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Claire Doll Uses “Words to Paint” How She Sees the World

Katherine Stohlman Pieters, C'19

Claire Doll

Just before Thanksgiving, Claire Doll, C’24, woke to the news that one of her short stories, “The Stillness and the Change,” had been accepted for publication in Capsule Stories. Doll has received at least 12 such notifications in the past two years, but she is always excited to get this news regarding her submission of poems, short stories or works of creative nonfiction. She’s always had a creative drive and a talent for expressing herself in writing, and the relationships she’s made with professors at the Mount have helped her to hone her craft.

A native of Hampstead, Maryland, Doll is an honors student majoring in English – certification in secondary education, with a minor in creative writing. Impressed with the Mount’s School of Education, and intrigued by the small, rural environment, Doll began at the Mount in 2020. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, she quickly got involved in Lighted Corners, the award-winning student-published creative writing journal, first as a staff member, then as assistant editor-in-chief, and this year as editor-in-chief.

She’s worked as a peer tutor, and in the Writing Center. She hopes to put these skills to use teaching English to middle or high schoolers after graduation, especially “to help students who struggle especially with their reading and writing due to the setbacks of COVID-19,” she shared.

Doll’s own love of writing drives her to help others with theirs. When asked what she enjoys about writing, she described it as something that “allows me to preserve moments and images in my own, unique voice. In short, I use words to paint how I see the world, which is pretty amazing.”

In finding her voice, she’s also found success. As a first-year student, she submitted two creative nonfiction pieces to Lighted Corners, “The Antique Shop” and “Polaroid of My Mother.” Both caught the attention of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and she went on to earn a Gold Circle Certificate of Merit from the Association. This past January, she won first place in two categories, Short Story and Poetry, in Delta Epsilon Sigma’s bi-annual writing competition. Her poem was published in their journal in the spring, and her short story will be included in this fall’s journal. She even spent this past fall break attending writing workshops at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival.

“Claire’s success as a writer on- and off-campus is remarkable,” shared Tom Bligh, Ph.D., an English professor at the Mount and director of the creative writing program. “Claire has distinguished herself as a perceptive reader and an active participant in writing workshops, as well as a gifted student and writer.”

It’s an appreciation Doll returns. She credited her English professors at the Mount with helping her to put her work out into the world. “The Mount English Department has especially helped me find different opportunities to grow in my writing! Dr. Bligh has given me countless literary magazines and writing contests to submit to, and he has given me so much support in running Lighted Corners on campus,” she exclaimed.

 Her desire to attend a small university proved immensely helpful. It’s the individualized support and instruction she’s received in her small classes that have helped her thrive. “Through classes such as Fiction Workshop taught by Dr. Bligh, Literature and the Environment taught by Dr. (Jack) Dudley, and The Catholic Novel taught by Dr. (Carol) Hinds, I have gained important critical thinking, analysis, and writing skills. Overall, the entire Mount English department is so helpful in providing support and opportunities all throughout your time in college,” she noted.

Her latest work, “The Stillness and the Change,” which was published in Capsule Stories on December 1, describes waking up on a winter’s morning and opening the curtains to see freshly fallen snow. Capsule Stories is a quarterly-published, print-only journal featuring poetry, creative nonfiction and short fiction by writers from all walks of life.

Katherine Stohlman Pieters, C'19