Students interested in creative writing will have an additional opportunity to publish their work later this year due to a new program in development by the English department.
The program Random Acts of Poetry was created in collaboration with the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta and student writing organizations like Main Street Journal and Blue Pen Creative Writing Society. Random Acts of Poetry will involve posting student poetry at various locations on campus and Main Street each semester. Submissions are currently being accepted.
English department Chair John Ernest says the idea for the project was inspired by his experience encountering a poem by one of his favorite authors while traveling on a bus in Miami. "I have seen other things like this and so I wanted something that would get poetry across campus and around town, because I think it's such a great thing to be going through your day and suddenly encounter a poem that makes you pause and think, or smile or whatever," Ernest says.
As one of numerous projects Ernest says he plans to start, the hope is that the English department will be recognized as a place where students can gather for intellectual discussion and release their creative selves, he says.
Senior Mary McKeegan, treasurer of Sigma Tau Delta, says she and the other officers of the chapter were enthusiastic about the project since the chapter hasn't been very active around campus in recent years. "We jumped on it because it was a good way for us to get involved in the English department and on a greater scale on campus," McKeegan says. "I think we wanted to find a way for our members to publish their work and getting involved with other English majors that might want to contribute."
Although it is important to involve English-affiliated student organizations and their members, Ernest says students from any major who want to express their creative side are encouraged to submit their work. After submissions are collected, board members of the creative writing organizations and other English students will participate in the selection process, he says. "I'll need to have the final say just because it represents the department, but I would really like students to be the ones who are narrowing it down to some final choices," Ernest says.
Since the project is so early in development, Ernest says, the locations where the work will be posted have not been arranged yet, but there will be an opportunity at the end of the year for selected poets to read their work. The poetry series is meant to be an annual event, he says.
Junior Dylan Buller, treasurer of Blue Pen Creative Writing Society, says he hopes to see a wide variety of poems from students that will leave an impression on the university community. "A lot of poetry has beautiful imagery and description, but a lot of it also has the capacity to motivate and inspire people regardless of where it's coming from and can leave a lasting impression that can invoke something within the reader," Buller says.
Ernest says those published through the program will gain the satisfaction of seeing their work out in the open and will have an advantage if they wish to become established poets after graduation. While there are various outlets for students to publish their work, Buller says what he believes differentiates RAP from publications like Main Street Journal or Caesura is that it allows the general public easier access to a writer's work. "It's the ability to put your work out there in the public and not something that someone is going to have to go out of their way to buy or pick up from a certain location," Buller says.
Although the program is still in its early stages, McKeegan says the goal is to get the work posted this semester. By doing so, readers will see what their peers are doing and can start thinking about different issues and be inspired to write their own work, she says. "It's in the beginning stages, so we don't exactly know where it's going to go, but we definitely have an idea of where we would like it to go," she says.
Originally published October 7, 2013 in The Review.