Welcome to this year’s edition of Inspiration Point, Bluffton’s online literary journal. This year’s theme was “Stirring of the wind,” although we welcomed many other wonderful submissions that did not necessarily align with the theme. The 2014 edition of Inspiration features short stories and poems from many of our talented students here at Bluffton University as well as a few from our valued community members from the village of Bluffton. It also brings the editors of Inspiration Point great pleasure to publish for the first time the award winning essays of the John D. Unruh and Naomi Brenneman research contests. We anticipate this to be a tradition in the years to come!
It is our hope that you will explore and enjoy these works of creativity.
The 2014 Editors of Inspiration Point
Breezes of Barth, Beethoven,
And airs of Aristotle
Breathe through a campus
Planted for questing in Truth.
The harvest is libraried inside.
Open communication lines
Show signs of caring
In a pulp beaten world
Where slicks oil nature
And suffocate the Word.
Faces in window clocks
Change as the years run down;
Community lamps grow dim
Then brighten with new life.
Eternity ticks in the present.
Jenelle bought another pair of boots that afternoon. The Gloria Pelori Number Sevens in charcoal were a necessary purchase. She had worn patent leather sling-backs to work, it couldn’t have been over ten degrees outside, and three inches of snow had to have fallen since she began the commute home. She had to keep warm somehow, and besides, they would pair well with most of her February outfits.
Jay’s Lexus was parked in the first row on the second floor of the garage—she had driven up there to see if he was home. She didn’t want the new boots to have salt on them, so she took them off and slipped the heel straps back over her ankles. She wouldn’t step so much as one suede Pelori toe in the slushy parking garage while wearing the boots, and she didn’t want Jay to know she had bought them.
Jenelle put the boots in her tote and her stomach lurched. Breathe, she told herself. She’d been anxious ever since she entered the department store during her lunch break, and her fear had only grown as she purchased the boots, left the office, and drove closer to home. Now she opened her apartment door, threw her bag on the counter, and slipped off the heels she had just put on in the car.
“Hey, babe” Jay smiled from the stove. He was stirring a steaming pan with a wooden spoon. “You wanna try this sauce I’m making for the chicken? It’s pretty hot.”
“I know you are,” she grinned, “I’ll take my stuff to the room and I’ll be back.”
She grabbed her tote and missed one of the handles. The bag fell open, spilling pens and receipts like confetti. One of the boots fell out and thudded on the hardwood. Continue reading
as I bash my left elbow for
the eleventh time today
but this time something’s different –
I feel the collision
travel up my arm without pain, and
a hairline crack spreads,
splitting into multiple branches.
Cradling my injured arm in horror,
I start to run, but this only
accelerates the process.
It reaches my face, so I stop,
and a piece of it
like a china doll’s,
turning in midair
so that my own eye
stares back at me from the sidewalk,
a shard of face.
It looks sad and confused, as if
it knew this would happen someday.
I bend over to pick it up,
and my unattached eye acts as a mirror, showing
that my insides are hollow.
My skin is cold porcelain to the touch.
I stand riveted
as one eye stares back at its twin,
until I suddenly crumble,
scattering my shattered self
on the concrete.
What ethnicity are you?
……………White African-American Hispanic Asian Native American
Just mark one. It’s important for demographics’ sake.
…..The white is impossible to hide.
…..The pale tones of Europe,
…..The cruel invaders,
…..Thieves and cheats; taking others’ lives and lands.
…..Conquers who enslaved thousands for skin tones.
…..Masters of the less fortunate,
…..Dictators of country and industry,
…..Rapists and murderers.
…..A disease spreading over the globe.
…..The racially hateful majority.
Why do you hesitate? Just mark one. We don’t judge.
………Talia stepped off the bus and immediately zipped up her red raincoat; it was early spring and the nights were freezing. At least the rain had slowed to a drizzle and the clouds were beginning to clear. She set off along the street, pulling her hood up over her dark hair as she went. The ties bit into the underside of her chin, but she was too cold to care.
………She had waited far too long to leave work. The sun was long gone and street lamps were few and far between in this area of town. Those few that were still standing seemed to have on their own schedules, fading in an out every hour or so or only lighting up on Wednesdays. There was enough light to see by, though, and she shuffled onwards, skirting puddles.
………Her purse bumped against her hip as she walked and the movement seemed weirdly conspicuous in the vacant street. Talia wrapped one hand around the strap to still it and glanced around. The sight was familiar, though she had never been out walking this late. There were the same boarded up houses with the same overgrown lawns as there had been every time she passed this way. The branches of a tree scraped her hood as she passed and she shuddered. Ten more blocks. She wondered if she should have taken Tracy up on that offer of a couch.
………A dog howled in the distance and she jumped, before rolling her eyes. “It’s probably just Achilles,” she said aloud, trying to reassure herself. Her grandmother’s dog never howled—he never even barked. But no one else lived around here anymore and he had been out all day and she was running late. Continue reading
My forehead presses against the thick glass.
The hum of the cabin is comforting, although I am nauseated.
I feel my blood rushing out from my heart to the surrounding veins and capillaries,
Much like the cars rushing along the interstates below me.
Humility washes over me as I see the world from a bird’s eye view.
The Earth is dappled green and freckled with swimming pools and baseball diamonds.
And then I am reminded that God is even farther away than I.
I drink my single serving water.
And meditate on the hum of the cabin.
Did you ever stop to think about how often
you and I say and do things we don’t mean?
How I put up with you even when your
presence annoys me? I’m trying to be nice
and keep this relationship, but sometimes
I wonder if it’s worth it.
Did you ever stop and think that I don’t really
care about your endeavors? I just listen to
what you say because that’s what good friends
do. I’ve stopped trying to tell you what I really
think because you don’t listen.
Did you ever stop and think that when I say
I want to punch you, I’m not joking? I really
mean it sometimes. Sure, I laugh and smile
while I say it, but you never look beyond
that to see my true intentions.
Did you ever stop and think that when I say
I don’t want anything, I seriously don’t
want anything? You don’t need to buy
me jewelry, which I won’t wear, or a
stuffed animal that will just sit in my
closet to buy my affection.
So next time you think about getting me
something, think I’m just joking around,
or see me nodding my head along with
what you say, just stop and think.
The Naomi Brenneman Award is given to an essay that critically examines literature. Inspiration Point is pleased to present the winning essay of this year’s contest!
…… Fear is a tool that has helped to shape both society and individuals from the beginning. It was perhaps the very first emotion ever felt by humanity’s ancestors. Strangely, it has the dual ability not only to scare people away but also to draw them in; “when to this sense of fear and evil the inevitable fascination of wonder and curiosity is superadded, there is born a composite body of keen emotion and imaginative provocation whose vitality must of necessity endure as long as the human race itself” (Lovecraft 14). Thus, people are drawn to sources of fear such as horror fiction. A definition of horror fiction reveals that it is “a story in which the author manipulates the reader’s emotions by introducing situations in which unexplainable phenomena and unearthly creatures threaten the protagonists and provoke terror in the reader” (Spratford 13). People are drawn to ways of reproducing the terror that, at one time, was essential for maintaining the wellbeing of them as a species, encouraging people to avoid dangerous and potentially deadly situations. Furthermore, horror has not exactly stayed static. Instead, as culture changes, so do some of the specific events or situations that people find frightening. In order to stay relevant, horror fiction as a genre has adapted to the culture into which the author is writing.
…….Adaptation of this kind can be seen specifically in two surprisingly different novels, Dracula and World War Z. The authors, Bram Stoker and Max Brooks, are clearly using the way that they write horror fiction to respond to two very different cultures, based over one-hundred years apart. Because the two novels are reflections of very different cultures, Dracula is able to effectively frighten the reader using individual threats while World War Z does so with threats to society as a whole. Both are functional horror novels, despite the differences in their presentation and in the way that they attempt to inspire fear. As a reflection of the culture in the nineteenth century, Dracula is a novel that uses vampires as threats against individuals. The characters often show very clearly that they are afraid. This is illustrated very clearly at one point, with Harker saying of vampires, “There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear” (Stoker 31). On the other hand, World War Z was created with the twenty-first century in mind. Because of this, its threats are against society as a whole. Still, fear can be seen throughout the novel. One character in this novel calls out hysterically, “They’re not afraid! No matter what we do, no matter how many we kill, they will never, ever be afraid!” (Brooks 104). In this case, because the emphasis of the fear in the novel is on entire groups, the character uses the plural ‘we’ when speaking. How can it be that the two novels, both designed to frighten readers, can go about doing so, and succeed, while using very different types of threats? As culture changes through time, so too do the threats that people find most frightening. For that reason, Dracula was written to scare using individual threats while World War Z does so using threats to the individual. Both novels are effectively frightening because they are reflections of the culture into which they were written. Continue reading
The John D. Unruh Award is given to a research paper from the ares of the humanities and the social sciences that reflects the highest qualities of undergraduate research and writing. Inspiration Point is pleased to present the winning essay of this year’s contest!
At the turn of the 20th century, America had learned the taste of power: she had faced the challenges of the western frontier and settled the land from coast to coast, forced the Native Americans onto reservations to make room for “progress,” laid miles of track for the great network of trains, and was muscling her way into the world as a dominant power. Society was alive with the feelings and sentiments found in Carl Sandburg’s 1914 poem “Chicago” when he writes, “Come and show me another city with lifted head singing / so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.” A generation of self-made men was preeminently taking control as Andrew Carnegie turned America into the largest steel producer in the world, and John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust dominated the petroleum markets. It was a time of innovation and the birth of the American Dream: that all men might achieve prosperity through hard work and determination. It was in this age, too, that the infectious atmosphere of possibility took root in women in the beginning stages of the American feminist movement.
In July of 1848, the first women’s rights convention was held, the Seneca Falls Convention during which a Declaration of Sentiments was signed, stating the resolution for women’s voting rights. In May of 1869, Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association and by the turn of the century, several states had begun granting women the right to vote. (talk about Victorian era family life and how voting pushed against women’s place in society) The Victorian Era was nearing to a close at the end at the turn of the century, and it is in this age that Kate Chopin and Edith Wharton wrote novels featuring women protagonists. In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, written just six years apart, the female main character struggles with her role in life. Though Lily Bart in The House of Mirth is set among the elite wealthy in 1900s New York and Edna Pontellier in The Awakening moves among the Creole in late 1800s New Orleans, each feels constrained by the identities dictated to them by society and seeks to establish an individual self apart from the roles both women are expected to fulfill. Lily and Edna achieve some amount of success at obtaining an individual identity outside of marriage or prescribed roles, but, curiously, both commit suicide at the close of each novel. Some critics have declared their deaths to signal the characters’ defeat against the patriarchal ideologies at play in their lives. Their suicides were not a signal of resignation, however, but rather the fulfillment of both characters’ quest for autonomy. It is in their deaths that they ultimately transcend over society’s expectations and limitations and experience a certain redemption in their journey for an individual identity. Continue reading