The Happening: Reflections on the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting
Dedicated to the memory of Naomi Rose Ebersol, Marian Stoltzfus Fisher, Anna Mae Stoltzfus, Lena Zook Miller, and Mary Liz Miller
I wrote this chapbook for a poetry seminar at Emory University taught by poet Natasha Trethewey. The tenth anniversary of the Amish schoolhouse shooting had recently brought that horrible day back into the headlines, and I could not stop thinking about the senseless slaughter of so many children.
I could not—and still cannot—understand the events that unfolded on that day in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. These poems are my attempt to come to terms with the violence that permeates the world we live in, through the lens of this tragedy. But beyond that, they were my attempt to find the humanity that still burns brightly, to find the bits of light that threaten to be swallowed by darkness. They were my attempt to find healing and hope for our world as a whole.
That being said, I want to acknowledge that the story I tell here is not my own. I am not a member of the Nickel Mines community, and do not wish to speak for them. The information used to craft these poems have been sourced from various news articles, and I have strived to maintain the integrity of facts and tone as much as possible. The forgiveness and love demonstrated by the Nickel Mines community has been a driving force in my writing of this chapbook. While I emphasize these values, I also want to recognize that the community is much more complex and multi-dimensional than can be addressed in the space of a short collection of poetry.
I hope that I have succeeded in creating a respectful portrayal of the events, people, and emotions shared on this terrible day. To honor the Nickel Mines community, the proceeds from the first sale of this book were donated to those affected by this tragedy.