English 10: Writing Portfolio


Catholic Memorial High School



Creative Writing  

Dear Nick Hornby,

My name is Brian Hickox and I am a sophomore who is studying British Literature at Catholic Memorial High School in Boston, Massachusetts. I was doing homework one day when I came across your name. I was extremely interested in you and your writing preference after noticing the topics you write about; fiction male obsessions and crises and weaknesses. My schoolmates and I would be indeed honored if you came to share your experiences and thoughts of your life and career.

Now that I have ventured on the quest of British Literature, I am working on finding out about the life’s and works of authors. My interests in you are more than any other for a multitude of reasons. Your 2001 novel How to Be Good showed up on www.penguinputnam.com. I had read the first chapter and was ecstatic because of how well it was but also disappointed because only one chapter was offered. Though I am neither a parent nor married, the issues you talked about made it seem as if I were experiencing what the characters were. “I am in a park in Leeds when I tell my husband I don’t want to be married to him anymore.” This being the first line in your novel already sets the state of possible trouble and mystery. “Delivered as if the venom had somehow dripped into our marriage through a leaking roof, and he’d been meaning to fix it….” “Yeah, well. Too late now.” This had to have been my favorite lines because it has such good imagery and depicts the vision of how bad the marriage was.

I am a person who enjoys reading novels. I hope to go to college and have the knowledge of a British author like you. I have not been to the United Kingdom, but I have much desire to venture to a foreign location such as Surrey, England where you were born. After I searched information about you, I saw a title of your novel that stuck out because it was a movie. Fever Pitch is a novel about football fantasies that dissects questions such as identity, outcomes of obsessions, masculinity, and growing up. That is one of the many reasons why I am interested in you and your works.

If you did come to Catholic Memorial in Boston, you would enjoy yourself, the culture around you, and at the same time be comforted. This school community is involved with everyone and is an outgoing institution of learning. Students would value and absorb your thoughts, values and stories if you choose to visit us. Getting a first hand experience with a British author would enlighten and open new doors of thinking in our minds and our choices. Like all your novels that talk about obsessions and crises and weaknesses, it would be great deal if you came and shared stories of your pieces of work in order for our student body to learn more about you. Best Regards, Brian Hickox



















There have been many famous songs in the music history that have altered and changed the way people think and act. One song that happens to fall into this category is “My Wild Irish Rose” by Chauncey Olcott. Many Irish songs have been published and composed throughout the years, but no other can compare to this Irish love song. Although this is an 18th century Irish ballad, the affect on culture that it has had made, has been a great accomplishment in the music history.

Chauncey Olcott , who is the author of this song, was born in Buffalo and grew up with his mother. After training in Buffalo Academy of Music, he decided to follow his mother and fathers Irish heritage and sing Irish ballads. The way “My Wild Irish Rose” was named was his widow, Margaret O’donavan Olcott and Chauncey himself were visiting their favorite place, which is Ireland. As they were walking a young boy walked up and gave Margaret a rose. After asking him the name of the rose, the young boy replied “it’s a wild Irish rose.” While Chauncey was searching for a title of this song, Margaret had suggested this and he agreed. The lyrics of this song have made an impact on people because it has made people think about the way they love and adore each other.

Though Chauncey Olcott was not born in Ireland, he is popular and well known, especially for this song, in Ireland. “But none can compare to my wild Irish rose.” This line from the song is said throughout this work and it expresses and helps the reader learn the lesson of how nothing can compare to the person who you love. “Someday I may win the heart of my wild Irish rose.” This line of the song happens to be one of my favorites because it is expressing the fact that he will do anything to win over the heart of the person he loves.

This Irish ballad is not just a melody that is played and listened to by people. “My Wild Irish Rose” teaches lessons and virtues of love that will join people together. This song also teaches the lesson that possessions are not and should not be as important as the person you love. Bonds that people share could be something such as a coworker, cousin, sister, best friend, or in this case, the person who you love and want to be with forever. Love is not just an item that you can go to the corner store to buy for a quarter and share. Love is a one of a kind affection in which you do anything to show how you feel. This is what “My Wild Irish Rose” teaches to its listeners. That is how this song has affected culture.

After asking ten people at random if they knew of this song, each person replied no. This song has not made its way to most listeners of the United States, but it certainly has in Ireland. This love song throws out the message and significance of love. It shows and displays how if you show enough emotion towards someone, that they will truly be your wild Irish rose. Even though this is an eighteenth century song, it has impacted peoples love, emotion, and feelings that they give to the people close to them. Chauncey Olcott has positively showed in this Irish ballad, how sharing your feelings and respecting and loving each other over any possessions, will make them your own “Wild Irish Rose.”























A former firefighter and medical technician, Richard Allen Kirk, pleaded guilty to first degree rape and attempt of murder. Richard Allen Kirk was your average neighbor, who lived in the town of Snohomish. He was a father of six, married to his wife, all living together in their home. On July 8th, 2005, Kirk was approached by his wife with divorce papers. Kirk got enraged at this and forced his power upon his wife. Kirk took his wife onto the front lawn and forced her into the mini van. His wife desperately tried to get out, banging on the windows, on the other side of which her daughter heard her and called the police. Kirk drove her to a boat launch area at Storm Lake where most of the assault took place. She attempted to escape, but Kirk overpowered her, and then finally letting her go, she ran into the woods. After this brutal attack, Kirk’s wife was unrecognizable. Richard Allen Kirk gave up his freedoms and rights by forcing his power upon his wife, in order to send a message to her.

When Kirk went to his arraignment, he pleaded guilty to this crime and received the longest consequence of 30 years and 3 months. When Kirk signed his plea paperwork, he said that he “took a substantial step toward causing the death of my wife. I did this when I intentionally abducted, assaulted and threatened to kill her.” He also wrote that he was in a rage when he assaulted her, but “I decided to end my attack, leave the area and commit suicide.” Kirk changed his mind about committing suicide and drove to the Bothell fire station he worked, where police were waiting. Richard Allen Kirk new what he was doing the whole time, and it was all driven by power. Kirk said that “I earned my prison sentence.” Many people in the town had no idea that Kirk would do this kind of thing. There was no need for this violent attack, and many people still wonder why and what drove him to do this.

Richard was a head figure in his hometown of Snohomish. He was a working firefighter and emergency technician, supporting his six children and wife. Kirk was protecting these people’s lives and was a role model for some. Who would expect Kirk to do this? Who would expect problems with his marriage and at home? When Kirks wife asked him for a divorce, these questions ran through his mind. The possibility of being town gossip and an embarrassment would hurt Kirks reputation. Kirk could not take this humiliation and forced his wife into the car, later assaulting and raping her. This was his way to deal with this problem and possibility of embarrassment. By forcing and using his power to control his wife, Kirk wanted to send a message and warning to his wife, that this divorce is not going to happen and no one will know about this. Instead of just accepting his wife’s decision, or even working out their problem, Kirk abused his power which affected their kids and relationship.

Richard Allen Kirk’s case relates to the situation going on in the novel “The Souls of Black Folk,” written in 1903 by W.E.B. Du Bois. This novel shows the life of the African Americans after the Emancipation Proclamation. It shows different topics such as poverty, slavery, non proper education, and abuse. Among this abuse was rape. All these African Americans were out of their own will and were forced by power to do what the men and guards wanted. This relates to Kirk’s case because Richards wife was not at will when she was assaulted and beaten. “The former slaves were intimidated, beaten, raped, and butchered by angry and revengeful men.” This quote from the novel relates to Richard Allen Kirk’s case in many ways. Kirk’s wife could be seen as the slave because she was beaten and raped by an angry and revengeful man. Kirk would represent the angry and revengeful man because he was angry at the fact that his wife wanted to divorce him and he wanted revenge on her for this.

Richard Allen Kirk was a well known and well looked upon individual. As a high figure in people’s eyes, Kirk was the average hard working American striving to make his life and the peoples around him better. Kirk was never expected by family, friends, neighbors, or even co-workers, to do this crime he committed. Richard Allen Kirk made the wrong decision to use his power over his wife. Kirk could have simply avoided all of these conflictions by accepting his wife’s decision. Assaulting and raping his wife was Kirks way of showing his wife that he had dominant power over her. Almost killing his wife, Kirk hurt his family and friends. His next thirty years in jail are the outcome and punishment he gets for abusing his power. Richard Allen Kirk destroyed his reputation as a high regarded person, and became imprisoned where he has no more power and no more rights.

































Communication is a key factor in the world today. The base of our communication system is languages, which have existed for thousands of years. Language is a communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written signals. One of the words that have been created throughout history is the word “hippie.” There are many bad words that have affected our language throughout history. There are also many good words that have affected our language throughout history. These words can either be good and un-harmful to people or dangerous and degrading to people. I think that this word “hippie” has been a helpful and dominant word in the language throughout history.

Where does a word come from? How do we know what the true meaning of a word is? The answer is that the way the word is described is through the person’s point of view. Everyone is not going to see and the think the same thing when they hear a word, such as “hippie.” According to the Webster’s New Explorer Dictionary, the word “hippie” is described as “a usually young person who rejects established mores, advocates nonviolence, and often uses psychedelic drugs or marijuana.” In this dictionary, it also means a “long haired unconventionally dressed young person.” This although, is not the only way the word has been described. According to the New American Dictionary, a “hippie” is “a member of a social and political movement advocating such practices as pacifism, has conformity in dress and behavior, and often the use of psychedelic drugs.” Another meaning of this word comes from the Merriam Webster Dictionary, which states that a “hippie” is “a usually young person who rejects the mores of established society (as by dressing unconventionally or favoring communal living) and advocates a nonviolent ethic.” As you can see, the word “hippie” in these three sources, describe the word “hippie” similarly in their point of view.

The way to find the true history of a word is to use the Oxford English Dictionary as a source. While looking up the word “hippie”, I discovered that this way of spelling it did not exist in the dictionary. After searching I realized that there existed other spelled versions of this word. The word “hippish” is a colloquial meaning “more etymologically”(1308). Another version of “hippie” is the word “hyppish.” “Hyppish” is defined as “somewhat hypochondriac: low-spirited” (1308). As you can see from the ways “hippie” was defined, and how it presently is defined in dictionaries, you can conclude that now a hippie is seen as a person who has strong beliefs and uses drugs. Before this, a hippie was seen as someone who has low spirits. Although this word can mean many things, it is viewed differently through people’s eyes.

After searching in dictionaries, I decided to go to the streets and use people as a source to discover how they view the word “hippie.” While asking 16-year-old Joe Milius what his thoughts were, he replied “A person from the 60’s defined by their love of nature and peace.” He used the word “hippie” in a sentence as “The hippie movement was very influential for the United States.” When asking Mr. Kunzman, present Biology teacher, his definition of the word, he responded, “somebody who is relaxed in life, chooses simple living, and who is politically active.” When asked to use the word in a sentence, he responded, “The hippie was seen outside the capital protesting war.” Asking Giovanni Debenedictis his view, his response was “A person who wore tie-dyed clothes and expressed thoughts through various expressions.” He used it in a sentence saying “The hippies had a stakeout over the killing of innocent animals.” After examining my data from these and seven other people, I concluded the following. In all my sources, all the definitions sum up to a person who is very politically active, and chooses to express their strong views in various actions and expresses. 100% of the people had about the same view on this word and used it in similar ways throughout their sentences.

The word “hippie” is a relatively new word. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “hippie” was first used about 300 years ago for the first time (1308). The word “hippish” was first used in 1706 in the Hearne Collection in the sentence, “He is a hippish man and the low church as Principles”(1308). The word hippish was then used in the year 1814 by MAD. D’Arblay, in Wanderer the third (1308). The sentence stated, “Staying within doors gives one a hippish turn.” About 80 years later, the word “hippy” was used for the first time. In 1891, written in the Temple Bar Magazine, the sentence stated, “she led him such an awful life. No wander he was a hippy”(1308). According to these early examples of “hippie” being used, you can tell that it was being used as a way to describe a person who is low-spirited. This differs greatly from the way people view “hippie” as today. This shows how definitions change throughout time.

English has been proven to be the hardest language to learn. I wanted to find out if the word “hippie” was a hard word to learn for someone whose first language was not English. When asking Rina Debenedictis to define the word “hippie”, she responded with a laugh. Then she stated, “A hippie…is someone who feels good about life.” I asked her if it was hard learning this word. She replied, “No, it was very easy.” I asked her if there were any other meanings in her original language of Italian. Her response was simply “no.” After this, I interviewed Alfonso Debenedictis. I asked him to define the word “hippie.” His response was “someone who uses illegal substances to feel good about life.” I asked him if it was hard learning this word. His response to this question was “No of course not.” Finally asking him if there is another definition in Italian, he stated “no.” The last person I interviewed was Roger Petrizzlo. I asked Roger to define the word “hippie.” He said “ahh you stupid, you don’t know what a hippie is. A person who wears tie-dye shirts doing stupid things.” He said it was not hard to learn this word and also there was no other meaning in Italian. From this survey you can conclude that there is no other meaning in Italian. You can also conclude that this was not a hard word to learn and that each person’s idea of a “hippie” is similar to the modern day dictionary definition.

The word “hippie” is used throughout magazines and articles all the time. Some of these sources use the word in different context and some use it like you normally see it. In December 2004, Nick Gillespie wrote an article called “Hippie Heaven.” This article used the word “hippie” in the sentence by saying “You'll find that anecdote, and many more like it, in Hippie, a spectacularly designed coffee table book from Sterling Publishing that is every bit as captivating, colorful, and self-congratulatory as the social type it describes.” This is the first and only time I have seen the word “hippie” to describe a book. Another example of this was written in Newsweek 7/12/2004, entitled “Me Talk Hippie.” This article written by David Gates stated, “The newly revised and expanded "Hippie Dictionary" would have saved us some time back in the '60s.” This is the first I have heard the word “hippie” being used to describe speech. Another example of this being used was written in the Rolling stone Magazine 10/2/2003. This article written by Jesse Jarnow was entitled “Hippie Porn.” A sentence used the word “hippie” by saying “We get a few bits of negative feedback," admits David Levine, who, with his wife, Emma Soji, runs the soft-core hippie porn site EarthMama.net.” This is the only time I have ever heard the word “hippie” being associated with the term and topic of porn. From these examples, this can show that the term “hippie” is used all the time in many different forms and ways.

After researching the term “hippie”, I have come to the conclusion that it is a helpful and dominant word in history. I think that the word “hippie” has been beneficial because it has created a term and somewhat stereotype name for the people who choose a certain living style. This involves people who are politically active, use drugs, and have strong beliefs on many things. I also have learned a lot about language in this research paper. I feel that English should not be the primary language because it is not fair to all the other people in the world. Although English is a hard language to learn, the words that are involved in it are beneficial and have made history what it is. Words such as “hippie” are the foundation of our world. They show love, compassion, hate, friendships, and humor. These words are going to be beneficial or harmful depending on how we are going to use them. This is what makes our history what it is.