By Rachel Miles
On March 25, eight senior creative writing students read pieces they had prepared for an audience in Pickle Lounge. The event was hosted by the English Department and the Creative Writing Program at Roanoke College, and additional thanks was given to Channing Johnson, the secretary of the department, Dr. Paul Handstedt, creative writing professor, and visiting writer and professor at Washington and Lee University, Dr. Lesley Wheeler.
Before the reading, there was a reception with refreshments and an opportunity to speak with the presenters, faculty, and other students. About halfway through the reception, Dr. Robert Shultz came to the front and popped some champagne, toasting each senior and commemorating the time the professors had had over the past three or four years to get to know the students as writers and as people.
Before the reading began, Dr. Melanie Almeder introduced Lesley Wheeler, the visiting author, with comments she had found from Wheeler’s own students praising her abilities and character. She proceeded to thank again all involved in making the event possible. Wheeler introduced the readers with haikus she had written about each one, pithy seventeen syllable pieces drawn from what she had learned about each of them over the last couple of days.
The readers presenting that afternoon were Andrea Benson, Hillary Ferguson, Taylor Fitzpatrick, Larry Forrester, Nick Fritz, Chalalin Giron, Julia Lee, and Sarah Palmer. They presented a mix of poems both personal and humorous, portions of fiction, and creative nonfiction pieces. Some pieces took the writers years to complete, while others were recently written. Topics varied from leaves to grandparents and from timely poems that explored risky topics to tragic moments captured in words.
The event was successful with filled seats and additional students, faculty, and guests standing in the back in order to hear the excerpts from the collections of the soon-to-graduate writers of Roanoke College.