PostPostSecondary: 1 (Edited)

by Nic Olson

Although fate/the admissions department did not permit me to enrol in English 252 at the University of Regina, I haven’t lost all hope. I still have the desire to practice writing, to try new methods and styles, and to walk through the same exercises as those students who are lucky enough to pay $700. Since I no longer have a group of peers to ‘workshop’ my writing, I thought that I would use this forum to present my works and encourage readers to workshop with me through comments, criticisms, and suggestions, while I try my best to keep up with university due dates. Preceding each post I may explain the exercise to clarify what exactly I am doing. But I may not. Thank you for bearing with me and my childish dream to become decent at something.

Assignment 1 put simply: describe the photo below in a prose-paragraph. A mini-plot is permitted. Use imagery.

Please take a seat. He sits square to the stool, causing his shoulders to push up like a wooden frame. His neck ducks under his dusty wool jacket, drawing in to hide from the blade of punishment. Under a swelled coat he hides his his long-known theft. It professes extravagance with a wide lapel and heavy fur collar, but mirrors destitution—too large, with dust and holes. He has seen, stolen his share and his face shows that his mind hasn’t let him forget it. His body, however, still holds, unwavering. Hands higher, please. In reverence, his hands are clasped. Wrists shackled like his ankles, yet the chains are concealed by the coat’s deep cuffs. It wasn’t I who imprisoned him. It was those hands. Still limber. Unfocused. Chin down. Through the viewfinder his chin and lips seem to become bald and the sides of his face become bushier, scruffier—the winter coat of a wolf. A glance at the frame suggests anger and hatred, as his tough/tucked upper lip represses appeals to my human goodness. A longer look. His right eye pleads, although content. His left eye loathes in the shadow of his angled eyebrows that pray to God. There is a modesty there, a humility, but I cannot tell if it is natural or inflicted. There is wisdom when one reaches the depths. Now look at the camera. 3, 2, 1. Flash. Snap. Next.

Photograph of John Roman. Photographer unknown.
Collection: Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, “Prisoners 1871-1873”