By Elaine Ng & Jennifer Bacon
Welcome to a podcast about the poem ‘Melancholy’ written by mentee Elaine Ng and her mentor Jennifer Bacon! This poem is about the impact of COVID-19 on Elaine’s experiences as a high schooler.
By Elaine Ng
This feeling of disgust. At others. And myself—And yet no one is to blame. Why do I blame others?
Perhaps I am the one to blame.
Disappointment. In my terrible fashion sense. I can’t wear blue denim. Maybe I should try new clothes or fashion senses. In my writing style. Maybe this isn’t my true writing style. In my social interactions. Maybe I should talk to more people. Maybe I haven’t found the right people.
Shame. Shame that every time I open my mouth, a weird-looking frog jumps out, mocks me and jumps back in to be swallowed. It’s sour. Sour and bitter as eating a lemon, but only its peel. The juice was squeezed out with stinging hands hours ago; probably to fund some profitable lemonade stand.
Regret. In my choice to play games instead of doing something more important. I get the dopamine. But I don’t get on the path to what I want. I don’t even know what I want. I know this game won’t lead me to what I define as “success.” No. It would lead to some setbacks because I crave it every day.
Desiderium. Ever since it hit, I haven’t been my best self. My best self happened in sophomore year. That was two years ago. It was the time when I conversed happily among my friends, chatted clearly, and felt the healthiest. Then it hit and a good chunk of my life felt gone. I can’t stop comparing myself to my past.
A subconscious fear of failure. There are so many pieces that could have been here. So many Google Docs opened and closed, most likely permanently. Like napkins that are used for short periods of time. Perhaps they are like napkins, forgotten in the pockets of pants, thrown into the rumbling washing machine to harden and become useless. So much time has been spent on those pieces. I wonder where they will go.
Procrastination. One thing I’m sure about is that the subconscious fear of failure leads me to procrastinate. What if I don’t do well? With college, with assignments, with homework, with my hangouts, with my work. But I know that the result would be the same. Then, I feel all these feelings of regret and self-disapproval from procrastination.
What would help me?
Do I keep reminiscing sadly about the lost past?
Or do I keep on going, thinking more about the future?
Perhaps I should stay in the present.
With the knowledge that Jennifer and Elaine would focus on prose poetry, they decided to see how they could expand on this writing with multimedia. At first, the pair thought about turning a picture into a poem or a story and then finalizing the piece as prose poetry. Then, they decided to write out our feelings about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and then turn it into prose poetry and converse about this prose poetry.
Some things they wrote about include their experiences as a high school student and a university professor who bonded together over Girls Write Now. The pair decided to do this podcast because they believe it will speak to many who may relate to these pandemic experiences. Moreover, they decided to do the idea of a podcast because one of their first workshops together was about serial podcasting, an idea that was very intriguing to the pair because of the extended outreach of podcasts. Ironically, although there are more methods to communicate with others in our world of technology, they may lead to less social contact and less authentic in-person communication.
Elaine Ng is a senior in high school striving to pursue a career in data science. She surprisingly likes a combination of peanut butter and pickles in warm panini bread. Elaine envisions a world in which society embraces the combination and desires to convince others of this combination through her writing. She is a proud recipient of the Scholastic Silver Key Award because of her poem "Fresh Vegetable."
Jennifer N. Bacon earned her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her MEd in Special Education from the University of Virginia. She is a Core Associate Professor and Chairperson in Education at Naropa University who has taught preschool-age children through graduate school domestically and abroad. She has also served as an Associate Dean for Naropa College. In addition to her experience in education, Dr. Bacon is an interfaith minister who is trained in the use of poetry therapy, spiritual guidance, and yoga. Deeply committed to addressing issues of overrepresentation in special education, racial and gender equity, child advocacy, and writing for social justice, she participates in a number of professional associations and mentoring organizations. Dr. Bacon has authored numerous articles including, "Writing in Solidarity: The Lived Experience of African American Adolescent Girls Writing Poetry," "Using Culturally and Inclusive Poetry Groups with Diverse Teens," "Culturally Responsive Poetry," and "Examining Teachers' Beliefs About African American Male Students in a Low-Performing High School in an African American School District." Her book Sisters in the Dissertation House: A Dissertation Narrative, addresses doctoral completion by women of color in underrepresented fields. Her book chapter, Academic Mothering: Black Women Mentors in Higher Education is currently in press. Her newest publication, a children’s book titled, I Am an Antiracist Superhero! will be published by Bala Kids in 2023. When not teaching and writing, she can be found exploring the beautiful mountains of Colorado with her husband, daughter, and dog.