by Leah Terry
This year, though, students are reviving the organization. Paul Ricks (C’17) was looking for a place to share his work and to workshop his poetry when he approached Professor Virginia Craighill about the potential for a poetry club on campus. At an interest meeting held during Sewanee’s Fall Arts Festival, the classroom filled with students, confirming the University’s need for this creative outlet.
Students who attended the meeting all had ideas for different things the club could do. Ideas included sponsoring poetry readings, bringing speakers to campus, blogging student works, and working with the campus’s literary journal, The Mountain Goat. Afterward, each of the students read a piece of poetry that they either wrote, or that they particularly admire.
The club is still in the process of forming and has not yet applied for funding. However, one of its main functions will be to host workshops. During each workshop, five students will read their poetry, and express their specific concerns about their work. Then, they will receive constructive criticism from their peers, and if time allows, others will have the time to read from their latest work.
Ricks, whose mother is a poet, said that though he hasn’t concentrated on poetry very seriously until recently, it’s something he’s passionate about. “I grew up with it,” Ricks said, explaining that at first, he had wanted to do something different from his parents. “I’ve been doing it off and on for a while, but I only started doing it seriously toward the end of my senior year in high school.”
Though he doesn’t plan on making a profession out of writing (Ricks intends to major in computer science), he disagreed with classifying his interest in poetry as a hobby. “I think it’s more than that. I tried not writing poetry and I just kept doing it, so I think it’s more than that.”
Judging by the first meeting’s turnout, it appears that many of Sewanee’s students feel the same. The poems read at the first meeting were written in a variety of styles, but each student read with authenticity, expressing genuine interest in the discipline.
Though she is happy to serve as the club’s faculty advisor, Craighill said she plans to step back once it gets started, emphasizing that the poetry club will be a student-run organization. “I thought the turn-out of students and the quality and variety of voices was very encouraging. Like the Purple, this could be an excellent place for developing writers and for a positive student community.”