Rebecca Lauren Gidjunis, MFA
Rebecca Lauren Gidjunis
Lecturer & Director of Writing Across the Curriculum
Joined Eastern: 2007
I am moved by contemporary poetry, particularly that which is written by those in the margins and speaks truth to power. For example, I am an avid follower of VIDA: 'Women in Literary Arts’ movement to create space for female writers in the publishing world.
Besides creative writing, I am interested in gender studies and serve on the faculty of Seminar by the Sea: Gender Studies Summer Session. This unique summer course in Oceanwood, ME, is a safe space for women and men to study literature and psychology through the lens of gender.
My other research interests include inclusive, creative pedagogy and well as the literature of Pearl S. Buck, a much-overlooked writer with some fascinating works on faith and identity.
Professional Experience and Passion
If you couldn’t tell by my profile picture, you would know within five minutes of being in my writing classes: I love llamas. I also love photography, traveling, and, of course, poetry.
In graduate school, one of my professors said that poetry, at its core, is communication. I have never forgotten that sentiment. As a poet, I write in order to communicate, to say the unsayable. My work tends to center around untold family stories, the mystery of faith, and the bizarre but magical coming-of-age experience.
I have had the opportunity to communicate with many readers through publications in literary journals, as well as through the publication of my chapbook, The Schwenkfelders, in which I’ve reimagined the history of my German ancestors’ religious persecution and their subsequent immigration to America.
Perhaps one of my favorite experiences with poetry was when I was invited to a professional recording studio in Philadelphia to read my poem “In the Fifth Grade Locker Room,” which would appear in the anthology Poetry Speaks Who I Am. A year after the book was published, I met a teenage girl in Virginia who said that she loved my poem so much that she put it on her iPod and listened to it often. Somehow, in this awkward poem about changing bodies and loving ourselves, I had communicated grace. This, to me, is poetry.
Courses Frequently Taught
Introduction to Creative Writing
Postcolonial Women’s Novels
Seminar by the Sea: Gender Studies Summer Session
MFA, Creative Writing, Old Dominion University
Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, Old Dominion University
Selected Recent Publications and Presentations
2013, “Sunrise,” Cold Mountain Review
2012 “A magnificent imperialism of the spirit”: Pearl Buck’s gradual redemption of her missionary father in The Fighting Angel and Pavilion of Women,” Northeast Regional Conference on Christianity & Literature, King’s College
2012 “Creative Writing Exercises as an Alternative to Outcomes-Based Learning in the Composition Classroom,” 33rd Annual Spring Conference on the Teaching of Writing, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA