By Erin Keating
The first day of the Writing Center’s annual Roanoke Writes Week kicked off on Oct. 20, coinciding with the National Day on Writing, which is designed to celebrate all forms of writing in our everyday lives. Dr. McGlaun, the director of the Writing Center, said, “Writing is so important not only to academic success, but also to things like building relationships, making and sharing discoveries, expressing feelings, keeping records. And yet, a lot of people have a lot of anxiety about writing. They fear they aren’t good at it, or think it seems difficult and hard. The Roanoke Writes events are designed to remind us that writing can be fun, engaging, and playful, as well as intellectually stimulating and expressive.”
The first event of the week was the Literary Legends Photo Booth in the Colket Center, where students could take pictures with famous characters and authors such as the Cat in the Hat, Harry Potter, Scarlett O’Hara, and William Shakespeare. Students could wear costumes and pose with props, such as Harry Potter’s notorious glasses and speech bubbles with famous quotes from various characters. They also had a photo caption contest featuring pictures of writing center tutor Rachel Barton with Shakespeare and Dr. Powers with the Cat in the Hat. The first place winner of the caption contest and recipient of a fifty dollar Visa gift card was Karen Griffith.
On Oct. 21, the Writing Center sponsored the Fave Writers Filibuster where students and faculty tag-teamed to present their favorite literary works on the back Quad. President Maxey started the Filibuster with a reading from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, featuring Atticus’s last speech in the courtroom before the jury decides the fate of Tom Robinson. Faculty also read selections. Dr. Hollis read Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and Dr. Rosti chose a very different piece—and made the audience laugh along with Fatherhood by Bill Cosby. The student readers were Alisa Bidwell, Mack Hopko-Turner, and Frank Geurrandeno.
Guest poet Cynthia Atkins read her work in Fintel Library on Oct. 22 for the third night of Roanoke Writes Week. Atkins read primarily from her book of poetry, In the Event of Full Disclosure, which is about mental health and its effect on families. She stated that although her work seemed to be about mental illness, there was a certain intrigue about that word that allowed people to look at others differently. Mental health, according to Atkins, is something everyone deals with each day, regardless of our mental diagnoses. The topics of her poems varied from “Foundry” in memory of her sister with schizophrenia, to “Vacuum” about her obsession with cleaning. Her reading of “You Should Question” was dedicated to Dr. Hanstedt because they were close friends when she worked at Roanoke College and were part of a group which always did something unusual for their friends’ birthdays. Atkins also described what it was like to write poetry in a digital age and read a new poem called, “My Password” about our dependence on technology, as well as what it is like to create multi-media poetry prompted by videos.
The Writing Center Carnival, the final Roanoke Writes Week event, was Oct. 23 in the Colket Center. The Carnival happened outside of Commons during dinner hours and attracted students from across campus, as it does every year. Prizes were offered for writing-themed games such as Apples to Apples, Mad-Lib, Bananagrams, and Pin the Apostrophe on the Pronoun. There was no shortage of Carnival food either, and students enjoyed popcorn and cotton candy as they played.
Thanks to the participation of the students and the hard work of the tutors and Writing Center director, Dr. McGlaun, it is safe to say that Roanoke Writes Week was a great success!