Ask, Tell: Documentary Poetry on the Experiences of LGBTQ Military Members
Donofrioo, Gabriella Lyth
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This project was conceived as an exploration of the experiences of LGBTQ military members serving under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. When I first asked to meet with Di, I didn't have a notion of how my interest in the subject could (or would) turn into a creative writing project. Immediately upon mentioning my desire to speak directly with the people who were affected by this policy, Di reached for a book on the bookshelf in her office - Mark Nowak's Coal Mountain Elementary. In this text, Nowak weaves excerpts from various texts into a revealing narrative on the lives of coal miners and their families after mining incidents in both China and West Virginia. The sources of the text are published interviews with miners' families, news articles on the mining disasters, and the American Coal Foundation's curriculum for schoolchildren. The testimony that Nowak uses are verbatim from the people being interviewed, a concept that inspired both my project and the SIP of one of Di's previous advisees: Genevieve Leet Gigi traveled to Thailand to study coral reef decline, during which she interviewed locals, tourists, business owners and park rangers on Lipe Island in the Adand Archipelago. A portion of her SIP was "'quote poems,"' as she called them, taken from selected sections of her interviews. Di suggested that I could do something similar, and thus the project was born.