Written word bridges gap in understanding

Adela Talbot // Western News

Sydney Brooman, a fourth-year Honors English Language & Literature and Creative Writing student, is the 2017 Student Writer-in-Residence. The program is a unique to North America position developed by the University Students’ Council (USC) and the Department of English and Writing Studies.

The written word has long served Sydney Brooman. It’s been an inspiration, a site of learning and discovery, even a gift she has given others from an early age. Above all, it’s been a vital form of expression.

“All through elementary school and high school, I had a severe stutter. I had trouble making friends. Class was difficult. I felt like writing, for me, could express things I couldn’t express linguistically,” said Brooman, a fourth-year Honors English Language & Literature and Creative Writing student.

In September, Brooman will begin her term as the 2017 Student Writer-in-Residence, a unique to North America position developed by the University Students’ Council (USC) and the Department of English and Writing Studies. The mandate of the program is to provide support for an accomplished undergraduate writer while allowing other students to benefit from the writer’s creativity, expertise, and organizational skills.

“Even today, there’s this gap between what I can produce in my writing and what I can express linguistically. Writing was very important for me in that way,” she noted.

She remembers writing books as a child, eagerly giving them to family members, wanting to impart her young-mind’s wisdom. She was “knowledgeable about everything and had to tell people everything,” Brooman explained with a laugh. This impetus to share her thoughts evolved first into long-form writing in grade school, shifting to shorter forms, like poetry and stories, following her arrival at Western. It also continues to play out in what Brooman likes to write about, and where she finds inspiration.

“I tend to write a lot about children – children’s dynamics with each other, child and parent dynamics. Both my parents are teachers and I’ve worked summer camp jobs. Being around young children and older children, you see they just say the most interesting, odd, nuanced things and they don’t even realize it,” she said.

“I find those sorts of conversations very interesting because it’s an innocence we don’t have, but at the same time, often a kid will tell me something I would never think to think. Their perspective on things can be a lot more mature than we think.”

As the incoming Student Writer-in-Residence, she hopes to offer events and programming to nurture all writers across campus and the London community, regardless of age, social status or writing experience. She wants to encourage budding writers to work together and share their ideas and words with one another in a collaborative, welcoming environment.

You don’t have to “come out of the womb as Shakespeare,” Brooman noted. Often those who wish to write or write on their own in silos lack confidence in their work and talents.

“Some students think they can’t write well. But you have to write so many bad pieces to be able to write a good piece. People are worried about writing clichés and things that don’t make sense, or things that have been written before. But you have to write clichés before you can learn how to write something that’s not cliché,” she explained.

Working alongside others and sharing one’s work is an important step in that process, Brooman added.

“It’s important to put yourself out there and put yourself in circumstances that make you uncomfortable in order to better yourself.”

As the Student Writer-in-Residence, Brooman hopes to organize a large-scale poetry project involving students across campus and those in the London community, allowing everyone to contribute a piece in order to create something that “speaks to a lot of different experiences but encompasses one single experience.” She also wants to host symposium coffee house events. And, after she wraps up her studies at Western, Brooman wants to continue helping others share their words.

“I want to be in position to travel to different places and publish work of people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to be published. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to come to university, and be handed the opportunity to publish my work and learn from talented people how to hone my craft. Opportunities are flying at me and I’m very lucky,” she noted.

“A lot of people in varying in circumstances, aren’t encouraged to pursue careers in the arts, so many there are wonderful writers society won’t see published. Those who are fortunate and have access to opportunities make up most of the voices heard and it creates a system in which only privileged voices are being heard,” Brooman continued.

Her recent publications include poetry in the Fall and Spring editions of Symposium, the Fall edition of Semicolon, the Glitch edition of The Iconoclast Collective, and a piece in the 2016 edition of Occasus for which she was awarded first place submission.

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Fourth-year Arts & Humanities student Sydney Brooman begins her term as Student Writer-in-Residence this fall and will host office hours 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Thursdays in AHB 2G28M.