Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts- Written Communications


Creative Writing

First Advisor

Michael Castro

Second Advisor

Glenn Irwin

Third Advisor

Harry Jackson


Black-Eyed Peas and Cornbread is a collection of autobiographical stories covering the period of my childhood in the mid-I950's and into adulthood. The stories describe my recollections of growing up in different regions of the country and the formative experiences that shaped me. Its sub-title could read "Passages" because the stories recall pivotal events that influenced the directions of my life.

The idea for this story began forming when I was enrolled in the Literary Non-fiction course for the Lindenwood College for Individualized Education. This cluster program contained a section on "Memoir and the Personal Essay" which was taught by a teacher with a passion for the written word. The design of the course was to instruct students on how to tell the stories of their lives in ways that made the ordinary appear extraordinary, using whatever dramatic or comedic style necessary to create a masterful work.

Another dimension to Black-Eyed Peas and Cornbread was achieved through the use of poetry. Poems introduce each story and are designed to set the tone for the message expressed in each memoir. The idea to merge the memoir pieces with poems followed soon after taking the Creative Writing cluster that included an emphasis in poetry and expressive writing. Blending the two genres enabled the stories to create a deeper richness and establish a stronger connection between the characters and the events.

Creating this particular written project required several processes: developing a plan that took the stories from their natural beginnings to a conclusion. analyzing how best to tell each story using description and dialogue while maintaining a consistent narrative voice throughout merging imagination with factual reporting of real events, and telling each tale in a creative and engaging manner. Additional support for the development of the stories was achieved through interviews of persons described in the stories, thereby enabling added story dimension and depth.