Williams College English Department
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English majors study our many-sided attempts to come to grips with the world in language and story. To find out more click here.
Williams alum and English major Amanda Su `14 has a wonderful new short story out in Guernica, entitled "If You Cut Me, My Mother Bleeds." To read the whole story, use the link in our bio. Here is how it starts:
The first time was an accident. Isa and her mother were paring mangos, unspooling the skins in long strips that they threw behind their shoulders like pioneer girls trying to read the initials of their future husbands. Isa’s little knife slipped past the thick skin of the mango and sliced into her finger. She didn’t bleed. Instead, bright beads of red sprung to the surface on the same finger on her mother’s hand.
What struck Isa later — and what didn’t strike her at six years of age, when you could have told her that her mother had brooded her from an egg sac in an ocean den and she might have believed you — was the lack of surprise in her mother’s eyes. She just matter-of-factly rinsed her finger under the tap and told Isa where to get the Band-Aids.
Later, they watched Winnie-the-Pooh on TV — whose shirt was the same color as her blood, skin the flesh of the mango — and something dripped onto Isa’s head.
Mama, you’re crying.
It’s nothing, Isa.
And so they watched Pooh and Piglet and Roo and Rabbit tramp around in the Hundred Acre Woods, and Isa forgot about the Band-Aid, because it was her mother’s own finger and not hers.
* * *
Isa liked to narrate the story of her birth to her mother.
You were lonely until I happened in your belly.
Yes, I was so lonely that even the maiden who lives in the moon, in the vast and empty halls of night, took pity on my solitude.
She sent you a fairy.
Yes, a fairy.
What did she look like?
She was dressed all in white and had a silver necklace around her neck. She used it to listen to my heart.
It told her that you wanted a baby girl.
The fairy asked me to give her three teardrops, one for each of the things that I hoped you might be. And I cried three big shining teardrops the color of moonlight. One was that you would be wise, one was that you would be brave…
And one was that I would never leave you!
Please join us for an event on 11/13 to honor Louise Glück, who was a member of the Williams English Department for many years. Readings of her work and remembrances by colleagues and former students. Reception to follow. Open to the public. All are welcome. @williamscollege
Majors & Major-Adjacent People! Join us Monday to learn more about studying English & upcoming events & attractions, including spring courses. Pizza will be served and eaten!
Join us on Thursday for a seminar with former member of Williams English Dept. Theo Davis! Davis is most recently the author of Ornamental Aesthetics: The Poetry of Attending in Thoreau, Dickinson, and Whitman
A short department tribute by Prof. Jessica Fisher along with Louise’s poem “The Night Migrations”. Link in the bio & on the homepage.
We mourn the loss of poet Louise Glück, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2020, and who shaped many Williams students during her years as a member of the English department. We are planning a future event to remember her life and work.
Join Jesse Nathan on his east coast tour tonight, reading from Eggtooth! 10/12, 7 pm @sawyerlibrary @williamscollege