English Department Hosts Inaugural Cardinal Reading Series

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On Friday, April 13, and Thursday, April 19, seniors from the English department partook in the inaugural Cardinal Reading Series.

The student readers were creative writing, literature and English majors. The event was the brainchild of creative writing senior Tiler Jewell and creative writing professor Arra Ross.

“Students in our program work hard and long to produce great material, and many have even been published,” Jewell said. “I really thought it would be a good idea for the students in the creative writing program to have a chance to showcase what they’ve been working on throughout their careers here.”

The pair got the idea when Ross mentioned it in a seminar class during the fall semester. The department already hosts the reading series Voices in the Valley, where authors come and read their works. Other programs in the arts put on display showcases for their students, so it was only fitting that the English department engaged as well.

“Writing exists not only on the page, not only in the space of creation, revision and final formation, not only in the space of eventual publication, but it also exists when a reader shares their work out-loud,” Ross said. “I see this again and again during the author readings for Voices in the Valley. … The writers come away realizing that the work they do alone as writers is important and can affect the state of the world through how it affects the listener and reader.”

The first reading of the series was on April 13 and featured three students: Alexa Foor, Brianna Rivet and Megan Wagner. The trio read variations of prose, poetry and creative nonfiction.

“To me, it’s important to take part because so few people outside of the creative writing field see SVSU as a place where you can attend creative writing events,” Foor said. “I think it’s important to show that creative writing students are still a part of this university, where there’s still a heavy push towards other programs.”

The second batch of students read on April 19. Amy Doyle, Anna Paling, Josh Atkins, Katie Manwell, Tiler Jewell and Zoey Cohen all read for the event.

Manwell read an absurdist piece titled “Diver.”

“Reading to an audience in this slightly less formal and more intimate setting was a fun experience,” Manwell said. “As someone studying writing, it’s very possible that I will have opportunities in the future to do readings, and the SVSU reading was a good introduction to the realm.”

Both Ross and Jewell plan on making the Cardinal Reading Series an annual, or even a weekly, event.

The inaugural event was planned during the final weeks of the semester, when students are busiest.

“Ideally, I think it would be better to have a Senior Reading once a month or so, that way the readings can be spread out rather than condensed into the last few weeks of the semester,” Jewell said. “Hopefully, more students and faculty would want to get on board with planning these readings, so this can continue. But I do think that there is genuine promise and excitement of this continuing in some form.”

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