form — called “Wet Monasteries.”

The crowd was sizable; more than three quarters of the seats in Alexander were filled. Homerski and Ba were introduced by Dr. Robert Hass, an English professor at EU. He mentioned that “both are well accomplished and far more mature for their years than they should be.”

It was clear that the English department believes in celebrating their students’ success, as Hass went on to briefly mention two other students who had some accomplishments of their own. Alumna Violet Corwin — a 2019 graduate — was recently accepted with full fellowship into a graduate English program at the University of California-Irvine. Sam Bohen — a current junior at Edinboro — recently received a fellowship to teach creative writing in Denver to high school students over summer 2020.

“We’ve had a lot of good news, and this is kind of the capstone for the good news and all of the hard work and talent of our students and the routine effort that our faculty are exerting to help them along,” said Hass.

Homerski was then invited up on stage, as she presented her collection of writings first. In order to receive the Palahniuk Writing Scholarship, students must submit a portfolio of written work that is then sent to be reviewed by a selection committee. Homerski’s collection was composed entirely of nonfiction, which she proceeded to read out loud at the event. Hass was on the committee and, after Homerski’s reading, told the audience, “Livia was a unanimous decision. There was no dissension among the ranks at all — her work stood out.”

Homerski’s work covered everything from worms writhing around on the sidewalk after a storm, to reflections on the meaning behind hoarding “junk.” She focused on everyday “ordinary” experiences, while also incorporating snippets of humor. “Worms may have several heart chambers, but I unfortunately only have one,” was one of many examples.

Ba was invited on stage immediately after Homerski, with Hass explaining, “It’s almost unheard of for students to publish as undergraduates." For his portion of the event, he read a poem from his chapbook once, and then asked Hass to reread the poem. Ba has cerebral palsy, and he wanted to make sure the audience was able to hear — in Hass’ words — “the energy of the cadence of his beautiful language.”

Ba’s “Wet Monasteries” originated as nothing more than a collection of the poems he had written. While some of the poems were for his classes, most of them were written for fun in his free time. Many of Ba’s poems provide commentary on more serious topics, such as racism and ableism, and his words resonate. An example can be seen in his lines: “a woman. A quintessential black woman. Lost in France, lost in Liberia, lost in Barbados, lost in Philadelphia, in North Carolina too. Lost to the color line.”

Additional Photos:

Photo: Hazel ModlinPhoto: Hazel Modlin
 

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