more student love: Daniel Blas in the Pennsylvania Gazette

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sometimes I just want to fluff back against a frothy pillow and consider the wonders of my students.

Last week, in the Philadelphia Inquirer, I wrote about Leah Apple, now a Fulbright winner, who has changed the lives of West Philadelphia children through an initiative called CityStep Penn. I wrote a recommendation letter for a gifted bioengineer who spent much of this past year inventing (with others) a device that allows children with cerebral palsy to take their own photographs (he invented, and at the same time wrote remarkable memoir/profile pieces for 135.302). I whispered pretty somethings into the ears of people making decisions about students' futures. I exchanged emails with my Katie, who graduated a year ago and has been working in New Orleans with Catholic Charities as a triage artist (I call her an artist) before she heads off for medical school. In the pages of Handling the Truth, my book about the making of memoir due out in August, my students sing. I wrote that book in large part because I love to hear them sing. Because sometimes I just want to fluff back against a frothy pillow and consider the wonders of my students.

Today I am celebrating the work of Daniel Blas, a tall and slender Whartonite with transparent integrity—a young man who may have actually mostly been studying, say, risk and insurance, and reading, say, the Wall Street Journal, but who never failed to move us with his surprising ironies, his soft-shoe humor, his Calvin Trillin touch. Dan came to my class this spring semester at the suggestion of Al Filreis. He sat in the same chair, to my left, every single Tuesday—steady and just the right amount of sure, conveying Springsteen adorations to a prof just slightly obsessed with her own Springsteen adorations. Dan slayed us with details and structural magic. We wanted more.

Here, in the pages of the Pennsylvania Gazette, is more—Dan's Springsteen memoir (which is actually about Dan's relationship with his concert-loving dad) abbreviated and modified for the Gazette readers. Dan worked with Trey Popp to perfect this piece, and I am over the moon that "Always Wear Tie Dye" now sits in the pages of this fantastic magazine.

You'll read Dan here and you'll be glad you did. And then, if you haven't already read the Gazette-bound work of my other students, I share it all again below:

Maggie Ercolani
Nabil Mehta
Joe Polin
Moira Moody

To the power of the young. To Bruce Springsteen and Daniel Blas and the dad who started it all.


Melissa Sarno said...

Oh my gosh, I love his piece. 'Dancing with a fanny pack? Unbearable.' This is really great. : )

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