For Davon Loeb, the writing process begins with an image in memory. A woman tying an apron around her waist. A boy nervously anticipating his turn to read in class. A boy eating a bowl of cereal while watching Saturday morning cartoons. The image propels the narrative, and as the details unfold, it gains all the moving parts to bring it to life.
Armed with several cups of black coffee and the solitude provided by the early morning hours, Loeb, of Medford, wrote his debut memoir “The In-Betweens.” The book chronicles his experiences grappling with identity, race, culture and relationships. Loeb, of biracial descent, felt conflicted about how to self-identify on standardized tests, how to cope with being the only person of color in his class and how to strike a balance between telling his stories and relating to his audience.
“You need universality in stories. I try to create balance in my writing and present a view of someone that’s not one-dimensional. I don’t want someone to read my book and say ‘I’m not biracial. I don’t get this.’ I want to make sure I’m reminding the reader that they can see themselves in my stories — that they are relatable,” Loeb shared.
Loeb studied at Rowan College at Burlington County before transferring to Montclair State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. He later earned a master’s in Creative Writing from Rutgers-Camden but credits RCBC as where he learned how to be a student.
“When I was in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had to pave a new way that was best for me. Senior year, I took one class at RCBC per semester. It gave me so much confidence and made me feel like I could do this. I had a really rewarding experience at RCBC and wouldn’t be where I am without it,” Loeb recalled.
Now, in his ninth year of teaching, Loeb has come full circle, teaching at both RCBC and Shawnee High School. In fact, his wife (Jennie Sherlock-Loeb, clinical nursing) and father-in-law (Terrence Sherlock, chemistry) also teach at RCBC. Loeb encourages his students to tell their stories through whichever means they can. “The In-Betweens” is even available for purchase at the RCBC bookstore.
“So much of the person I’ve become was shaped by my experiences in college; it was in college when I realized I was intelligent and articulate. I never thought it would lead to me telling my story here now,” Loeb said.
Loeb’s works have been featured in Apiary Magazine, Split Lip Magazine, Harpoon Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Portland Review and elsewhere. He has also been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and one Best of the Net. As for his future, he plans to write a fictional piece set in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. To learn more, visit DavonLoeb.com.