Two of our Exec Board Members explain what the Garden - and the Club - mean to them.
by Megan Neeley, Literary Garden Vice-President
|Megan collecting postcards for Emily Dickinson's |
birthday celebration in Amherst, MA (Dec 2019)
I would have responded with a long list of how the garden has impacted me in ways no one could have imagined. Yes, it has enhanced my educational experience. Yes, it has given me a second family. Yes, it is a therapeutic experience to be in the garden. And yes, it has been an amazing club for allowing me, and others, to reach out to the community. But, overall, I have always loved reading, and to see authors physically shown in a garden that I am a small part of, is amazing. I mean, seeing Emily Dickinson’s work represented by the blooming and growing Harrison’s Yellow Rose brings a whole new perspective to how her work has also grown and stayed present in the lives of high school students, today.
|Emily Dickinson's roses, March 2021|
“We have Harrison’s Yellow Roses to represent Emily Dickinson, a poet that has never failed to inspire me and my peers with her depictions of hope, love, life, and even death.”
|Emily Dickinson's roses in full bloom (courtesy of Dr. Jane Eberwein, distinguished professor of English, emerita, Oakland University, and internationally renowned Dickinson scholar)|
|Sunflowers for days! (Fall 2020)|
So yes, to those that have no idea what this club entails, the Literary Garden Club may seem obsolete in the grand scheme of things, but trust me when I say, there is nothing in my high school experience that has already impacted my life outside of the four walls of WBHS like the Literary Garden has.
by Daniel Wisely, Literary Garden Committee Chair
|Megan, Dan, and the other LGC students hosted Gerri Chopin Wendel, great-granddaughter of Kate Chopin, known best for her daring early feminist work The Awakening (March, 2020).|
Pivot. My least favorite word in that damned dictionary. It's a word that’s been overused to death in the past year. It’s a skill that’s become essential in our ever-changing world. Pivot used to be a Ross Geller reference and although it may lose me some Gen Z street cred, I know Friends quite well. When people say it today, I visualize David Schwimmer yelling at his friends beneath the weight of an oversized couch. We, as a society, are Ross Geller. Shouting commands at each other and just praying that something will work. We’re manifesting a way to get out of our sticky situation. The coronavirus is the couch. Big, heavy, and a royal pain in the butt. It’s become more than we expected it would be. For me, a three-week spring break amid a hectic sophomore year sounded like paradise. Little did I know this couch would continue to break my back over a year later. Despite my loathing for this horrible new concept of pivoting, one thing keeps me grounded: The Literary Garden.
|Fall clean up, 2020|
I laugh when people ask me to explain the Lit Garden. How do you explain something that’s one of a kind? You don’t. You can’t. So instead, I flash a grin and say it’s a club at West Bloomfield High School. I note our connection with the Michigan Hemingway Society or list my favorite of the dozens of authors represented within our organization. The problem is…
that’s not Lit Garden. Not to me, at least.
|Poster making for Homecoming, Fall 2019|
|Hosting Kurt Vonnegut Museum Director of Education Max Goller |
at the West Bloomfield Public Library, November 2019.
The Literary Garden is a safe haven. A calm within the storm. It’s getting dirt under your nails while, for the first time in your day, taking a breath. It’s sounding your barbaric yawp in the middle of the woods with a chai tea latte in your hands. It’s screaming questionable song lyrics at the top of your lungs with the people you love most. It’s euphoria and peace and warmth all wrapped up in a bow.
|Winter Walk, Feb 2021|
As Uncle Walt said: “I am large. I contain multitudes.” I’m just thankful to be one of the multitudes the Lit Garden has the audacity to accept. I’m honored to live, breathe, laugh, love, and drink overpriced coffee with our lovely garden.
|Haunted Lit Garden, October 2019|
|Fall clean up, October 2020|
I reckon I don’t know if I’m ready to pivot again any time soon. Knowing myself, there will be some eye-rolling, some rated R words, and stress-induced Starbucks runs. I’m okay with that because one thing always brings me back: my connection to the garden.
|First fall meeting and clean up, September 2020|
|March 2021 - HOPEFUL!|
It was there before I got to West Bloomfield and, assuming I do my part, it will be there long after I’m gone. For now, the garden and I continue to grow together. I sure hope you find a place to grow as unique and welcoming as mine. We’re a lucky bunch, us Lit Garden kids, always growing and exploring together. And if you’re reading this, maybe it's a sign to blossom with us.