Briar Cliff Alumni Share Writing at the Phil Hey Reading Series
April 1, 2019 | by Asi Tupua
Reading and writing is a tool for many people to express their emotions. Many people go through trials and tribulations and need an outlet. The Phil Hey reading series that was hosted in the Meis Recital hall was an example of how writing empowered two former students at Briar Cliff. Both students have had their work published in the Briar Cliff Review and have many pieces of work published for public display. “It’s inspiring to have two great alums from the department present,” said Dr. Ryan Allen, head of the department of modern languages. “Not only do these students know how to read and write an express themselves, but they know how to share it with the world, and give meaning to their landscape.”
Angelica Mercado, alumni from 2016, was the first to present and shared poems from her newly released novel, Todo Revoluncia. She also has a poem published in the Americas emerging poets 2018. Her work is a reflection of what life was like growing up with a Hispanic background. “My Pa lost his tongue, somewhere between the Rio Grande, while chasing the American dream, he didn’t notice his absence,” said Mercado. “What came out was more white noise than melody.” She’s describing how her father is changing and adapting to the American culture while withdrawing from his Hispanic culture. Mercado also talks about the roles of men and women in her culture. “Men cannot swallow the whole concept of love, they don’t give they only take.” said Mercado. “They only know of colonizing water, land, bodies, bodies…” said Mercado. She explains how men don’t give her respect. She wants women to take pride and be themselves. “I am gifted in incomparable blessing, I am voice, I am beauty, I won’t let them take pride in my magic,” said Mercado.
Melanie Krieps Mergen graduated from Briar Cliff in 2017. She is working on her memoir “Finding my Father” while also producing music. Her latest album “Metamorphosis” was recently released on all streaming platforms earlier this month. She credits the Phil Hey reading experience for her passion to write. “This event was a special experience when I was a freshman and maybe I do want to make a career out of it.” said Mergen. Her memoir that she recited from was a coming of age story for her. “My dad passed away a few months before I was born, in different points in this book, I’m asking myself “who am I, and who do I want to become?”” said Mergen. “I’m also asking who is my father, and what does that say about me?” Mergen talks about what life was like, living on a farm, to transitioning to Sioux City and then to where she currently attends, Colombia University in New York City. She states that being in New York has inspired her to become a better writer.
There are many values that can come from being an English major and finding enjoyment in writing. “It’s not just about the readings. It’s not about the writing It’s about what they do for all of us” said Dr. Allen. They bring comfort and allow people to connect and share emotions with each other.