My Reflections: Donald Haase

Once again, I must greatly express my deepest gratitude to Lehigh University and the English Department for allowing me to meet and speak with yet another author. Mr. Donald Haase, a man with a dry sense of humor and a knack for elaborate analysis of the art of storytelling, came to speak at Lehigh about his study of the Grimm Brothers’ Fairytale stories and how they impact the roles of society and children’s perception.

Mr. Haase spoke of many different roles the Grimm Brothers have played in the way society and morality have been shaped. He made references to Red Riding Hood’s original tale of a girl who disobeys her mother and suffers the consequences. He expounds on the idea that the Grimm Brothers’ original work addressed the need for morality in society. Much of the Grimm Brothers’ work has been transformed to fit the roles of a particular society in which the text is read. I recall the first time I read author Stephen King’s essay titled, “Now You Take “Bambi” or “Snow White”- That’s Scary!” and I immediately correlated the ideas Haase spoke about. It explains the purpose of transforming the Grimms’ writings. Many readers of the Grimm brothers’ work believed children should not have been learning that Rapunzel’s prince only climbs the castle walls, using her locks, for a late night rendez-vous. Haase speaks with intention when he explains the multiple roles the brothers have in mainstream media and fictional works today.

Much of Haase’s presentation focused on the ways the Grimm brothers’ lives have been romanticized through media outlets. He conveys a message that was present in the Grimm brothers’ lifetime and is still prevalent today: the romanticism of real issues to convey a more socially acceptable idea. I’m sure many people who work as artist of all mediums can relate to the ideas of being told what is socially acceptable to display and what is not. In following what society believes as correct or morally justifiable, artists are able to make money and sell their work to the masses. The Grimm brothers’ focused their original works on adult audiences, as Haase told us, but were willing to adjust their works because it would allow the tales to transcend all audiences and create an aura of fame for them. The collective work of the Grimm brothers, and I hope Haase would agree with me when I say this, has shaped the way many scholars, artists, and people view the society they dwell within. It has taught them to cope or understand barriers created against them in a constructed normalcy.

My Reflections: Edward P. Jones

I had the pleasure of attending a reading and Q&A by Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward P. Jones. The experience will be one I, as an aspiring writer, will never forget. From the moment Jones walked on stage with a slight swagger to his step and his untamed beard, it became evident that the man had a profound way of living. Mr. Jones wasted no time on warming up his audience to his natural mannerisms and behaviors but rather, hurriedly informed them that he would be reading particular sections from his book “All Aunt Hagar’s Children.”

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Author Edward P. Jones | Photo Credit: flickr.com/NYUCreativeWriting

His narrative voice, as well as the natural tenor in his own speech, resonated through the audience and conveyed a strong sense of realism that connected him to his writing. The slow and rhythmic pace of his storytelling developed a southern tone to his narration. Jones control of narrative voice to be personable and believable. Before he began to read, he had informed the audience that what he read from his book would be brief. However, that was not the case. Jones became lost in his readings as he continued on for page after page to convey the entire purpose of his writings.

While I watched him read, I noticed he never removed his eyes from the pages of the book. That missed action made it questionable if he cared to interact with people rather than confine himself to his own world. Thankfully, the Q&A was much more insightful than his natural body language. People, including myself, asked questions about how he finds his narrative voice, the setting and time period of his stories, and what makes him decide to write. Surprisingly, he did not fill the audience with a trite answer that he writes about reality and that he writes everyday.

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Mr. Jones simply stated that he wrote with a narrative tone of his mother’s voice and a time period to which he relates. He also said that living in solitude has given him space for his imagination to venture out.

Jones has left me with the understanding that in order to become a better writer and connect your audience to your work, you have to find your internal voice before you can create one. My understanding of his approach to not writing from real life experiences is that writing from reality does not work with your internal voice, because reality is not something you have written. Surfing through Netflix, imagining why an upstairs neighbor paces the floor, living in solitude, are just a few aspects of Mr. Jones’ life that he shared. By reading his works, one would believe him to be a man of many experiences, livelihoods, and ambitions. However, there is realness about the observant man that makes his introverted personality not resonate through his work, but rather his extroverted ideas to do so instead. Through the help of Lehigh University, Mr. Edward P. Jones was able to come teach me this: imagination is within you, and how you interpret and explore the idea is what makes your writing become plausible.