English 10: Writing Portfolio


Catholic Memorial High School



Creative Writing  

Dear Mr. Peter Reading,

I would like to start off by introducing myself. My name is Vinny and I am a sophomore at Catholic Memorial High School in Massachusetts. I am in a British Literature class this year and I find it very introducing. We have entered in the section of contemporary writers. Well first thing is that your work is amazing. In writing this letter I hope to interest you in coming to our school. The way you write your poetry is unlike any other writers. I find it unique how you use classical metres in your work. For example in “Fiction” you expressed your feelings and showed all the types of skillful techniques.

I also noticed you were inspired by a trip to the U.S. in one of your books. You encountered the style of living that southerners live by. The book “Marfan” was written after your stay in Marfa, Texas. "The restless spirit of the dead Apache," I found that line interesting on how u used to describe the past descendents. You have been a very successful writer and have won many prizes and awards. In your latest work “Homo Sap.” you write about the natural beauty world.

Since our class is learning about British Literature. A way we would get the best understanding of it is have a real British writer teach it. It would be a real honor if you could come and read your work and explain it to us. We would really benefit from you knowledge in British Literature. This is going to not only help those in who do not understand it but also give those who are interested in British Literature a treat by having a real writer come and talk about his work. Maybe this would inspire one of us to become a writer some day. I know it is really out of the ordinary but if you could come this would be really nice. Thank you Sincerely, Vincent
































The Irish folk song "Fairy Hills" was written by Turlough O’Carolan in 1728. The original version of the song was written in Gaelic and called Si Bheag Si Mhor. The title of the song means the big fairy hill or the little fairy hill and based on a story told to kids as a tall tale. This song was believed to be one of the first compositions of Carolan. Fairy Hills was written on the local legend of wars being fought by two fairy armies. The society at the time was at the age of great tales and fables were very popular. This song and many others helped to entertain the people and tell their version of their story. They used music and tall tales to help keep themselves entertained.

Turlough O’Carolan was born near Nobber in County Meath in 1670. Like most families during this time he grew up in a small farm. When Turlough was fourteen the family moved to the Roscommon-Leitrim district for a job that his father John was given. He later worked at an iron factory during his teenage years near Aldersford. The owner of the factory Mrs. McDermott Roe noticed that he was intelligent and had him educated with her own kids. He was struck by a disaster in his life when was blinded by smallpox. During this time the only way to make a living for a blind person was to become a musician. So he learned how to a harpist in four years and later became one of the greatest composers in Irish history.

The song Fairy Hills was written based on stories of a war fought by mystical fairies in the green fields of Ireland. O’Carolan was inspired to write this song after hearing it from one of friends. The song was written in two parts. The melody was composed first and the lyrics to the song was later written and added. Fairy Hills was written to entertain people and make it a fun way to tell a story.

The format of the song is like a small story and a poem. In every verse the first two lines of the song always rhymes with each other, “Long long ago in this ancient land, A battle took place where two hills now stand.” The other noticeable format of the song is that the last verse is always about how the battle was never won by either sides of the fairy army, “For neither the battle was won.” Each stanza of the song tells a little piece of what happened each fight.

Turlough O’Carolan wrote Fairy Hills to help keep people entertained and tell stories. He took a classical story and turned it into a folk song and gave it a fun way to be told. During those times there were no PS2 or television and the only source of entertainment were books and stories. People would tell stories to help daily life go by faster. Many stories of dragons and fairies were thought of and still told to this day.

 When you think of great classical music composers we usually think of Beethoven and Mozart not Turlough O’Carolan. He did not make a big impact on the way music was written today. His success was more recognized back during the 17th century by composing over two thousand music pieces and doing all this when he was blind. Some of his melodies were used by other Irish music composers. Many great music composers came up during this time period but there are some that are over looked and Turlough is one of them.



























It started out like a normal day for all that lived in Oklahoma City. Everyone is unaware of the tragic event that is going to take place that very day. The events of that day would take place in the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building. Two men by the name of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols would take the lives of 168 people that day. It was April 19, 1995 and many awoke to a bright sunny day. McVeigh and Nichols plotted to try and take down the Federal Building in the city. They pulled up to the building in a vehicle full of explosive and left it there to be blown up. These men believed that they could play God and choose whose life they would take. With all the weapons and ammunition they had. McVeigh and Nichols felt that they had power to accomplish their plans.

When these two men were charged with the crime people were in shock to find out that Americans were behind the attacks. As the country watch the destruction of what has happened and bodies being pulled out, McVeigh and Nichols were charged for the bombing and killing 168 men, women, and children.After the bombing investigators tried to answer the question of why these men would do such a thing. When McVeigh was questioned why he would do such a thing he answered “ I was avenging the deaths of Branch Davidson and Ruby Ridge who were killed by agents.” He believed that his friends were killed by agents in Waco, Texas so he decided to do the same by killing those in the Federal building. He wanted to let the world know that he too has the power to take away some ones life. The attacks took place on the two year anniversary of his friend’s death. Also the bombings were modeled to represent a plot of a white supremacist book called The Turner Diaries. McVeigh was asked if he showed any guilt of what he did and answered to the police that “ What I did was the right Thing and if I had to do it again I will.” This is the words of a true murderer who shows no emotion.

Even though McVeigh received most of the attention there were others involved. His partner Nichols and another accomplice by the name of Michael Fortier were also charged. Nichols was with McVeigh the day of the attacks and helped acquire the weapons and explosive used in the attack. He was a member of McVeigh’s 1st Infantry Unit and assigned to Fort Riley in Kansas. Nichols has said “He did not sell the weapons and have done no such thing.” Fortier the last member received the least amount of punishment. Fortier said “He helped the pair survey the building in anticipation of the attack.”The attacks have happened recently within our lives and we witnessed attack that was much greater. These men were convicted and are wither now serving or have received their punishment. Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to be executed by lethal injection on June 21, 2001. Nichols received life with no parole and Fortier got the least with only 12 years in prison. The victims of the family believe that, “ Fortier has served enough time and hope that he is a good citizen now.” These men killed people who were innocent and did it because they believe they had the power too.

The attacks that McVeigh and the others took part in can be connected to those of Guy Fawkes. In 1605 he plotted to assassinate King James I and the House of Parliament. To do this the Westminster Palace was to be blown up. This is very much similar to the bombings of Oklahoma in 1995. Fawkes has become a figure in history that is recognized in literature and entertainment. A movie has been recently made called V for Vendetta where the basic plot of the story was taken from the attempted attacks of Fawkes. We know that this act played an important role in British history and literature. Writers began to write about the events and stories with similar motives of characters causing tragedies.

We can learn that the events of the Oklahoma bombings have happened to others before. People have lost their lives to men who believe that they have the ability to choose who lives and dies. These men had the sources and utilities to carry out the act of creating terror and a sense of power over others. The act shows the government that they don’t have the power to stop even two normal civilians from stunning the world.





























There are 6800 known languages in the world spoken in over 200 countries. Each language is used between people to communicate. This shows us that translation of a language can be very difficult. The English language has changed over the years into a more modern and unique language that is adapted to our lifestyle. Each word in the English language has taken on several different definitions. Many new words have been added and the dictionary is expanding every day. English is one of the main languages in the world. The English language has gone through many changes in its long history. For example the word “hell” has been with the language since the beginning. “Hell” has changed over time to adapt to our society and the customs in our lives. The word has a religious meaning and is powerful word. It holds a sense of power when a person uses it and holds a strong meaning behind it. The society has changed the word and now uses it as a more hurtful word.

To get a better understanding of how the word is used by ordinary people today I surveyed people about the word “hell”. I received almost the same definition from most of the people that participated. Most used “hell” as a noun and in a religious way. “The dark underground land for bad people,” was the definition that Hailey Harraghy gave me during the survey. I noticed that the definitions given by all the participants had some kind of religious aspect to it. The terms had something to do with a place where peoples souls go after there death. 60 percent of the people that gave definitions were teenagers and it shows that we all think alike. I also got a unique definition from one person. Eugene Stancato used the word “hell” as slang, “What the hell is going on.” This shows that modern times changing the way the word was being used.

We find the bible uses the word numerous times throughout the New Testament and Old Testament. It is translated from Hebrew when the bible was finished. The first time we see the word “hell” in English was as early as 825 from Vesp. In the sentence, Psaller cyme dead ofer hie and astigen hie in Lelle Lifzende. We see that this was in Old English and spelled differently. For example in Old English it is spelled “helle” and in modern English it is spelled without an e, “hell”. This is evident when you read literature from different periods of the English language. We see it in one of the earliest books written in Beowulf. “fyrene fremman feond on helle,” this was in line 100 of the story. In 1667 John Milton uses the word numerous times in one of his most famous work Paradise Lost. The most interesting discovery I found was the word being used in slang. In BMX Magazine, a magazine strictly about freestyle biking, it was used as “The ramps nice but slippery as hell.” This indicates that the younger generation is taking it into a new termology.

In the Oxford English Dictionary “hell” was defined as “the abode of the dead; the place of the departed spirits.” We know that this was one of the first definitions given in the English language. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives us “a nether world in which the dead continue to exist.” We still see the word being tied to the dead and what happens to them. This is not true in the last dictionary I researched the word. In the American Heritage Dictionary “hell” is used as a way of expressing ones feeling. “Heck is a euphemism for hell, and like darn[ed] for damn[ed] is considerably less frequent than it once was, now that the originals are getting wider use. But Where the heck do you think you’re going! is still familiar and Standard Casual or Informal American English.”

When I surveyed people that speak another language besides English I found that the definitions of the word were still similar to everyone else. One participant was Ashley Kotowski age 16. She comes from a polish family and she learned to speak it and English at the same time growing up. The polish word for “hell” was pieklo and she gave a definition of “place you go after you die if you’ve sinned.” Another person that I surveyed was Newlton Fernandez. He comes from Cape Verdean family that fluently speaks Portuguese and learned it as his first language. I found that the Portuguese word for “hell” was inferno which is also an English word in the dictionary.

The word “hell” has held a religious meaning to it through out the years that it has been around. It has changed in its use when communicating with each other but still has not change in the dictionary. Even though we do not use it in a religious sense we all still know what the word truly means. Most that I have surveyed or talk to has used it in some religious way. In conclusion the world has changed but the word has not. Through all the research I have done on the word “hell” my knowledge have grown on the word my definition of it have not change. It still remains tied to religion as a place where sinners go enter after death. Though most used this definition not all did. I saw that one or two used it in a more modern way or slang. It seems that the younger generation is using it in both slang and the religious term. This is a small percentage but as the world and our culture change so will this percentile. I believe it will gradually increase and soon be adopted by all.