When most students are taking a break from writing, Trenton Heille ’14 is seeing how much of it he can fit in. Heille can be found writing between class periods, gathering bits of conversations he has overheard around campus.
“I try to take those phrases and play with them, adding and subtracting words, switching word order, constructing other phrases around them,” he mused.
For Heille, conversation is a natural place for poetry to start: “Language only emerges in community, and without language, you can’t have poetry.”
After growing up in Chanhassen, Minn., Heille found himself at Calvin—a place where he could learn more about his loves of literature and philosophy in the context of the Christian faith.
Heille believes faith and poetry are inherently intertwined through the art of writing. “If we consider God’s command in Genesis to ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it’ as a command to develop human culture,” he argued, “then both poetry specifically and writing generally are unique ways of obeying this command.
“Writing poetry requires us to use our cognitive, emotive and even bodily faculties contained in the image of God we all bear. I think it’s no coincidence that God allows Adam to name every animal. Isn’t that poetry, to name creation according to our God-given creativity?”
For Heille, his creativity flows from his active interest in literature. “Reading keeps me writing,” he said simply. “Being an English major helps expose me to writing that I can’t help but respond to, or at least try to. The most satisfying part of writing poetry for me is being able to see the influence of what I read in what I write.”
But while Heille is in tune to the value of well-placed words, he also believes the beginnings of a poem should be far less polished than writers often think. “Play with words and don’t discount any idea,” Heille advised budding poets. “Criticism and revision happen after writing, not before.”
She slept in the passenger seat;
I slept at the wheel, dreaming to the rhythm
of the road,
but as we crested a hill
we opened our eyes to a new sky
spread out like a banquet table
where wine has spilled.
A thousand cherry trees
in bloom –too early–
tomorrow was Easter Sunday
“Can you blame them?” she asked.
I was lost, somewhere in that sky
wondering about the stain