A Blooming of Sorts: Video Transcript

Darren C. Demaree (MA Creative Writing and Poetry, Miami, 2009) [poet and teacher]: It was always a hope of mine to end up coming back to Miami, and when I saw who was teaching here and the kinds of things that they were working on, both in terms of the creative dialogue and in terms of poetics and formalism and just many different things, it was gonna be a challenge for me to come and push myself at 22, to learn those things. The biggest thing that I remember, is this was the first time in my life that I was challenged. High school was easy, college was easy, I got here and all of a sudden I had brains bigger than mine pushing me to think in different ways, and that was a blooming of sorts for me.

The degree from Miami opens up lots of doors in terms of teaching opportunities. Poetically speaking, it was the initial challenge that sort of jump started some of my own practices into different arenas. Teachers like Chris Cheek, who joined the program while I was here, and teaching different sort of performance things, and different ways to challenge yourself in the writing process were big openers in terms of the creative endeavors.

The fondest thought I have about Miami, outside of my friends, is one of the workshops we had with Chris Cheek, where he brought in a package of ice, and had us while we were holding an ice cube in one hand, try to write a poem with our other hand, and that was always to me what I remember most about being pushed as an artist and about trying to rethink what the process should be.

The liberal arts education is important because there are 22, 25 years before you ever start your career. And there's 22 to 25 years after your career ends that you're going to be a person in the world. And so having a knowledge base that includes art, and includes beauty, that includes things other than what I do to make money, is incredibly important. If two-thirds of my life is spent not on my career, then you need to be as full a person as possible. And I also think it makes you better able to adapt in your career. You might not need to know philosophy to run a good business, but it might come in handy to help you through some troubling times. I think the fuller your knowledge, the better life you’re gonna have, and liberal arts does the best job of incorporating that.

In terms of my field, I think you can go into library studies, you can go into creative writing like I have, you can go into journalism, you can stick to teaching, if that’s what you enjoy most. I have friends that have gone into advertising, because once they figure out that you’re that good with language and good with words, that's an attractive quality for advertisers. So I think depending on what you love most about it, it ends up being, it ends up becoming a sort of confluence of a lot of different things.

You should write as often as possible and take as many weird classes as you possibly can find. Because when you sit down to write, you need to be able to reach not for a little bit of it, but for all of it, and pick and choose what's gonna work best in your own writing, and sometimes that comes from religion classes, and sometimes that comes from science classes, sometimes it comes from that math class that you didn't want to take, but you had to take. So take as many of them as you can, fit as much into the four years, or six years if you do the Masters as well, and all of that will end up mattering, whether you know it will, whether you know it or not. Find uncomfortable places to push yourself, and there are enough programs here, there are enough great teachers and faculty members, that if you start to feel a little awkward, a little anxious, that you need to go towards that feeling so you're actually exploring new parts of yourself. It is very easy if you’re an intelligent Miami student, and most of them are pretty intelligent, to just sort of stay in your path, and pick up what you need to go forward, as opposed to exploring, as opposed to taking advantage of that liberal arts education.

[September 2016]