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When Real Life Art Meets the Creative Writing Class Room

Last year, in Michele Papa’s Advanced Creative Writing class, one of the everyday classroom assignments turned into an unforgettable life experience. She advised groups in the class to write a poem corresponding with a piece of artwork of their choice. One group, Aniqa Islam and Elizabeth Framski chose a photograph by the professional photographer, Wander Aguiar. The picture was Juanita Williams, a breast cancer survivor. Islam and Framski each made poems for the piece and wanted to share it in the school’s literary magazine, Contact.

Papa encouraged the students to try to contact the photographer, in hopes to approve of the piece being published. Several days later, Papa received a positive response from the photographer. He was supportive and enthusiastically helped the two writers get in contact with the beautiful subject– Juanita Williams.

Monday October 23rd, the four: Papa, Aniqa Islam, Elizabeth Framski, and Juanita Williams, were in contact via phone call conference and I was there to record it all. After almost  a year passing, this beautiful survivor, Juanita Williams, was ear to ear with us.

Just like her emails with us students, she was a sincere and light-hearted person. The four of them spoke about her health, her appreciation, her day to day life being a mother of two, and everything in between. Countless times, she gave thanks for the uplifting poems put into the magazine, claiming, “you put my feelings into words,” and, “I cried the first time I read it.”

Juanita Williams was a breathtaking soul, beautiful in the artwork and on the phone conference, as well. This was an exciting moment for the students to get in contact with their muse and will forever be an unforgettable moment for everyone in the conference room that day. To read more of the actual conversation, buy Woodland’s literary magazine, Contact.

“I’m out here surviving.”

“Go for your dreams and come from your heart. You guys wrote from your heart with my peace and I am so proud.”

“You have inspired me in so many ways.”

“I hope your find more creative pictures to find more i——.”

2701 Highland Ave APT E National City CA 90550

“Always remember write from your heart and soul.”

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