Competitors find the ‘write’ stuff

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The Writing Center recently added new features to its walls to celebrate the artistic and poetic talent of SVSU students.

Two winning pieces from the “Writing on the Wall” poetry contest and one winning collection from “The Write Space” contest will hang on the wall for six months. A reception was held for the contest winners on Friday, April 8.

“The Writing Center is a space of student writing, but more than that, it’s a space of celebrating good student work,” said Writing Center Director Helen Raica-Klotz. “We’re really pleased to have both poetry and art in our center, because so many students visit our center and it makes the place seem more alive and more vibrant.”

Assistant Writing Center Director Chris Giroux spearheaded the contests.

“It comes from the fact that he’s a poet himself and he really values creative work,” Raica-Klotz said. “When he took this position as assistant director, he really wanted to bring more student art and student writing into the center itself.”

The “Writing on the Wall” submissions were first judged by two tutors, then by two alumni (Melissa Seitz and Janice Wolff judged this semester). There were over 50 submissions.

Secondary education sophomore Sam Geffert won the contest with a poem titled “Palm Reader.” Sam said the poem addresses what it’s like being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness.

Creative writing junior Kathryn Karoly also won the contest with her poem “passion like jumping but not knowing how to swim,” which she said is part of a larger project based on her great-grandparents.

“I hope that (readers are) able to see how much detail matters in everyday life, whether it’s intimate or seemingly ordinary,” Karoly said.

Raica-Klotz said the winning pieces are amazing.

“The poetry winners are both very gifted poets … their work is very different from one another but they’re both very remarkable,” she said.

Karoly and Geffert also won last semester’s “Writing on the Wall” contest, which asked for pieces in the style of a Japenese tanka.

“I think this contest is really important because, depending on the criteria, it challenges poets who might be really sturdy in their quality and in their talents as poets and as artists,” Karoly said.

“The Write Space” competition was judged by a panel of five art department judges, Raica-Klotz, and Giroux. There were seven submissions, with two from international students. Graphic design sophomore Khairiah Alfaraj, a Saudi Arabian student, won the competition.

Alfaraj wrote in her artist’s statement that she wanted her collection to “take the viewer through the experiences of Arabic females.”

“The expressions of my subjects show the courage and the strong will these women have,” Alfaraj wrote. “They do not fear the outer world; they will be something and achieve their dreams even if they keep on being rejected.”

“Khairia’s work is stunning … she’s trying to make visible women who are sometimes invisible, so that’s really powerful,” Raica-Klotz said.

Alfaraj used watercolors, acrylic paints, her computer, and collage to create her mixed medium art.

Several of the pieces include an Arabic line of poetry that Alfaraj said translates to “writings are immortal, though the author gets buried underground.” She said it shows the importance of writing.

Professor of Art Hideki Kihata was one of the judges for the competition.

“Many people applied for this, but (Alfaraj) certainly had the cohesiveness carrying her ideas through the pieces,” Kihata said. “She’s a sophomore, but she has very good skill, above sophomore level, I think.”

Alfaraj said this was the first time her art had been on display.

“Several women that I know right now have made something big of their lives, and I want to be one of them,” she said.

Raica-Klotz said she believes SVSU has talented students.

“I think we need to share (students’) work with fellow students and with faculty and staff,” she said. “I think it’s important to celebrate when students do amazing work.”