By Katie Webb Arts & Entertainment Editor
“I find in myself and others there is a sense of expectation; the idea of living up to expectations of your family, your community, yourself,” said Nolan Meditz.
Meditz is a graduate student pursuing an MFA in creative writing. He expresses an existential thought that unfolds within his poem “A Seat by the Fire.” As the narrator goes for a run, a theme within Meditz’s work, he passes a homeless family. Taking refuge in a church parking lot, they tell the runner they are waiting, but not for him. An allusion to waiting in a religious context is apparent. Yet, a deeper sense of waiting courses through the piece.
Meditz is acknowledging a universal experience, the identity crisis. Everyone works through how they are seen in order to find who they are. But the poem, though not overtly tender in remarking upon the family standing out in the cold, has warmth. A child in the family strikes a match to start a fire, perhaps rekindling something within the reader.
Though his poem conveys a person unsure of himself, it is clear, if not yet to Meditz, that this poet has found his identity. As a writer of poetry, prose, choral pieces and even a graphic novel in the works, his passion for language is palpable in each verse.
The poem “Opa” has a line that reads “Tell me how you remember, the town you sculpted with your bare hands.” An ode to his Grandfather, the piece speaks reverently of a man who built his own life and raised Meditz, caring for him while his parents worked, a constant companion throughout his life.
His adoration of the written word stems, in part, from his Opa.
An immigrant from Gottschee, now a Slovenian municipality known as Kočevje, his Opa brought his culture with him, particularly his dialect of German.
“I grew up loving this language, and part of my love of language and part of the reason why I got into poetry was because, even though I wasn’t taught it as a child, I was brought up in this sort of bilingual atmosphere,” said Meditz.
He studied German here at school, and has taken to thematically writing about his family’s culture as a way of preserving it.
“Having a family history that isn’t readily identifiable with people, someone says Gottschee and no one knows where you’re talking about … it is something that should be remembered,” said Meditz.
His content, though of a personal nature, is relatable. Each piece reads like an internal monologue, not cluttered with pretentious diction or flowery sentences, but simple and honest writing.
In conversation, the way he speaks is carefully measured, weighing the value of what he is saying. He precisely picks the right words, pausing, almost unwilling to speak if it means uttering a word that doesn’t perfectly convey what he wants.
The same care is given to the choices he makes in crafting his writing. But with poetry, the work is wont to wander off in its own direction. His mentor and advisor Phillis Levin, a professor of English, imparted this to him.
“She often refers to what the poem wants, what the poem needs, as opposed to what the writer or the reader wants. It’s communicating on a certain level, and it has it’s own trajectory even if that’s not what the writer intended,” said Meditz.
Another professor that was instrumental in Meditz academic career was Professor Erik Brogger, graduate director of the MFA program in creative writing.
Meditz’s program is holding an Open Mic Night to benefit Island Harvest. He, along with fellow graduate and undergraduates will be reading original work. The event will be held Tuesday, Dec 17. from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. and has a $2 entry fee or a non-perishable food item.
“As the artist essentially in control of what is in front of him, he cannot view what he created as perfect, and he would always want to change it. Converse to that, I can’t see what I’ve written as perfect, but I’m okay with it being imperfect,” said Meditz.
Check out the event details here: