When I was putting together my application to grad school (the MLIS program at Western), the essay of intent was The Big Thing that almost did me in. I hummed and hawed over it for much longer than I should have. The admissions page asked for “A brief statement of why you wish to be admitted to the MLIS program and how it fits with your goals and interests (no more than one page in length)” and I struggled in my attempts to address my career and research interests–and over eight years of library experience–on a single page.
After asking for advice from a dozen people, a wise faculty member guided me to just tell the admissions committee the truth: that I had too much to say on one single page. So I did. I focused the majority of my essay on my research interests (small and rural libraries as community hubs, and my background in critical theory and its application to LIS) and career goals (moving from a library technician to a librarian, and beyond!) Then I gave these some context: I grew up on a farm outside a village in Cape Breton, and the village’s small rural library and bookmobile were my main source of entertainment. I later spent the first four years of my career working in that library.
The process of condensing what I wanted to say in my “brief statement” is not that different from the process of writing poetry. I gather the main ideas I want to get across, and then they are cut, trimmed, edited to only the most essential pieces. This is also something I’ve been practicing as I tiptoe into the pond of lyric scholarship, a method of inquiry that is scholarly rigorous but creatively written–a poem in lieu of a paper–distilling a compelling argument into its most essential parts, then exploring those parts through lyric and metaphor and other poetry tools.
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