Tag Archives: English

Alyssa Hollingsworth PortraitAlyssa Hollingsworth (13C) was already a prolific writer when she arrived at Berry. She further developed her craft through one-on-one interaction with English professors and relevant work experience as editor of the college literary magazine and as a writer for Berry magazine.

This fall, the now-published author returned to Berry as the featured speaker in the David James Poissant Creative Prose Reading Series. While on campus, she visited with former teachers and mentors and shared her talents with current students – praising Berry as the “creative space” that helped to fuel her success.

Five years have passed since the former Gate of Opportunity Scholar earned her Berry degree, during which time she has completed a master’s degree at England’s Bath Spa University and signed a two-book, two-continent publishing contract with Roaring Brook Press (MacMillan) and Piccadilly Press.

Earlier this year, she released her debut novel, The Eleventh Trade, which quickly rose to No. 1 on Amazon’s list of new children’s literature. The book tells the story of a young Afghan refugee who embarks on a mission to retrieve a traditional Afghan musical instrument stolen from his grandfather.

The origins of the story date back to an assignment Hollingsworth was given at Bath Spa to prepare a synopsis for a book she would never write. Later, her literary agent saw promise in the idea and asked her to flesh it out. She started writing in February of 2016; by year end the manuscript had been completed and sold to publishers.

Aiding the creative process was firsthand knowledge of Afghan culture Hollingsworth gained during a 2011 visit to the war-torn nation to see her sister, who was serving there at the time. Still, she faced the challenge of crafting a story that would be told through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy who had interests and perspective she lacked. To fill in the gaps, she reached out to her network of fellow Berry alumni to find people with knowledge in those areas.

“There were plenty of things that made me feel very unqualified to write this story,” she said. “But those places where I was completely out of my comfort zone provided really cool opportunities to call on the community around me. I had alumni friends who love Manchester United, or are middle school teachers, or have firsthand refugee experiences themselves. When I got in over my head, I could count on them to help me correct my mistakes. It was such a blessing to take a bit of the Berry community with me into my first book.”

Hollingsworth’s second book, The Invisible Boy, is due for release in fall 2019.

By student writer Kendall Aronson; photo by student Jacob Bushey

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Sandra MeekBeat poet Allen Ginsberg once said that “the only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world. That’s what poetry does.” So it is with Dr. Sandra Meek and her newest book of poems, An Ecology of Elsewhere, which recently earned her acclaim as the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year in poetry. The collection vividly relates scenes of desert and coast inspired by the longtime Berry faculty member’s return to southern Africa – where she once served as a Peace Corps volunteer – and her travels with her sister and father in the American Southwest following the death of her mother.

A three-time winner of the Georgia Writers Association prize, Meek has published five books of poems and a chapbook, The Circumference of Arrival. She also is editor of Deep Travel: Contemporary American Poets Abroad, which earned an Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal. Read more (registration may be required to access content).

By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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Facing Hope Premiere

From left, Juliana Osvald Breithaupt (99C, 06G), Laurie Hattaway Chandler (95C) and Paul Carter at the premiere for the "Facing Hope" magazine. Photo by student Jennifer Fortnash.

A local collaboration inspired by the national Facing Project provided seven Berry English and communication majors with the unique opportunity to gain valuable writing experience while also getting a first-person look at the difficulties faced by those who are poor, homeless or have other needs being addressed by community nonprofits.

Rome’s Facing Hope initiative brought together students, faculty and administrators from three area colleges – Berry, Georgia Highlands and Georgia Northwestern Technical College – and 23 nonprofits, including the Free Clinic of Rome, William S. Davies Homeless Shelter and the Rome chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“All of these nonprofits have one thing in common: giving hope to the people of Floyd County,” explained Laurie Hattaway Chandler (95C), director of Berry’s Bonner Center for Community Engagement and a Facing Hope coordinator along with project lead Juliana Osvald Breithaupt (99C, 06G) of Georgia Highlands and Paul Carter of Georgia Northwestern.

Students and mentors from each of the participating institutions were paired with social workers and clients from the various nonprofits with the goal of developing personal narratives that would help to put a face on those being served.

“Service and engagement have always been priorities for our three institutions,” Breithaupt stated. “This was the perfect opportunity for us to come together and support the work of our local nonprofits. At the same time, we gave our students the opportunity to witness firsthand the challenging issues people face in their everyday lives and how these organizations play a significant role in the viability and sustainability of our community.”

When completed, the articles were compiled in a print magazine and shared online. The students walked away with a publishing credit and a greater understanding of the world around them.

“This project really opened my eyes to another point-of-view,” said Matt Pulford (14C), a Gate of Opportunity Scholar who graduated in May. “It has changed the way I view the unfortunate; it gave people a face for me.”

 By Maxine Donnelly, philanthropic communications student writer

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