The great English Romantic poet Percy Shelley wrote in his essay “A Defense of Poetry” that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” This statement might strike many as an exaggeration, even a wild overstatement. Poets are generally regarded as introspective and isolated—not as legislators serving and leading their communities. How can a poet, someone who operates outside the normal political world, be a lawmaker?
Emily Garcia has the answer.
Four years have past since Emily first stepped foot on MSA’s 1600-acre campus. During her time on the Hill, she has proven that Shelley’s confidence in the power of the poet and poetry is, in fact, spot on. With her love of modern poetry and MSA’s unique independent study program, she has shaped her own form of success and provided a valuable service to the school.
This year Emily took advantage of MSA’s commitment to student-initiated and student-run programs to craft her own educational and leadership path. The combination of an independent study and a library internship allowed her the freedom to create a modern poetry section in the library. She also wrote her own collection of original poetry, while spearheading the school’s literary magazine. What is more, she brought a renowned poet to MSA for the Virginia Festival of the Book.
Emily Garcia worked with Sarah Goodbar, a founding member of the new Student Success Center. Goodbar's interest in supporting students' passions is one of the reasons she has worked towards the creation of a stand-alone center for student success. Goodbar remarked: "Emily knew what she was interested in and saw how she could be of service to the school while following her passion in life. Creating opportunities for students to forge their own paths forward is one of the most exciting things about being a teacher, and the SSC will provide a lot of on-the-ground help for students and teachers who are interested in creating learning opportunities outside the classroom."
Literally and figuratively, Emily’s life has been one of poetry—and MSA’s unique focus on each student’s strength has given her the poetic license to succeed.
Take a moment to read a Q & A with Emily:
How has MSA helped you develop as a writer?
Miller really helped me by giving me multiple opportunities to work with poetry and writing as well as grow as a writer. Whether it be through encouraging me to submit poetry pieces into a local writing contest or allowing me to fit all of my interests into a manageable schedule.
How has MSA allowed you to pursue your passions this year?
As a senior I was given a lot of flexibility in my schedule. I was able to divide my time between my internship in the library and an independent study with the literary magazine. Over the course of this year I was able to revamp the poetry section of the library by weeding out old books in poor condition and bringing in new, more interesting ones that students would enjoy. In my independent study I was the senior editor for Miller School’s literary magazine. The Light on the Hill editorial team was successful in selecting submissions, creating, and publishing the literary magazine, which will be available within the next few weeks.
Tell us about bringing the Virginia Festival of the Book to campus?
With the help and support of Mrs. Goodbar, as well as careful planning with faculty, I was able to have poet Molly Minturn visit Miller. I tied her visit in with the literary magazine and even our humanities program. We were able to have Ms. Minturn select winners of our literary magazine, present her poems in assembly, and even lead a creative writing workshop that students received humanities credits for attending.
You are preparing to publish your first book! How did this come together?
With the help of Ms. Ainsworth and Mr. Kauffmann, I am in the final stages of writing my first chapbook, which I hope to publish in the near future. It is a compilation of my personal poetry and prose work that go back as far as 2017. Ms. Ainsworth has supported me through the whole process and encouraged me to continue working on my writing, while giving me time to work on it during my independent study. Mr. Kauffmann, who is my creative writing teacher, has helped me become a stronger and more mature writer overall, while also guiding me in improving some of my pieces for the chapbook. I am extremely excited to see over twenty pages of my words come together to form one cohesive work of which I get to call myself the author.
Closing thoughts or words of wisdom for younger students?
I have always had a deep love for the written word since I was young. I am fascinated with the ability that words have to captivate and inspire me, and I wish to share that same experience with others. MSA is a place where what you study comes to life and what you know can impact and shape the school. Discover your passion and use it to develop your own unique form of excellence.