Coming Through the Storm

      We spent the whole day but we didn’t find her. During the night, we heard someone screaming in the neighborhood. Everybody was ready to go and see what the problem was, since we were living as a small community because some of us had lost our houses and didn’t know where to go. When we arrived, a circle had been formed by the small community. Someone was inside the circle moving as a snake until the spirit of Nae came and asked for some help….

via Coming Through the Storm–1st Place Winter 2018

The Monroe College Art Collaborative holds a writing contest every semester. As soon as I saw the theme of this semester’s contest, Coming Through the Storm, I knew there was a student I wanted the college to hear from. A Haitian student in my English as a Second Language composition class, Christie had written some beautiful essays for me about the Haitian earthquake and Caribbean hurricanes that were right on theme, so I knew she had something to say.

I nudged her, and although she says she has no aspirations to become a writer and would not have given the contest a second thought otherwise, Christie wrote a short piece of creative nonfiction for me.

I pushed her to flesh out an earlier draft with more explicit detail, and she pushed back. “I don’t want to say everything. I want people to be curious and look up more information about my country and our religion.” It was, I reminded her, not my work but hers, and she should be the final arbiter on what she included or left out.

Clearly, she knew what she was doing, because she won first prize!

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