Concluding Remarks

I have officially finished my 120 hours of project time. I’m happy about the result of the project, but I’m even happier to know how much I’ve improved as a result of the project.

I divided my project into three parts: history, interviews, and poetry. In each of these sections, I feel like I’ve matured.

With regards to history, I knew very little about my hometown and the entirety of Greene County. As I’ve mentioned, I came to William & Mary openly making fun of Ohio. I wasn’t impressed by the people there, or the culture. I didn’t really care for the Ohio State fans who harassed me about being a Michigan fan. (I’m still not big on that.) But once I set aside my preconceptions, I could start to dig in and discover the beauty of the region. After learning about the stories of so many ordinary people turned heroes and about so many heroes who were ordinary people, I realized that I could be proud of my home state. There’s so much more to this place than soybean fields.

With regards to interviews, I had never officially done one before this summer. I had to step up my game here, and despite some minor setbacks, I did. I feel much more confident asking people questions now than I did at the start of the summer. Most people are happy to help with interviews. The interviewing process also gave me a closer look at Greene County that helped me appreciate it all the more. It’s one thing to find trivia on Wikipedia; it’s a completely different ballgame to get normal people’s answers direct-to-recorder. It was much more personal and much more rewarding.

With regards to poetry, I have discovered the joy of altruism! Writing about myself is fine, but writing about other people feels better. Other people have experienced too many wonderful stories to ignore, and when I write about them, I feel like I’m doing a service. Besides that, writing about other people gives me the challenge of empathizing with those people, stepping into their shoes and into their brains. I hope that I’ve met that challenge. I hope my poetry does a good enough job of capturing the identity of Greene County and its people–past and present.

Thank you to Dr. Adrienne Petty for all of her help as my advisor, to the Xenia Library for collecting so much historical information about Greene County, and to all the people who were willing to answer questions.

(I should mention, I did not write about the recent Dayton murders. I saw a sign in Dayton today that read, “Our grief is not a commodity.” I’m not going to use the event to my gain. The shooter was from Bellbrook, a town in Greene County. It struck home, to say the least. We’d appreciate any prayers for the families who are suffering.)

Comments

  1. Hi Ben,

    I read the poems you included in your third post, and they look really great! I’m impressed by anyone with the requisite creative juices to write poetry, because it’s always a tightrope walk between being obvious and being opaque to the point of meaninglessness. You navigate that very well, as far as I’m concerned. I love what you say about occupying the perspective and the voice of someone else. It truly is a difficult but rewarding task, and one that it seems to me applies not just to writing but to how a person lives their life. It’s easy to think that you have all the answers and that you’re always right, especially because from your own perspective that might be true. But not all truth is completely objective, and different situations carry different significance based on your identity and life experience. One of my government professors last semester told us that with analytical writing, the goal is for the author to take him/herself out of the picture so that an essay effectively transmits information directly into the reader’s brain, as though there were no intermediary source. It seems to me that with your poetry, the goal ought to be the same–when I read your poem about Jesse Ransbottom, I feel like he, not Ben Heath, is speaking to me through the space of 170 years. You have done an admirable job at this challenging task, and congratulations on a well-realized project!