“What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?”
“This is not advice, but it has certainly stuck with me. A professor of mine at Lafayette told me in 1978 that if I wanted to become a writer I could do it—that I had the ability if I wanted to put in the work. That came back to me in the ’90s when I decided to give it a try, and it was important to me that he’d said that because I respected him. Writers need people they respect to believe in them. Leslie Epstein always believed in me, and it got me through some low points that people I respected supported me and what I was trying to do. My friend Chris Walsh sent “The Old Priest” to Keith Botsford at The Republic of Letters after it was turned down by a dozen top journals—and that led to the Pushcart. Any artist needs to have support. Even Emily Dickinson, who was so little understood in her own time, had Thomas Wentworth Higginson. One person was enough for her to get by with. So I’ll give some advice to writers just starting out: You can’t do it all by yourself. Whatever you write, somebody, somewhere, has got to respond.”
— Anthony Wallace
Taken from an interview by Rob Jacklosky, editor of the literary site Bloom, posted July 28, 2014.
This year’s issue of the WR journal is dedicated in loving memory to our dear colleague Tony Wallace, a committed teacher and writer who gave so much of that needed response to a countless number of students. He also inspired the creation of a new award in his honor titled: The Tony Wallace Award for Writing Excellence. He encouraged aspiring writers whose essays year after year have earned a place within the WR. Issue 10 is no exception: Claire Howard’s paper, “Howl As Literary Montage: Cinema’s Influence on the Beat Generation,” will be the last WR essay to have been guided by Professor Wallace’s inspirational teaching.
Unique in their diverse topics and approach, the essays in this year’s WR showcase the Boston University undergraduate experience in the Writing Program. Although they differ in their subject content, all WR seminars have common goals and lead students through a sequence of assignments that emphasize a process of planning, drafting, and revising based on feedback from their classmates and instructor. Our courses teach that writing is a way not only to express what you have to say but also to critically question and evaluate it. We encourage students to consider the following questions: Who is my target audience? How should I structure my writing to engage, inform, persuade, or even entertain my audience? How can I locate and evaluate sources wisely and use them effectively and responsibly? How can I clearly express my ideas?
This year, we received 500 submissions and ultimately selected 12 essays that best exemplify the goals of the Writing Program. Among our 12 selections for publication are four essays of a non-academic genre, which speaks to the exciting evolution of our program.
It was extremely difficult to decide which of these 12 impressive works would receive prizes because they are all excellent and worthy of distinction. The Tony Wallace Award for Writing Excellence went to Mari Rooney’s “‘Fall’n in the practice of a damned slave’: Racial Ideology and Villainy in Shakespeare’s Othello.” Her research explores the racial discourse that surrounded Renaissance England.
We have also awarded prizes to the following essays. Hallie Lazaro’s “The Life Cycle of A Tree: A Cultural Journey” belongs to the alternative genre category and is a collection of poetry. It begins with a critical introduction that investigates the ties immigrants bring with them to the United States and creates an argument through poetry of the struggles immigrants face and the lasting power of culture.
Miranda Melici’s “Representations of Mental Illness on FOX and CNN: The Parkland Shooting,” tackles the false connections between gun violence and mental illness promulgated by the media.
Yun Li’s “Fighting Against Tribalism” discusses how globalization ignites a surge of cultural homogenization that poses a threat to minority languages and cultures. Li was a student in our WR 098 course that is specifically designed for multilingual writers.
The opportunity to share and engage in thoughtful discussion, planning, and reasoning with our peers creates a closer community within the Writing Program and develops an environment for true collaboration and innovative writing teaching for our students. I feel fortunate to have been a part of this process and to have contributed to this showcase of our students’ talent and the leadership and fine teaching that so inspires them. But as I write this note, it feels bittersweet because it comes with a goodbye to a friend whose instruction often helped to fill these pages. I am sure I am not alone in feeling that the WR journal will not be the same. With so much gratitude we say goodbye, dear Tony, and thank you. Thank you for your responses, for your teaching, your writing, and, most importantly, for your friendship.