Eyrn Briscoe checked an item off her professional bucket list, even before she finished her degree.
Briscoe, an English major with a concentration in creative writing, is now a published author, thanks to an internship opportunity with Cherry Lake Publishing, an Ann Arbor publishing house.
She wrote “Amanda Gorman,” a children’s book highlighting Amanda Gorman, a young Black poet who performed during the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Her internship presented her with the opportunity to write the book and Briscoe was eager to be involved with something new.
“I was ready to do something that I’ve never done before,” Briscoe said. “I’ve always had thoughts about publishing, but I never knew how to go about it until the opportunity just fell in my lap.”
Although the illustrator and publishing house were already determined, the process wasn’t always easy. Writing a children’s book includes more restrictions than when writing adult books, including following stringent literacy and early reader requirements.
Briscoe began the book in January with some initial discussions and finished it five months later following a back-and-forth flurry of manuscripts and rough edits.
Aside from becoming a published author, Briscoe gained firsthand experience in the many facets of the publishing industry, from editing her book, marketing her book and even pitching her book at an upcoming releases presentation.
Writing the book and sharing Amanda Gorman’s story was more than an authorial exercise for Briscoe. It also was deeply personal. Growing up, she wished that she saw more successful people who looked like her.
“I remember growing up and reading a lot of biographies about people that were successful, but I didn’t really feel like I had a connection with them,” Briscoe said.
She always had a love for writing and her ability to express herself on paper became not just a creative outlet but a means to escape life’s challenges. Still, even into high school Briscoe saw writing as a hobby and not a career — until a teacher saw the potential in her work and recommended that she study English in college.
This publishing opportunity was proof to Briscoe that her literary skills and the choices that furthered it were valid. And perhaps most importantly, the book is validation over her self-doubt as a writer.
Briscoe credits her success to those who pushed her to recognize that potential and to seize opportunities that come her way.
Her aunt, LaSondra Green, who is a UToledo alumna, shared her love for the University with Briscoe during her childhood.
“I have vivid memories of coming down to spend time with her. It just kind of felt like second nature to choose UToledo,” Briscoe said. “She’s been my motivation throughout college.”
Briscoe became a stronger writer through peer and faculty feedback during workshop classes. Her professor, Tim Geiger, encourages his students to build their skills and fuels their passion for writing.
“He’s really passionate about creative writing and his love for it made me want to be more passionate. It’s admirable seeing someone so well-versed about their craft,” Briscoe said.
Geiger praises Briscoe for always being willing to accept criticism and be objective towards her work, a sign of a mature writer.
“She has a natural eye for the striking image and knows how to engage a reader with detail. In classes she always had great criticism to add towards another writer’s work as well,” Geiger said.
“She was always so outspoken and outgoing that she made the work fun for the whole class.”
After she graduated in December, Briscoe said she would like to get her teaching English as a foreign language teaching license and teach students in Japan for a few years. Then, after returning home, she said she hopes to return to school to earn her master’s degree and become a college professor.
“I’m capable of doing anything,” Briscoe said. “Success is definitely in the cards for me.”
Briscoe’s book, “Amanda Gorman,” (Cherry Lake Publishing), can be purchased on Amazon.com or other online literary outlets.