Author Archives: Danielle

Slipping Away

In this piece of poem, I contemplate some of my mother’s last wishes and wrestle with how to best fulfill them. Continue reading

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Thawing Memories

It’s fascinating how many of our most precious memories with loved ones involve food in one form or another. In this poem, I reflect on the days when I used to sit on the kitchen floor and talk to my mother while she cooked dinner. I contrast that with my feeble attempt to cook dinner for myself as I learned how to become independent. Continue reading

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House of My Heart

I wrote this poem two years after my mother died. Because I went straight back to school after she passed away, I did not give myself a chance to grieve and it took a long time before I was finally able to process the experience. Continue reading

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Carolina Evening; Weaving History

I wrote this poem after visiting a friend in Charleston, South Carolina during the summer of 2004. My friend was from an old Southern family and her parents were quite wealthy, owning eleven houses. Yet, they liked to point out that their money was from law and business. Their ancestors did not own slaves. When my friend took me downtown to go shopping, I was mesmerized by the quiet, self assured black women who were weaving sweet grass baskets, some of which sold for several hundred dollars. My friend explained that this was a tradition dating back to the antebellum era and even today, only black Gullah women know the secrets of how to make these baskets. My experience in Charleston showed me how much has changed since those times and how much progress still needs to be made. During my trip, I purchased one of the smaller baskets as a keepsake. I display it on my bureau at home. Continue reading

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Tobacco Sky

As a child, I grew up listening to my father’s stories of growing up on a tobacco farm in Danville, Virginia. At the dinner table, he often shared his memories of pulling tobacco and plowing behind a mule as the sun went down. This poem profiles his experiences including the race relations that were present in the South at the time. Continue reading

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An Evolving Writer

This personal essay was originally titled “Why I Write.” As the name indicates, it is about my reasons for writing, how I first knew I wanted to be a writer, and how the craft of writing has helped me to learn and grow as a person. Continue reading

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My South

The prompt for this assignment was: “Write a personal essay about your relationship with a place.” I chose to write not about one specific place, but about a region. Although I was born and raised in Boston, my father is from Danville, Virginia (close to the North Carolina border) and most of my mother’s family also lives in the state. As a result, I went down South several times a year growing up. Being “Southern” does not just mean being from a particular part of the country; rather, it is an ethnicity, a heritage. Some may say it’s almost a nationality in and of itself. As this essay explains, my relationship with the South has changed over time, but I still love it for all its assets and imperfections. I often feel that I am a misplaced Yankee who was born in the wrong place. Continue reading

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What is a Personal Essay?

After writing the two personal essays above, I was expected to be able to define this style of writing. In the present essay, I argue that “a personal or informal essay is an autobiographical genre that addresses a question that results in an epiphany or as particular significance to the author.” I compare and contrast the writing of James Baldwin and Annie Dillard, two essayists who serve as an excellent means of comparison in discussing the personal essay as a genre. Continue reading

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Colon Cancer; Early Detection is the Best Means of Prevention

In this essay, I argue that the recommended age for getting a colonoscopy should be lowered and provide case studies to prove my points. While this is an “argument essay,” my reasons for choosing the topic were personal. My mother died from colon cancer a few months before I wrote this piece and she was a day shy of 52 when the disease took her life. Continue reading

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