The Writing Center is home to many interesting, talented tutors and writers. Jordan Morrow is both. I asked him how he’s grown as a writer. In his typical witty and charmingly sarcastic manner, he responds with: “I water myself once a day and make sure I get plenty of sun.” Then he laughs, but I see there’s truth in his quip. As a tutor in the Marian E. Wright Writing Center for the past two years, he’s given his colleagues and fellow students plenty of sunshine and positivity in his tutoring sessions, reveling in the moments when he sees them grow, too. Jordan isn’t one to brag or show off. He often uses humor to deflect the praise he receives for his work, but he’ll smile though because he loves what he does. It means something to him to know he’s helped someone else.
Jordan is a senior in the English with a specialization in writing program at the University of Michigan-Flint. He’s graduating with a bachelor’s degree in spring, 2019. However, he didn’t wait to get his degree before diving into publishing. He’s an accomplished writer already, winning the Sharon Naught poetry award and publishing a collection of his poetry titled: Nature of the Machine: A Short Story Encoded within Poetry” in 2017. Not only has he been a tutor, but he’s also lead writer’s groups and workshops, helping others pursue their writing dreams, too.
It’s not often that someone has the stick-to-itiveness to do what Jordan has. I asked him what inspired him to write his poetry collection. He said, “Well… words in poetry have a way of saying what others can’t express, or it can offer a connection someone needs. Writing, in general, can give a reader the words they sometimes can’t find for themselves.” Jordan is passionate about helping others, and his writing seems to be a vehicle to both satisfy his own writing curiosity, but also others.
His book of poetry indeed has a story behind it. He revealed that “it’s a story to spread awareness about invisible illnesses. This is the best way possible to give an outsider a way to experience it.” According to the description for his book: “Nature of the Machine…” it’s an exploration of hauntingly beautiful words that gives readers a chance to read poetry through the stanzas of someone living with mental illness, the dysfunction it can be to relationships, and both the bitter and fragile moments caused by its mechanical nature.” Some of his poetry is intentionally hard to read, given the spacing or even code that it’s written in. Still, it’s this intention towards difficulty that makes the poems even more poignant.
Which is your favorite?
“’Precipitate’. I like when it’s read. Something about the flow of it, the way it plays out on the tongue. Fun fact: I wrote it on my phone while waiting in the parking lot before work.” It’s moments like this that I can see a writer at work. He notices details even in the waiting.
I asked him what advice he’d give someone who wants to be a writer: “Don’t think about your writing while writing. I am my own worst challenge when it comes to writing. My wife actually gave me some great advice that I use. She said, ‘Don’t judge your writing until the next day.’ Sometimes, I have to convince myself that my work is well-done. I have to give myself permission to feel proud. Yet, I’ve learned that all writing is practice. It doesn’t matter if it’s a text message or a class assignment or grocery list. It’s all worthwhile. It can be beautiful. It just depends on the way you look at it.”
Jordan says that in 20 years he hopes to be “blooming…a home for squirrels and birds to build their nests.” Again, a witty end to our conversation, and hopefully a very long, successful journey for this writer.
Click on “Nature of the Machine: A Short Story Encoded within Poetry” if you’re interested in checking out Jordan’s book.