A sculptor, a poet and a writer invite viewers into their world
By Suni Jo Roberts
In its past 16 issues the annual literary magazine The Huron River Review has given WCC students, faculty and staff a platform to showcase their creative work. From fiction to sculpture, poetry to photography, the review has published works by more than 400 different people since its inception in 2002.
The HRR is looking forward to assembling issue 17, and is currently accepting submissions through January.
Pieces for publication are chosen based on their aesthetic merit, according to the HRR editors, which further note they are especially “fond of work that is beautiful and/or strange.”
Now, three different students explain their work featured in issue 16 of the HRR, published in the spring of 2017: A sculptor is inspired by nature to create a vase; a writer grapples with boyhood and loss; a poet examines the big questions and answers.
Doebler’s work featured in the current issue of the HRR was an unexpected, yet welcome surprise.
“I never submitted the work,” said Doebler. “My piece that got shown, my ceramics teacher really loved the piece…. he put it in the library showcase. And then maybe about a month before the HRR came out I got an email saying that my piece was going to be in the HRR. It was all weird happenstance; I have no clue how it got in there, but I was really proud when I found out.”
The piece featured in the HRR is a photograph of the first sculpture Doebler created in Irving B. Ramsen’s ceramics class. The scuplture is a vase with flower petals circling the top and splaying outward as if following the curvature toward the expanding circumference of the vase.
“I just started going with it and I was hand making the flower petals and I just let it go the way it is,” said Doebler. “But I kind of describe it as a living dead flower, because I spent a lot of time hand painting each petal before it was fired.”
Growing up in northern Michigan, Doebler finds inspiration for their work in nature.
“Tree branches and flowers and vines and stuff like that. That is where a lot of my work comes from,” said Doebler.
After Doebler’s piece appeared in the HRR they have received positive feedback, fuel for their future goals and a plan to submit work to the upcoming issue.
“A lot of people tell me I have a natural talent for this,” said Doebler. “I’m like OK, maybe this is really something I really need to start going with.” Looking forward to the future, Doebler hopes to get into the art program at the University of Michigan and study ceramics and sculpture.
In the very beginning Doebler began sculpting this vase in hopes their husband would buy them more flowers.
“When I was making it I was just making a vase so that my husband would buy me more flowers. I figured if I made a vase that looked like flowers he would want to buy me flowers,” said Doebler. “Sadly that hasn’t worked.”
It may be one goal unrealized, but Doebler has realized a lot more in a new talent, a promising future, and a beautiful sculpture.
The Black Bird Alchemy
Romero began writing in high school but has been gathering material since he was a young boy. He used his writing in “The Black Bird Alchemy” featured in the HRR to focus in on the idealistic sense of justice he had as a young boy through the lens of his dying dog. In retrospect, Romero used this writing to process the past, which was the real life death of his dogs as a young boy, “therapeutically and in hindsight.”
Prior to submitting his work to the HRR, Romero grew as a writer in Zachary Braun’s writing courses at WCC. An assignment in Braun’s course led to the published piece in the HRR.
“The class after I turned it in he caught me in the hall, we were walking out at the same time,” said Romero. “He’d been familiar with my writing for years, because I started out taking his class when I was eighteen. I’ve had at least one of his classes every year so he has been there for my progression and he made a note of saying that it was, he thought, the best writing that I had done. What he said was that it was the most honest writing that he had seen of mine.”
Braun then encouraged Romero to submit his piece to the HRR and it was chosen for publication as a piece of short fiction titled “The Black Bird Alchemy.”
In the story, a boy attempts to care for his wounded dog by following directions to create a potion that promises to “work”. Just when the boy is afraid the potion isn’t making magic, an unexpected character restores hope.
“I kind of viewed it as a kind of that longing, that boyish fantasy, when you are young you kind of assume that the world makes sense, and it will all be alright so to speak,” said Romero. “And there will be a series of events that you can trace that will lead to an outcome that is good and convinces you that life is just. It was something I wish was a part of life, that sometimes you are 100 percent sure, because there was some magical force in the world that was going to come and heal the people that injustices had happened to.”
Currently, Romero is taking a semester off to do a farm apprenticeship in upstate New York. He plans to return to WCC for the winter semester and study psychology at the University of Michigan. He hopes to combine his interest in writing and education in psychology in the future.
“But maybe learn something about life and people and try to formulate that into a non-fiction story which is what I feel all art in general is trying to do,” said Romero. “The purpose of it all is to communicate something abstract that we haven’t quite gotten a grasp on yet.”
The Answers We Seek
What began as an exploration of existentialism in Corinne Painter’s philosophy class at WCC ended up being a poem published in the HRR by Matthew Trosper-Scherer.
He said the process was pretty straightforward and was encouraged by his creative writing instructor Jas Obrecht to submit the poem to the HRR.
Trosper-Scherer’s poem “The Answers We Seek” ask the big questions about life and death. He used people he knew in his real life that had been affected by cancer as inspiration for his poem.
“Trying to answer the questions, the really big questions of life, it seems is really almost futile because even if you do know the answers, what are you going to do with it? You are still mortal,” said Trosper-Scherer.
Despite his exploration into the futility of concrete answers, Trosper-Sherer is able to find a larger meaning in answers found in his poem.
“In the Father’s explanation to the son in the loss of the mother first, and then the close call with his fiancé and then the eventual loss of the grandfather, in the explanation of what it is to die, those are explorations on how they should live,” said Trosper-Sherer.
Trosper-Scherer explained some his writing process.
“I try to write to cope with my own life,” said Trosper-Scherer. “Either if it’s an expression of an adventure I want to have, or processing emotions I just don’t think I can handle in one sitting, I’ll write them out into a story so I can process them over time.”
Trosper-Sherer hopes to transfer to the University of Michigan to study creative writing.
He also plans to publish a book of poetry in the summer of 2018 and a science fiction novel in 2020.
His long-term goals include writing narratives for video games and he mentioned he thinks that videogames are able to reach people on a much deeper level.
He ended with a final thought on whether questions or answers are more important.
“I think questions are more important than answers because there is never a complete, a total answer to a question, it’s always subjective,” said Trosper-Sherer. “Truth isn’t a real thing that we can grasp because we are all different. We all look at the world differently.
“I mean we can have morals and society because we can all agree on certain things. In reality we all look at the world completely different.”