Lauriel-Arwen Amoroso was raised in the Pacific Northwest and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. She is a writer, educator, photographer, and nature nerd. Her favorite way to spend time is walking and hiking, especially in temperate rainforests when it’s lightly raining and about 50°F. Recently she earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Portland State University, where she explored narrative research and embodied learning practices — her dissertation focused on walking as a way of knowing. She is drawn to themes of slowness, placemaking, and the ways in which people connect to and learn from the natural and material world. She is dedicated to dismantling those aspects of education that are used to coerce conformity into unjust and inhumane social, political, and economic systems found in contemporary Western societies. Her writing was previously published in iō Literary Journal's second issue, and excerpts from her dissertation will be published by Routledge in an edited collection on the making of autoethnography, due for release in fall 2022. She is currently writing a memoir.
Here's a few of the creative works that have recently influenced her life and writing:
The Creative Process
For me, writing has almost always been a way to figure out what I think — what’s inside my mind that I can seemingly only access when I write. It’s as if I live an entire other life of subconscious internality, only accessible through unstructured writing practice. Every time I write I get to know myself a little better, and through the unique perceptions of this subconscious self I come to understand the external world in new and surprising ways. Writing provides me with clarity and a sense of self that otherwise eludes me in the day to day. I feel like I’m always searching for meaning and purpose, so I write to make sense of myself, my life, and everything I experience. I also hope that my writing speaks to other people in ways that are meaningful to them.
Check out Lauriel-Arwen's blog, The Perpetual Vagabond, to view more of her writing and photography!
More about Lauriel-Arwen and her flash nonfiction piece, "A Room with No Windows"
My work as a teacher is something I write about because I am still trying to make sense of my experiences as well as the reasons I left teaching. My time in the classroom was filled with trauma, both my students’ and my own. Everyday I witnessed children consumed by emotional and existential pain — and that pain eventually consumed me; I absorbed their trauma like a sponge, unaware that I needed boundaries to protect my young, soft, empathetic heart. I also carried my own childhood trauma — and school was a place where I often felt unsafe. I had thought that becoming a teacher would help me heal old wounds — learn to care for children the way I had needed to be cared for. But, without the proper tools (ones that I didn’t know existed at the time), I had to face my students and their trauma as well as the painful memories of my own childhood experiences each and every day — until it all became too much, and my heart split open, and I stopped going to work, and I spent the next three months in bed, unable to function.
The story I submitted is a window into my last day as a teacher — a day filled with another kind of trauma, the trauma inherent in the expectation of gun violence and school shootings in a society that has given up trying to protect our children — a day I am still trying to understand. I loved teaching, and I was good at it. But right now working in education is infinitely difficult and wildly under supported. I think about what could have been if I had had a mentor, or mental health support, or resources for my students who were suffering. I wonder how many other teachers are leaving the classroom for similar reasons but don’t know how to articulate what they are feeling, or are afraid, or are simply too exhausted to go on, despite how much they care. I often wish that I could have been stronger for my students; but I am only one person and we need everyone's help caring for our schools and our communities so that teachers, children — everyone, can thrive.
I have spent the last three years working to heal from my time in the classroom and the painful experiences in my own childhood. I now have many more tools and resources to turn to when I find myself overwhelmed and dysregulated — including writing and learning to process my experiences with other people. Sharing my writing helps me to feel less alone and gives me hope that my words will resonate with others; and together we can work to make the world a more kind, loving, and just place. While I currently still work in education, there is a big part of me that misses teaching and hopes that someday I can return.
Want to read more by Lauriel-Arwen?
Walking as Way of Knowing: An Autoethnography of Embodied Inquiry
Doctoral Dissertation Published by Portland State University
Flash Memoir Scorpions
Published by iō Literary Journal, Volume II
50 Fungi Facts by Eugenia Bone, pg. 25
Cover Art Photograph
April on Olympia by Lorna Dee Cervantes
Why did you choose iō to be home for your piece, "A Room with No Windows"?
I have been drawn to the work of iō Literary Journal since its inception. When I was young, I was a veracious writer and yet my approaches and my ideas fit poorly into mainstream education — I was frequently told that my writing didn’t follow the rules; that I needed to fit my thinking into rigid structures and formats. I did poorly on standardized writing assessments and rarely received positive feedback from teachers. Even though I loved writing and wanted to be a writer, I had little self-confidence and I assumed that writing wasn’t for me. My freshman year of college a professor told me that I should reconsider pursuing higher education, as it didn’t seem that I was cut out for the academic world. However, I ignored this belittling advice and continued my studies despite the challenges I faced fitting in (and much later — quite recently actually — discovered I am neurodivergent and simply experience, understand, and process the world differently than those who are neurotypical). It wasn’t until I entered my Doctoral program and decided to use narrative research methods that I began to find my voice again; and, luckily, found a community of writers and thinkers who are pushing creative boundaries and telling stories that have been ignored by the mainstream. In their company I found a creative home (and was also introduced to this journal). I now write for the love of writing and because it is a portal into a world that makes me feel whole. I love the work that iō Literary Journal is doing to challenge conventional expectations of creativity while providing opportunities for marginalized and underrepresented voices. I feel honored to be a part of this journal.