An assignment for Moore’s first-year students turned into an epic poem for one.
Dan Callahan ’24 chose to incorporate their love of poetry into their Visual Thinking class project and churned out Phoenix Dawning: A Brief Poetic Romance. The project ended up being 48 pages of iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets and digital illustration.
The class assignment called for creating something that followed the theme of “self.”
“I didn’t have a very good idea at first,” said Callahan, a Graphic Design major. “I was really struggling as I was trying to incorporate the ‘self’ into stuff that I normally do.” Callahan drew a character they called Korbinian, derived from the Latin word corvus, which means “raven” or “crow.”
“Part of the assignment was to ‘combine’ objects to create a conglomerate idea,” they said. “Korbinian was inspired from that process, where I had previously combined an old drawing for a concept of 'Icarus in Love with The Sun' with a pamphlet inspired by the works of Percy Shelley.”
Callahan, who uses the pen name D.L. Cassidy, has been writing poetry for several years, and that sparked the idea for Phoenix Dawning.
“I wanted to write a long, long poem, something that's not just like a one-off,” they said. “I wanted to put effort and time into it, and I think that's a good exploration to the self.”
Callahan wrote in their digital notebook: "Resonating with the idea of Icarus as a mythological figure, and how I relate to him in general, I decided that I wanted to create a sort of ‘subversion’ of the classic Icarus character that would serve to represent as an allegorical mirror of the self.
"Ravens are a symbol of Apollo, but they're rarely directly associated with him; making Korbinian enamored with the Sun is meant to be reflective of my own fixation on concepts of enlightenment and creativity."
The poem burst forth in 200 lines initially, detailing a love story.
“As opposed to me being in love with the sun goddess, or the moon goddess, it's like Icarus falling in love with Apollo,” they said. “But I'm going to twist it a little bit so it's not just like hubris, it's more like a personal growth sort of message. And I really like the romantics and I really like a lot of early 19th century literature.”
Phoenix Dawning is nearly 500 lines long, accompanied by Callahan’s digital illustrations.
“I really want to do sports graphic design,” they said. “I would kill for the chance to work for an NHL team on their graphic designs team and do either print or visual graphics for social media.”
A Visionary Woman Honors Program student who grew up in rural Virginia, Callahan loved art as a child, but considered studying materials engineering. When their first college choice didn’t pan out, they looked at Moore.
“I did a visit pre-COVID, and I really, really liked it,” they said. “I love the school, I love the atmosphere, the city. I really wanted to go here, and I'm very glad I did.”