April 23, 2007

Publication features expressive DC writers

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Being published is quite an achievement – one that several Dassel-Cokato High School students can now claim, since their works were recently featured in a statewide high school publication.

Each year, Bemidji State University’s English Department publishes “New Voices,” a collection of short stories and poetry selected from high school students across Minnesota.

Works this year, were submitted from students in Paul Beckermann and Susan Marco’s expressive writing classes from both this year and last spring and they were, junior Eldon Bekkala, with her poem “The Toad,” senior Emily Berezni, with her short story “When the Going Gets Tough,” senior Nicholas Collins, with his poem “Sinking, Fading . . . Gone,” junior Charles Darland, with his poem “Burnt Toast;” junior Beki Mattson, with her poem “Fishing;” junior Sarah Ryan, with her poem “The Monster,” and senior Matt Tegland, for his poem, “Life.”

Writing, for them, is a way to express themselves, Ryan said.

“If it wasn’t for Mr. Beckermann and Mrs. Marco encouraging us, we wouldn’t have submitted our work,” Berezni said.

Two other students were published in a nation-wide high school newspaper, “The High School Writer,” and they were, senior Arianna Anderson with her short story, “Letting Go” and senior Shannon Harmala with her short story “Finding My Way Home.”

Some enjoy writing more than others, but Anderson enjoys it because writing for her is “free.”

“You’re not limited to what you write,” she said.

What Harmala likes about expressive writing is that everyone has their own writing styles and a person doesn’t have to follow a certain pattern to be right.

Berezni and Collins were asked by Bemidji State University to come and read their writings recently.

That was exciting, Berezni said. She even had little girls asking for her autograph, she said.

Some students plan on pursuing writing as a minor in college, including Collins and Ryan.

Many works are created from a student’s own life experiences, for example Ryan’s “Monster” is a poem about a close friend’s alcoholic father.

Ryan explained how a writer sometimes doesn’t know how good their work really is until it gets published.

“Then it’s like, ‘oh, I guess it is good’,” she said.

Beckermann and Marco say this is great validation for what their students have learned in the classroom.

“It is always great to see kids have success for their academic accomplishments,” Beckermann said.

He also described this accomplishment being just as rewarding to students as if they were in a sport or another competitive activity and going on to state.

For “New Voices,” students are allowed to submit up to three poems, one short story, or one novel excerpt.

The works are then read numerous times by a committee in the Bemidji State University’s English Department, according to Liza Drellack who serves on the fiction board for the book.

More than 1,000 works were submitted this year. “There were too many to count,” Drellack said.

The works are chosen according to originality and content, according to Drellack.

Each edition of “New Voices” has its own theme. This year’s theme was the notion of writing what a person can’t say.

On the cover is a quote from the writer Anais Nin. “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”

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