Student readings start strong
The undergraduate English department kicked off the Creative Writing Student Series on Thursday night with its first event for the spring semester. The event was loosely themed around Valentine’s Day, and was aptly titled “Hearts (And Other Organs).” Three students were featured readers and a few other students participated in the open mic portion toward the end of the event.
Held in The Gladys Schmitt Creative Writing Center in Baker Hall, commonly known as The Glad, the event had a feeling of intimacy and comfort. The lights were dimmed and attendees sat around the room on an assortment of couches, tables, and rocking chairs. Instead of feeling crowded, the setting made the event feel more like a gathering of good friends. The bookshelves that line the walls and the coffee maker in the corner made it obvious that the out-of-the-way location is a favorite of writers.
The series is under new management this semester: Ila Foley, a senior creative writing major; Ines Pujos, a senior creative writing major; and Madeleine Barnes, a senior art and creative writing double major, are now running the series. They recruited readers to participate and ran a raffle after the readings had concluded. All undergraduate students in the English department are eligible to perform in the series, but students can only read once per semester.
Foley felt like event was a success; she remarked that she was “glad to see people come out,” and that it was nice to see “lots of familiar faces.” Since the event is held in such a tiny space, the audience was fairly small. However, all members of the Carnegie Mellon community are invited to attend and enjoy some original readings as well as pizza, soda, and candy.
Thursday’s readers were senior creative writing major Brian Sherwin, junior creative writing major Austin Moyer, and sophomore creative and professional writing double major Anna Albi. Their prepared works, along with the pieces shared by the few students who participated in the open mic portion, made for an enjoyable evening. Barnes described the night as being filled with “vivacious readers and lots of crunching candy hearts.”
Since most in attendance were affiliated with the English department, there was a real sense of community and support for one another throughout the evening. Foley described the series as “good community building,” and the post-show environment supported her description. Patrons talked, joked, and ate while the pink and red streamers that decorated the walls were removed and the lights came back up.
The series definitely started off on a high note. Two more events are scheduled, with the final reading taking place at The Frame toward the end of the year. This last event in the series will showcase all of the senior creative writing majors.
Although it is nice to maintain a special bond within the English department, it would be nice to see future events marketed to the broader Carnegie Mellon community. Perhaps next time the crowd will be even larger and more varied, so more students can watch these writers share their work.