Pace Pleasantville poets showcase impressive work

During the spring 2018 semester, Professor Olivia Worden taught ENG 308 Creative Writing: Poetry, which she described as follows:

Poetry Outside the Lines.Through this course we will explore the ways in which poetry challenges traditional ideas of form, content, language and voice. With a focus on workshopping, writing prompts, and in-class discussion of readings, students will consider the artistic benefits and craft of “drawing outside the lines” of the genre. In addition, students will create a chapbook of their work, learning how to edit and compile a collection of their own poems.

When Professor Worden announced students would be presenting their chapbooks at the end of the semester, I knew I wanted to be there.

I was not disappointed.

I began the evening visiting a couple students and seeing their work up close.


Jaquay Dee-Hardmon held up a black box with a chain around it. Pills, broken glass, and bandaids were scattered on the surface, and a label announced that it was “My Soul’s Asylum.” Jaquay said with a big smile, “My poems are all about pain.”

Jaquay pulled the chain open (it was attached with a velcro fastener!) and revealed the inside of the box, lined with gauze. A poem was scrolled inside of a syringe, another was in a box of bandaids, another was in a rubber glove, and so forth. Wow. I felt like I was actively prying, reaching to read the words that were hidden, exploring space that was even more private than the inside of someone’s medicine cabinet. Reading poetry wasn’t simply reading; it was actively seeking a person’s words, holding them in my hands, respectfully returning the words to the place where I had found them.

That’s how the night began.


Elise Dietrich


Elise Dietrich shared a table with Jaquay, and her poetry was placed in an album of artwork and scrapbooking. I was blown away by Elise’s watercolors, mostly of women’s bodies, simple and strong despite the gentle wash of the watercolor medium. It’s worth zooming in on the photo to the left to see the juxtaposition of the visual art and the poetry.

Well. That’s as far as I got before we were all asked to take our seats so we could hear poems or “Why I Write” statements read aloud for the audience. I won’t try to recapture these performances, but I will tell you that the work was impressive, and sometimes it was so haunting or desperate or painful that I cried. I cry easily, it’s true, but I was not alone in shedding tears. Later I said to some of the students that we don’t always expect to experience strong emotions when we are in academic spaces, but sometimes we do. And that’s not a bad thing.


After the readings, we all had more time to explore the poetry chapbooks. I saw almost all of them. Here are some glimpses of the projects and the poets for you to get some small sense of the night.


You and I both know these photos do not do the poets and their poetry justice. Their work was creative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and interactive. Their words were not 2D or even 3D but something more—something that asked the reader to be there, too, to take part, to witness, to delve in, to experience.


If you have an opportunity to take part in such a night when it occurs again, be sure you don’t miss it. Whether you are a poet or someone who appreciates poetry, this is the kind of night that you will not forget.

And if you are one of the poets who shared work and you’re now reading this, I have two words for you:



Class project: Eleanor & Park

Yesterday, Professor Laura Toffler emailed me to share this class project by Pace University English major Madison Kiefer. Professor Toffler wrote:

Madison Kiefer made this wonderfully creative trailer based 
on Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. She is the one illustrating and, as you’ll see, uses an interesting quick time technique. She also chose a soundtrack of music referenced in the book.

Hope this inspires you to read, to write, to create! And congrats to Madison on a cool project!

Developing a Writing Major

What does a department chair think about? Material from my panel at the MLA Convention in New York City, January 2018, gives one window into my administrative work. I’m lucky to work with colleagues who carefully think through curricular changes with me! Note: To see the full original post, click here.

Laurie Mac Reads

The following material was prepared to complement my remarks at MLA 2018 as part of a panel titledWriting in the English Department: Models for Success.

Please find:

  1. Presentation slides
  2. A downloadable version of the presentation (to access hyperlinks and notes)
  3. Some helpful sources to consult while developing a writing major

If you’d like to view the above presentation with access to hyperlinks and notes, it’s available for download:
Developing a Writing Major MLA 2018



Step One: Getting started thinking about the writing major

Giberson, Greg A., and Thomas A. Moriarty, editors. What We Are Becoming: Developments in Undergraduate Writing Majors. Utah State U P, 2010.

This edited collection considers a variety of institutional contexts for writing majors and offers models for writing curricula and specific courses. A couple chapters offer cautionary tales, but most offer designs that have worked at particular…

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Classroom Dynamics

As you get ready to start a new semester, think positively! Four students use metaphors to describe the classroom dynamics in their LIT 132 Introduction to Literary Studies class, and they definitely give us ideas of what we should aim for.

Tell us what you think of their metaphors, and give us one of your own!

Pace Profile: Dr. Laurie McMillan

Profile by Jenna Scaglione


Dr. Laurie McMillan

Education & Career Path
After graduating from Brandeis University with a major in psychology and elementary education certification, Dr. Laurie McMillan began teaching. Even though she loved teaching at the elementary level, she felt she needed a change.

Dr. McMillan is passionate about reading and writing, which encouraged her to further her education. She decided to continue her education at Duquesne University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English Literature. Dr. McMillan then started teaching at the college level because it gave her the opportunity to teach writing and literary studies while also spending time doing her own research.

Dr. McMillan joined Pace’s Department of English and Modern Language Studies in September 2016. She appreciates the strong department community and enjoys the creative writing presence found at Pace.

Teaching Goals

Dr. McMillan is very dedicated to helping students become better writers, which is currently what she is working on at Pace University. She says that her greatest accomplishment is helping her students achieve their goals and improve.

Dr. McMillan is currently exploring possibilities for adding a writing major to the offerings on Pace’s Pleasantville campus. The Department of English and Modern Language Studies already offers a creative writing minor and a writing track within the English major, so Dr. McMillan believes a full writing major seems like the next step and says it would appeal to a wide range of students.

Spare Time

Dr. McMillan loves reading and writing. One of the books she recommends is Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Dr. McMillan enjoys many forms of writing. She is especially enthusiastic about multimedia writing digitally online such as blogging and creating Youtube videos.

Dr. McMillan also enjoys activities around the house such as fixing up old furniture,  painting, and gardening.


Dr. McMillan believes college students should follow their passion in life and not be afraid to pursue their dreams. She also stresses the significance in having a backup plan. Life is full of surprises, so it’s helpful if you’re ready to adapt.