Writer of the Week (2/8/21): Owen Badecker

Owen is a senior at Murrow, longtime pianist, enjoys playing video games, avid reader/writer.  

And check out the author’s reading!

Interview with the writer:

Q: What was your thought process for coming up with this poem?

The assignment I received asked me to write a poem based on a painting of my choosing. I ultimately ended up choosing Van Gogh’s Starry Night as the base for my poem. I made sure to study the painting thoroughly. I paid just as much attention to the types of buildings within the paintings, as I did with the ominous strokes Van Gogh used to depict the night sky. I also did research on the origins of the painting, and found out that it depicts Van Gogh’s view from his asylum room. However, despite all the research I did, the painting still came off as incomprehensible to me. The painting was expressed in such a surreal manner, both through Van Gogh’s frequent use of swirls, and through its strangely rough style. I couldn’t help but feel like I’d never gain a concrete understanding of what Van Gogh was truly attempting to express. As I wrote the poem, I wanted to channel my confusion into my writing. I wanted the poem to be nonsensical, just as the Starry Night was to me. The last stanza of the poem was meant to depict my frustration with Van Gogh’s painting, and with many pieces of art in general. That is, my frustration with the fact that only the creators of a piece of art hold an undeniable interpretation of what their creation represents. Everyone else can only have an interpretation that’s molded from their own biases. 

Q: When did you become interested in writing?

Writing class always stood out to me ever since I entered grade school.  It was the class that provided me with the most freedom. Unlike my other classes, it wasn’t centered around memorizing bloated terms or specific formulas. Instead, it was centered around expressing my beliefs and imagination. Throughout my entire life, I’ve always been obsessed with exploring alternate scenarios. Writing gave me an outlet to do this. While I didn’t have the patience to truly immerse myself in writing during elementary school, middle school changed this. Throughout middle school, my mind went through a lot of changes. I began to have more complex thoughts and feelings towards various aspects of my life, and more than ever, I needed an outlet to express them. Because of this, my interest in writing began to peak during my years in middle school.

Q: Who is your favorite poet/author right now? Why?

My favorite poet right now is Sylvia Plath, because of her ability to set a striking tone throughout her poems. In many of Plath’s poems, she uses various references from historical events and mythology to create a morbid tone. In particular, her references to the Holocaust have garnered scorn from critics. While I understand how such references would be insensitive for some, I believe that they’re essential towards projecting a feeling of pain on the reader. Given how many of Plath’s poems revolve around the deterioration of her mental health, these morbid references convey a feeling of helplessness and suffering that’s unparalleled by other poems. Ultimately, it’s Plath’s boldness as a poet that causes me to admire her poems so much. 

Q: You are a senior in The Writer’s Institute. You have been through a lot! What was your favorite moment in a Writers Institute class?

My favorite moment was when our class had to interview the teacher in my journalism class. The teacher made us play out a scenario where we were journalists interviewing people that witnessed a murder. He played the role of multiple witnesses, and we were required to take notes on what he said. It was entertaining to watch everyone scrambling to jot down whatever he was saying. 

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