- Departments:English Composition & Literature, Creative Writing
- Divisions:Arts & Humanities, Kelly Hall (KLY)
- Title:English Adjunct Faculty
- Office LocationKLY 204
About the teacher and writer:
Many years ago my Whatcom Community College Creative Writing teacher and mentor, Judith Azrael, encouraged me to attend Western Washington University to pursue my love for writing creatively. I followed her advice, and received my Bachelors of English with a Writing Concentration, and eventually my Masters Degree in English, with a Creative Writing emphasis.
This is my 15th year teaching at WCC, and I’ve had the good fortune to teach a number of Creative Writing courses over these years. Creative Writing is my favorite class to teach, because the classroom is filled with students who also have a love for shaping their words into little worlds of their own, and they are also happy to explore the fiction and poetry written by others.
The roots of a creative writer often reach deep into our childhoods. I think I always wanted to be a writer (sometime before or after I wanted to be a missionary), because I loved to read and enter those alternate worlds, and wanted to be the kind of person who could write characters fully into being. I felt drawn to write poetry, and as a teenager started keeping journals that collected all of my dreams, as well as my complaints. I enjoy writing alongside students, trying out the things I’m asking them to try, and am still drawn to write poetry regularly. I love writing in form, writing outside of form, experimenting, writing haiku and reading and listening to poetry. I love reading short stories and memoir, and aspire to write a creative memoir.
I hope to work with many more creative writers in my remaining years at Whatcom Community College.
Sample class exercise:
Samples of her work:
Where We Were
(by Donna Watson Rushing)
Bruce E Shulkey Elementary,
Fort Worth, Texas, 1963.
Inside, we third-graders, having pledged
allegiance to the flag
and having tortured the high notes
during yet another repetition
of Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home”
in music class, now gaze outdoors,
where on this November morning
the sun shines, though a chill wind stirs
Now it is Social Studies.
“Russia,” says Mrs. VanTine,
“is behind the Iron Curtain.”
My mind conjures a dark and endless curtain,
its creases and folds dangerous,
heavier than a million iron skillets
What does the curtain hang on?
I wonder, and why does a whole country
need a curtain?
Some days we have “Duck and Cover” drills.
We line up quickly, boys and girls
in separate rows. “Keep the lines straight,”
says Mrs.VanTine, and “Keep in step!”
We march down the hall, and once in our places
kneel toward the walls in unison, as if in prayer
then fold into ourselves
gawky ducks in rows
our fingers laced behind our heads
rehearsing for the A-bomb.
Today there is no drill,
but Mr. Parnell’s voice comes through the loud speaker
making me forget my next thought
and he tells us that President Kennedy has been shot
killed one city away in Dallas.
Mrs. VanTine cries.
My classroom enemies, Mitch and Rob,
say to each other, “It was probably the Reds.”
“You don’t know that!” I shout,
At home, alone with their televisions,
all our mothers cry, gaze outside from time to time,
waiting for the children and then the fathers to come home.
Our President waves to the crowds, in his element,
charming them, and us,
then is shot again and again, on those television screens
while he grows more and more remote.
We third graders don’t know yet
that we will never forget where we were on this day.