Creative Student Spirit Thrives Across Disciplines

Creative Student Spirit Thrives Across Disciplines

Submitted by Sherry Cook Stanforth, Ph.D, – 30 March, 2021

Since light sparked the darkness, people have struggled to venture beyond familiar designs and territories. The pandemic situation has complicated ideals of innovation and invention for many of us, inspiring that “I just need to survive this” state of mind.  And yet, two Thomas More students, Emma Blake (psychology) and Rachel Schultz (chemistry) are embracing another interpretation—one held by 20th century French artist and cubist innovator Georges Braque, that “Out of limitations, new forms emerge.”  Why stop at the English 322 poetry assignment in my class?  Why stop at one’s own disciplinary quest?  Why not “explore more” in the liberal arts spirit of true blue Thomas More University?  Emma learned the formula for writing a villanelle (a 19-line fixed form emerging in Renaissance times) and, true to her mindful and analytical career path, crafted “The Hard to Swallow Pill,” a melancholy verse which she promptly handed off to chemistry buddy, Rachel, who heard a song inside the lines. Of course, Rachel felt inclined to mix discrete substances with an eye toward unique reactions… 

…and that is how “The Hard to Swallow Pill” song was born in our overly-busy, super-virtual, semi-flat times. The story features a little bird passing on ancient wisdom.  Emma notes that her villanelle’s lyrics call for “a truth that the listener needs to hear—the speaker essentially asks the listener to hear out the swallow as a last request.”  With that said, she invites people to bring their own interpretations to the experience. 

Rachel perceives a lesson lingering inside “a song that warns the listeners….The truth is hard to hear at times hence ‘the hard to swallow pill.’ But once one accepts the truth for what it is, then one is ‘saved.’”

Both of these students feel determined to rupture the binary in order to embrace their right- and left-brained curiosity.  A future social scientist, Emma finds inspiration in “anything that I can craft a scene around or apply to some character or story. There was certainly something fantasy-like going on for this one.”

And when not wearing her white coat and facial shield, Rachel loves painting pictures through melodies and instruments. “I love it when music has a deeper meaning and when that deeper meaning is conveyed through a musical piece. The emotion in music and art in general inspires me to do my best to live up to the Greats.”

I view the collaboration between friends as a sign of continuance during a time when endings often dominate the narrative. Some people do not settle for gray—they stir up color and light. The makers of our times inspire us to leave our mazes and be curious-minded, both in and out of our familiar places. I am honored to work with these two students, and I interpret their creation as a generous reminder to build and wonder, day by day. Enjoy this beautiful composition of words and music created by members of the Thomas More family!

The Hard to Swallow Pill

Listen now to the swallow’s ancient song.

Oh, listen to it share the age-old tale.

Listen you to its voice, it won’t take long.

I ask you, if tomorrow I am gone,

though frightened by its tone, its eerie wail,

listen now to the swallow’s ancient song.

Your memories are not the gentle fawn.

They hide behind misery’s shallow veil.

Listen you to its voice, it won’t take long.

But so be it if it still makes me wrong.

If I must, then I will go far, set sail.

Listen now to the swallow’s ancient song.

Because I knew its heartache all along,

I hear the swallow’s sorrows without fail.

Listen you to its voice, it won’t take long.

But even in death, may its song keep strong.

Ill words of the dead make your will grow frail.

Listen now to the swallow’s ancient song.

Listen you to its voice, it won’t take long.

(Nature vector created by ddraw –