Sydney Dudley, Phi chapter’s 2020-21 President, had the distinct honor of being one of ten students to be selected as a “Summer Scholar” at Capital University, Columbus, OH, in the summer of 2019. This program is a research position for undergraduate students to design their own project in their field of study with the guidance of their professor.
To apply, the students must submit a proposal that identifies their project, details the process of how to complete it, and provides a forty-hour, ten-week work schedule. This program is not all work as the university provides excursions to the theater and other cultural enriching events; this emphasizes three important social components: to build community and camaraderie, to educate and round out the students, and to reward the students for working so hard.
Dudley’s project was based on studying the Wiccan poet Doreen Valiente. Doreen Valiente was an English author and poet who was responsible for the early liturgies of the Gardnerian Wicca tradition. Dudley explained why she chose to study Valiente.
“I chose her because her I find her lifelong dedication to her art and her craft inspiring. I also was really interested in her in particular because, at the time, witchcraft was a very exclusive thing, but with her writing she opened the doors to so many new people,” Dudley said.
Dudley read three of Valiente’s books, two witchcraft, and one pure book of poetry. She also read Valiente’s biography, a Wiccan history book, and a history book of Britain in the 1960s. All of this research took her five weeks.
The last five weeks Dudley wrote and edited a chapbook length manuscript, which totaled twenty poems. She was mentored by Dr. Kevin Griffith of the English department who specializes in poetry. Dudley described her process of writing poetry.
“My method of writing involves a lot of scribbling! I just write words and phrases that I find appealing, and then once I have those I tidy them up, put them in the form I want, and then see if I can change anything to add alliteration, assonance, metaphor, and all the other poetry devices that I think really make a poem beautiful,” Dudley said.
Dudley would write her poems, make edits to them, send them to Dr. Griffith, receive feedback, edit them more, and repeat the cycle until the poems were of substantial quality. Many of the poems focused on social issues such as war and female empowerment through a Wiccan lens. They are a solid collection of poetry and show the time and effort Dudley put into her craft over a short summer.
This opportunity allowed Dudley to pursue two aspects that Phi Beta holds dearly: art and scholarship. From her scholarship, she produced art and when we can combine these two aspects; beauty is achieved.
In the future, Dudley wishes to publish the chapbook and add a few personal poems of her own experience with witchcraft.