Marc-Joelitza Montgomery (Joelie) is a columnist for bardVERSE. She is the recipient of the 2019 Achievement Awards for Spanish and Chemistry, and a two-time recipient of the Achievement Award for Literature.
bardVERSE: What’s easiest for you when creating an essay? What is more challenging?
Joelie: The easiest thing for me to do when writing an essay is interpreting quotations. I love figuring out the significance of quotes and how they connect with my essay. I also enjoy finding meaning to quotes that are hard to interpret and/or commonly overlooked. Interpreting quotes is one of my favorite parts about writing an essay because it gives the writer a chance to share her thinking and add her own flavour. Anybody could use the same quote, but not everybody will explain it the same. So when you explain a quote, it gives you room to truly use your voice.
The most challenging thing about writing an essay for me is staying on topic. Many times when I’m getting ready to write an essay, I find out that there is so many things I want to write about, yet all my ideas don’t connect. This causes me to struggle in the beginning of the writing process when it comes to making a thesis and finding quotes. Luckily, over time I’ve learned that writing for a few minutes about why each topic is interesting to me and picking the one I seem to have more to say about usually works out.
bardVERSE: What’s been your favorite essay you’ve written at Bard? Why?
Joelie: My favorite essay would definitely be my essay on Frankenstein! When reading the book and most importantly when writing the essay, I was really able to partially answer the questions my teacher proposed in the beginning of the school year: “Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? Who do we want to become?” This essay made me realise that we humans we will go to extreme lengths for love, attention, and our desires such as the desire to fill the emptiness within ourselves. I learned that we are flawed in numerous of ways, such as the way we love and think of love. I appreciated the lesson I learned about toxic relationships when writing my essay. I learned how anybody can start one and teach such a concept to someone else. This essay really hit home to my heart, and I’m very proud of it.
bardVERSE: What’s your favorite book you’ve read at Bard? Why?
Joelie: My favorite book is Frankenstein! At first I thought the book was boring, but as I read on I developed a deep interest and connection to the book. This book brought a lot of insight to me and helped me figure out a lot of things about myself and other humans. I feel like when you really take a good read of the book and soak in the words on the page and engross yourself into the ideas and concepts of the book, you too would feel the same way.
bardVERSE: How do you go about gathering evidence?
Joelie: I find annotating as I read very helpful when it comes to gathering evidence. As I read the book I’ll underline phrases that are interesting, highlight major events, and put certain symbols near parts of the book that connect to each other. I also use sticky notes in my book that contain information of where I can find similar quotes, or I’ll write my thoughts on the sticky notes.
bardVERSE: What advice do you have for writers at Bard?
Joelie: My best advice for writers at Bard is to really express yourself through your writing. Writing is more than words on paper or a letter grade. Writing can lead to discovery, pain, love, healing, confusion, and so on. You should write for yourself, write to learn, write to explore, and write to have something to be proud of.
bardVERSE: Whose writing do you love to read in or outside of Bard?
Joelie: I really enjoy the writing of Natasha Preston and poetry writers such as Rupi Kaur. Natasha Preston’s books always give me an interesting read as they surround the themes of suspense and mystery. Poetry writers such as Rupi Kaur catch my attention as well allowing me to read a piece of writing that makes me think and indulge in self reflection. I love how relatable and personal poetry can be, and I really appreciate and respect the amount of work, heart, mind, and thought that goes into it.
bardVERSE: What kind of writing topics interest you most?
Joelie: Speaking generally, I seem to have a strong interest in topics such as love, hate, loss, relationships, loneliness, and human flaws which consist of the abuse of power, selfishness, anger, and so on. I like to write about things that speak to me personally and that I could learn from through writing about.
bardVERSE: Is there a place or time you usually write?
Joelie: I do most of my writing in my room or at the kitchen table at no specific time. My room provides a comfortable and peaceful space that keeps me concentrated. But sometimes when I’m in my own space, I can get distracted by my phone or other things. When this happens I’ll move my writing space to the kitchen table, where the environment is louder and diverse. But oddly being in this space works out for me just as much as being in a more quiet space would. When writing at the kitchen table, I get a sense of reality and inspiration when seeing the multiple faces and hearing the multiple voices of people who enter in and out of my house.
bardVERSE: How do you get into the mind set for writing?
Joelie: It all depends on my mood, attention span, and timing. Sometimes music inspires me to write, sometimes silence inspires me to write, sometimes the fact that I have to write inspires me to write. No matter the situation, I usually figure out what gets me into the mindset for writing pretty easily and don’t struggle much about getting into the groove.
bardVERSE: What topic would you like to write about but haven’t yet?
Joelie: In the future I would love to possibly write about something that has to do with self love or self confidence, honestly anything about a person’s relationship with their self as well as the themes of grieving, womanhood, manhood, marriage, or whatever ends up catching my attention as I continue to grow as a writer.
bardVERSE: What do you find most gratifying about writing?
Joelie: The most gratifying thing about writing is learning a valuable lesson from your work and having a sense of accomplishment. Writing is such a good way to learn about life, and it’s also a good way to express your ideas and opinions. Sometimes things come out better when they’re on paper rather than randomly speaking about things on spot. Having a piece of your mind written on paper and feeling a sense of satisfaction and joy as well as learning more about how you think and feel through your writing is a feeling so great that it never gets old.
bardVERSE: What do you find most challenging about writing?
Joelie: Personally, staying on topic seems to be most challenging when it comes to writing. Sometimes I feel like there is so much to say about a piece of literature when writing an essay, so maintaining that focus is something that I struggle with. The next most challenging thing would be getting help. I’m in the process of learning that getting guidance for my writing can make my writing more beautiful and help the areas that I may not be able to catch on my own such as my grammar, clarity and focus.
bardVERSE: How do you come up with an imaginative, provocative title?
Joelie: I usually read my whole essay and come up with a few meaningful words that really summarize my essay yet work as a good title.
bardVERSE: Which classmate’s writing do you admire and why?
Joelie: I haven’t read many of my classmates writing, but whenever we do FFWs (focus freewrites) and my classmates publically share what they written, the thoughts and writing of Gini Claudio, Kris West, and Petey Vance really have an impression on me. I admire how much of a personal and relatable writer Gini is, how factual and interesting of a thinker and writer Kris is, and how realistic and relatable Petey is. Honestly I’m proud of my whole class. A while ago we had two days worth of the whole class writing and sharing their ideas, every single person contributed. It made me happy that students who normally don’t share their writing mustered up the courage to share their art work with the class. I admire that and enjoyed hearing them.
bardVERSE: Give one tip for writing a good essay.
Joelie: One tip about writing a good essay is to write about something you’re passionate about or interested in. I advise people to not take a random idea and write for a grade. Write to explore your interest and learn something new. Usually, when you really care about an idea and you spend time on it and pour your heart, mind, and soul into your writing it would be impossible to do bad on a paper. Besides that, to slip in another tip, peer review is very helpful when it comes to the grammar, organization, and format of your essay. It’s also nice to read somebody else’s essay to get inspiration and allow your mind to have some free time and explore another topic.
bardVERSE: Which character you’ve read at Bard fascinates you most and why?
Joelie: There are so many interesting characters from the books I have read at Bard, so it would be hard to pick just one. But if I could pick a top three, I would choose Hera, Cleobule, and Cleobule’s son Phoenix from The Iliad. I wouldn’t say these characters put me in awe, but they definitely make me interested in them and their behavior. I’m very interested in how Hera and Cleobule take advantage of their own children for their own good and I’m also interested in the lengths Phoenix had went for his mother. Although these characters were minor in The Iliad, I wish I could know more about them besides what’s said about them on the pages of the book.
bardVERSE: What current writing projects are you working on?
Joelie: Along with my current required writing projects such as my literature essays, research projects, chemistry magazine project that involves writing, and a dance project that involves writing, in my free time I’ve been working on some pieces of poetry and if journaling counts, that as well!