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The Lookout | October 21, 2014

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Age has no bounds for success at LCC

Age has no bounds for success at LCC
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Jeremy Kohn
Co-Editor in Chief

 Dorothy Brooks is a poetry and non-fiction writer who has seen many of her writings published over the years.

She has both taught and been a student at Lansing Community College. In 1999, she taught English as a second language. Later, in 2007, she enrolled as a student, taking creative writing classes.

Brooks, who is now 74 years old, has been writing for half of her life.

Of all of her written work, her crowning achievement is a memoir. The piece is about her time spent teaching others on a New Mexico Navajo Reservation in 1981. The memoirs are entitled “My Sunburned Heart: Making My Way to the Rez.”

The aspiring writer wrote about her varying experiences while on the reservation.

Cultural mistakes, befriending a stray dog and being homesick are all topics of the work. The memoir also relays her frustration trying to finding a bathroom.

Brooks’ memoir also expresses the joys of finally being accepted by the tribe.

“I had a lot of respect for the culture before I ever went there and I came away with much more respect,” Brooks said.

“It was a privilege to be there.”

After much success with non-fiction writing, Brooks enrolled in Writing 118 at Lansing Community College.

“When I took Writing 118 with Dale Herder,that got me started on creative writing. From there, that encouraged me to try some more. So then, I went on to take classes from Dennis Hinrichsen,” Brooks said.

This experience set Brooks on the path to writing poetry.  She has tackled many different subjects in her poems.

Recent subject matters include war, acts of kindness, and the famous Michigan ice storm last December.

Brooks won the prestigious Pushcart Award for 2013 in Hippocampus Magazine for excerpts from, “My Sunburned Heart: Making My Way to the Rez.”

Her first poetry book entitled, “Swamp Baby,” won runner-up in the Wild Leaf Poetry contest. Despite winning, the poet spoke about how difficult it is to get published.

“It’s grueling, you have to be tougher then alligator skin,” Brooks said.

“I get reject letters as high as Mt. Everest,” Brooks explained. “I pull them out of the mailbox and open it up. I stomp around my house for 15 minutes and I say ‘that’s enough,’ throw them out and start over again.”

To catch a live reading of Brooks alongside poet Ann Andrews, visit the Creole Gallery in Old Town on Thursday, April 24.

The reading begins at 7:30 p.m.

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