Literary event a way to dispel stereotypes of GED scholars

Amadeus Smith

Similes, metaphors and little couplets describing sad pears and burning sulfur filled Room 310 in the Student Center.

The GED United Scholars student organization sponsored “The Ohio Writers and Poets Exhibition” last night, its first major event.

The seven-hour marathon of literary professionals and amateurs was intended to accomplish two things: promote the published authors, as well as student writers, and promote the General Educational Development group.

“We want to get our voice heard and get rid of the negative stigma that comes along with the GED,” GUS President Bridget R. Stuntz said. “We don’t want to be seen as high school dropouts.”

Stuntz explained that many people going for a GED were home-schooled or were international students, not just lazy kids unwilling to learn.

Tearing up when she spoke about the GED hardships, she said she first noticed the stigma when a woman told her it was unfair that she had to take state tests to earn a degree and Stuntz didn’t.

The student writers who read at the event are members of the GED group. Senior English major Mallory Lorman, who acts as secretary for the group, read a selection of her poetry.

“My home is never static. My home is not home,” Lorman read in a steady voice from her poem “No Definition.”

Lorman, a member who isn’t a GED recipient, initially thought of sponsoring the event while working in the Ohio Literacy Resource Center.

Heidi Bauer, junior English major, said the event was appropriate for the GED group because a majority of its members major in related subjects.

“A lot of the students in the group are English majors and education majors. I think that is why we have chosen to have this as our first major event.”

Her poem “You Can Not Taste Me,” which was inspired by the 1977 mini-series “Roots,” describes the burning of sulfur. She said sulfur repels the smell of human excrement used on profitable tobacco fields in some areas.

The event also featured six published speakers including photographer Gary Harwood and author David Allen Hassler who worked together on “Growing Season: The Life of a Migrant Worker.”

It featured Masood A. Raja, author of “The King Buzzard: Bano Qudsia’s Postnational Allegory and the Nation-State,” as well as Katherine Blackbird, author of the Wick Poetry chapbook “White Sustenance.” Randall E. James, agricultural agent in Geauga County, also read from his book “Why Cows Learn Dutch and Other Secrets of Amish Farms.”

Robert Miltner, associate professor of English at Kent State Stark campus, read various poems from his 10 published books, including “You Know What They Say About Pears.”

“At night, the pears, Bartlett and Bosc, Seckel and d’Anjou, cry themselves to sleep, sad from being the shape of teardrops, tongueless bells unable to celebrate, quotation marks fearing there is nothing inside them to say,” Miltner read.

Miltner said students with GEDs are some of his most dedicated students, often more dedicated than those with a high school diploma.

“Sometimes, they (high school graduates) are just there to stay on the family insurance,” Miltner said.

He co-authored the book “New Paths to Raymond Carver” with Sandra Kleppe, who earned a GED and is an associate professor at the University on Tramsoe in Norway.

“She earned a Ph.D. She is published. And, she is now working in Norway,” he said. “If there were not GED programs, where would she be?”

Contact School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport reporter Amadeus Smith at [email protected].