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I’m a teacher but want to be a writer. In all my months home this year, I have been continually more frustrated with my writing, and lack of writing. After three months of trying to teach middle school English online and write my novel while completely overwhelmed with the pandemic, I decided to apply to online MFA programs. I mostly wanted to see if I could get in.

I told myself I wouldn’t get in so I did not even have to think about the decision of enrolling or not. Healthy confidence level, right?

I applied to two online MFA…

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As a middle school English teacher, I often wish for more time to read and write, and I cannot deny I fished my wish, with some unwanted and tragic consequences. During this pandemic, I am safely home with family, food on my table, and technology to continue teaching. However, I still find myself having gut cherries. Any other English teacher or young adult novel enthusiast would know what I am referring to there. Gary Paulsen wrote about stomach pains better than anyone in the aftermath of Brian Robeson eating what he names gut cherries and having aches, pains, and body…

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Artists steal from nature, from everyday life, and from other artists. Writers use inspiration from other writers and from daily conversations. Teachers teach.

I am at a point where I am asking: can I pocket the quips and stories from my day to day life as a middle school English teacher?

I would love to tell you that I am the type of teacher that strikes awe and inspiration in my students and has a small notebook in my pocket that I have time to scrawl in mid-lesson. No. That is not the case here. Instead, I often remember writable…

I still might.

I do not have any tattoos. I am not against tattoos but never thought that I would find something that I felt strong enough to tattoo on my body. But Timshel did it. For the same reason, I gifted East of Eden by John Steinbeck to all my friends and family for any occasion an entire year after I read it. The book became more than a story for me. It wove a magic wand over my mind and put all the puzzle pieces together that I had been struggling to put in place.

For those of…

To Brian, my CVS pharmacist,

I would like to think you’d know me by now, but I know you see a lot of people when you’re working. Do you like your job? Do you have nightmares of people popping pills and immediately asking you for more? Or of the white paper bags seeking revenge and stapling you? Why do you wear a white coat? Is it to blend into the walls? Do you work all the time or are you simply conveniently there when I frequent CVS? What does CVS stand for? Scratch that. I can look the answer up…

How Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning challenged me to grow into happiness and let go of my crippling questions.

As a college student, I had daily plagues of what Frankl describes as a “question that burns under [their] fingernails” (Frankl, xiii). I found myself as an English major in classes on Poetry, Shakespeare, Philosophy, and Genocide which asked me questions to which I did not know the answer. Even when I held onto everything I wanted in life, I would stay up at night wondering, treading in my mind for the answers major flaws in humanity — major flaws…

[Let it be known, this essay focuses only on the advantageous side of teaching. As I am only in my sixth month of teaching, I am not complaining about how hard it is or patting myself on the back for my great accomplishments or for changing the lives of children.]

I am passionate about teaching but I do admit it is not my end goal. The children inspire me and the job is important, but I am not a career teacher. Confession done. To be honest, I pursued a career as a teacher because pursuing writing was daunting. I had…

You, the tree outside the window, 34th and N Street.

It rained; you bowed slightly sated next to the blue rusted car.

I lay there, the streetlight wasted and I mistrusted

You, holding up white flowers for weightless, exhaled laughing.


The red and blue of the room caught all the rods and cones, unused paints.

To know I leave soon and you would hold

Flowers until the rain slowed, air dried, and I

Swallow, Swift, Sparrow-ed


Further away until that car rusted to a halt and the leaves

Raisined, and none at the window to hold

You who…

Jay Ellis

Literacy Teacher, Reader, Learner

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