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Alumna Spotlight: Barbara Daniel, '21

A black and white photo of Barbara, a woman with shoulder-length brown hair and glasses.
Photo courtesy of Barbara Daniel

The Colton Review is excited to kick off our new blog series featuring creative writing alumnae with our first alum, Barbara Daniel! Read more about Barbara and check out one of her poems below.

I am Barbara Daniel, Class of 2021. As a child, I dreamt of writing, so I dabbled in it at numerous stages of life. Regrettably, it produced a vicious cycle of starting and stopping with my attempts in a landfill, slowly decomposing. Eager to reignite the dream and acquire sound techniques, I took a Writing Poetry class at Meredith. While the prompts were enjoyable, my writing remained mediocre, so I signed up for Professor Ashley Hogan’s Introduction to Creative Writing course. From the beginning, Prof. Hogan stressed we would compose and rewrite drafts. As an explanation, we read an excerpt from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. Lamott “argues for the need to let go and write those ‘shitty first drafts’ that lead to clarity and sometimes brilliance in our second and third drafts.” Thankfully, these explanations compelled me to reconsider how I approached my writing. Without judgment, you can continue molding and sculpting the piece into something impressive. So, equipped with this exciting fresh outlook, I wrote a “shitty first draft.” Considering classmates’ critiques and Prof. Hogan’s excellent guidance, the “shitty first draft” evolved. After several edits, my poem"The Caverns" continued to transform into what you will see below. I hope you enjoy the piece as much as I enjoyed crafting it. My advice: be adventurous, explore the creative writing classes at Meredith College, and submit your work to The Colton Review. Write that “shitty first draft.” After many edits, the finished work may represent the most brilliant piece you’ve written.

The Caverns

An abecedarius by Barbara Daniel

Adventurous! We’d spend summer somewhere

between reality and fantasy, looking for

caverns with gaping mouths, coaxing,

daring us to enter the blackness within.

“Explore me,” the first cave called!

Fear wobbled my knees. You, however,

grasp my hand and walk toward the dark.

Heart clawing at my chest, trying to get out,

icily I stand my ground — frozen. You

jokingly pull me forward — toward the hole.

Kindred spirits looking for adventure, one

leery of darkness, the other intoxicated by it.

Marching to your own beat, you release me and

nonchalantly disappear into the nothingness,

older by a day and braver than I.

Popping my head in, trembling, hoping I’m ready for the

quest. As my eyes adjust to the nothingness, I

realize how beautiful the cavern’s teeth are!

Stalactites huge and hanging, tiny drops of water

trickling down, I gasp at the splendor.

Urgently, we scan the cavern hoping for more majestic

views! In a life full of caverns, this first one is the most

wondrous. We discovered a lifetime bond and a small

xenolith that still sits on my desk forty

years later. Now, a great conversation piece on

Zoom and a reminder of my forever friend.

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