Observant readers may have taken note of a piece of serendipity in the latest issue of the Philadelphia literary magazine Cleaver: two Mawrters—creative writing major Allegra Armstrong ’17 and Bryn Mawr College Creative Writing Professor J.C. Todd—saw their work published there.
Armstrong’s essay “Maze of the Giant Heart” recounts a post-breakup trip to the Franklin Institute with her ex-boyfriend. “Throughout the piece,” she explains, “my nostalgia for Philadelphia collides with my nostalgia for that relationship. I try to puzzle through why the relationship ended with the limited information that I have.”
Armstrong took full advantage of the writing program by working with Bryn Mawr College professors Annie Liontas, Lauren Feldman, and Dan Torday, and mining the resources of the Quaker Consortium. “I benefited from all the resources that a big school like Penn has at the Kelly Writer’s House,” she says, “while still enjoying the one-on-one attention from professors that someone can only really access at a small school like Bryn Mawr.”
While honing her craft—and submitting her novel and stories to agents and publishers—Armstrong is working for PowerCorpsPHL on maintaining purpose-planted trees that, in tandem with the city’s septic system, absorb excess groundwater.
For her part, Todd, the 2016 recipient of the Rita Dove Poetry Prize, contributed “A day a little gloomy, sky,” a closely observed poem that describes a cheerless day—complete with worn-out clouds and garbled birdsong—and “the anniversary of one of your mistakes.”