Antonella “Bird”

Plan II and Psychology

In a poem I read for Poetry on the Pond, Czesław Miłosz asks “What is poetry which does not save nations or people?” And a few lines later, he answers his own question saying that this
kind of poetry would be, among other things, “readings for sophomore girls.” Now, being one who identifies as a sophomore girl, I was a bit offended. And though I think it is fair to be miffed at the inherent sexism in the response, when I looked up the definition of “sophomore,” I had to hand it to the poet. The word has roots in the Greek tradition of sophistry, a practice in which rhetoricians use their skill with language to craft winning arguments, regardless of their truth or validity. The word is a strange combination of sophos, meaning wise, and moros meaning fool.

And what a wisefool year it has been!

I cofounded the UT Austin branch of American Conservation Coalition, started working as an administrative assistant at Deep Eddy Psychotherapy, began researching literacy development among indigenous peoples in Peru with the President’s Award for Global Learning, and worked as a research assistant alongside Dr. Samuel Gosling and Azuka Odiah studying the use of AI technology in the field of architectural psychology. I learned how to climb rocks (badly), brew kombucha (mediocrely), and make London Fogs (excellently). I shot my best friend’s album cover for her debut single, composed music for another friend’s awardwinning short film, and added a nearlyobscene amount of vinyl to my collection.

These all seem like wise, good things, don’t they?

Well they are, but it’s also true that we learn just as much from foolish things. And while I probably shouldn’t list all my failures in detail in the same way I listed my successes, I think the picture I’ve painted would be lacking the depth my sophomore year really brought me if I didn’t include how, in between all of those incredible opportunities and adventures, I let people down. I was anxious. I burned myself out a couple times. More than a couple times, I wasn’t a good friend, sibling, partner, or daughter. Just like a sophist, I have a pretty list of accolades to convince you I’m the savviest of them all, but I would like to be a poet. A poet would see this year for what it was: a wild hodgepodge of wisdom and folly. And, for all the growing pains that came with it, isn’t it so much better that way? Through the help of the Dedman family, I’m acquiring the tools, experiences, and education I need to one day write poetry, do work, or produce research that saves nations and people. For now, I’m so thankful for my Dedman mentors that support me along the way, for the conversations about life and art I get to have with my fellow Dedman scholars, the delicious meals I get to cook with my cohort, and for another year of learning ahead.