Whitworth students host public reading

Words leapt from pages last Friday night as English students and faculty read poetry and prose at Boots Bakery & Lounge. The off-campus reading event hosted by Westminster Round is in its second year and attracted a large crowd that sat on chairs, benches, booths and the floor.

The reading began with senior Kyler Lacey and showcased close to twenty students and professors.

The off-campus reading is a way for Westminster Round to put on a more serious, formal event than Bad Love Poetry or Poetry & Pie, Westminster Round President Katie Cunningham said.

With English department faculty members Nicole Sheets, Fred Johnson and Thom Caraway reading, students were encouraged to put their best work forward.

“It’s kind of a nice, more adult type of reading, but it’s also not super serious,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham, whose responsibilities include sifting through emails, running Westminster Round meetings on Thursday mornings and attending both ASWU and English department meetings, thinks the club is good at connecting the department, students and Whitworth community.

Reading pieces aloud can be nerve-wracking to many students, but the off-campus reading provided a safe environment to get over this fear and become comfortable with performing what they have written.

Sheets admitted that she still gets nervous before she reads, even though she performs her work regularly and reads aloud when she revises pieces. To her, the nervousness is not purely a bad thing.

“It’s constructive to see when people laugh, and how the pauses sound in a piece,” Sheets said.

Sheets, who usually reads excerpts from longer essays, was also inspired by the variety of work performed at the reading. It’s a misconception that you can only read poetry at a reading, Sheets said.

Students performed a wide variety of original work at the reading. One creative performer was senior Josh Tuttle, who presented a how-to guide-esque description of how to go about entering a graveyard in the middle of the night.

The off-campus reading was freshman Lauren Klepinger’s first chance to read her work in a formal setting.

Most of the time, Klepinger prefers to write prose, but at the reading she performed two poems. Her prose narratives require more planning, and poetry is less planned, Klepinger said.

“I’m somewhat inspired because there are people here who are better than me, but I...can learn from them,” Klepinger said, about reading with other students and successful professors such as Sheets, Johnson and Caraway.

“I feel like I know them well even though there’s this whole ‘I would be afraid of them if I had read their bio before I had a class with them’ type of thing,” Cunningham said.

Through events like the various readings put on throughout the year, Westminster Round hopes to foster a community of fun in the English department and across campus. It also aims to show people that English teaches valuable practical skills, such as analysis, oral and written communication and persistence.

“[Westminster Round] makes the English department not merely just an academic department but kind of a social department—a department where you make a lot of friends and you feel really comfortable,” Cunningham said.

If you are interested in being involved in Westminster Round or learning more about their events, you can attend their meetings Thursdays at 8 a.m. at Le Petit Chat.

Courtney Murphy

Staff Writer

Poets share best of bad love poetry

Kari Johnson | Photographer       On Friday the 13th, the eve of Valentine’s Day, the English department club Westminster Round hosted Bad Love Poetry, an event created to irreverently celebrate the holiday and the best of the worst love poetry that can be culled from the Internet as well as past diaries of Whitworth students.

Junior Molly Rupp is treasurer of Westminster Round. The event was fun because of the collective cynicism—Bad Love Poetry is a non-traditional way to celebrate using a familiar form, Rupp said.

Junior Nick Avery, vice president of Westminster Round, served as the host. He opened the event with a reading of Kristen Stewart’s “My Heart is a Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole,” and encouraged audience members to get up and read poems of their choosing. The club also provided poems for volunteers to read.

The lightness of the event was reflected in the enthusiasm of both audience members and participants, many of who laughed their way through recitations.

The event was run open-mic style, allowing any willing participant to take the stage and read. Of the 40 or so attendees, around 10 students volunteered to entertain the crowd with poems mostly found on Google and read off of smartphones.

Senior Hannah Cruze  shared “The Socially Awkward Love Poem” found online, while senior Kyler Lacey took to the stage between poems to encourage audience participation and tell jokes. He also read from his own original work about two things he loves very much—cars and girls.

Other poems read included “The Worst Love Poem That Fails to Use the Word Lame” by Aimee Salter, “The Worst Love Poem Using the Word Lame” by Andrea Heinecke, “A Twilight Saga Poem, For Twihards Only” and “Nora, the Maid of Killarney” by William Topaz McGonagall.

Kari Johnson | Photographer

Junior Dana Stull also shared original work. Stull and junior Audrey Strohm read excerpts from Stull’s journal, written while Stull was at Lutheran confirmation camp during eighth grade. Stull’s work included both poetry and prose excerpts, including this untitled piece:

Steven Potter is wearing a cute sweatshirt without a shirt underneath. Hallelujah!

An annual event, Bad Love Poetry is an opportunity for students to meet, laugh, and share in some great bad poetry.


Kelli Hennessey

Staff Writer

Poetry and Pie sweetens a Friday night

If there is one thing that makes people come together universally, it is pie. But pie is only one of the attention grabbers for Poetry & Pie, an event hosted by Westminster Round, the English Club.

The event allows for students, alumni and faculty to come together and share poetry that they have created with an audience, while enjoying free pie. The event took place in the Mind and Hearth and drew a crowd that filled in the area and milled around  the coffee shop.

“One thing that is important about Poetry and Pie is that it allows us to bring our love of literature to the greater community. It is not just English majors, but everyone can come and share and listen to the poetry,” junior and Westminster Round president Luke Eldredge said.

“The feeling of the crowd laughing when I wanted them to when I read my first piece was exhilarating and it certainly helped boost my confidence as a writer and performer of the written word,” senior reader Kyler Lacey said.

Many of the poetry performers were students, but there were a few exceptions. Cathy Bobb, the wife of English professor Vic Bobb, also shared poetry, as did a few Whitworth alumni. English professor and Spokane poet laureate Thom Caraway also shared some of his work.

The content of the poetry varied for each person, which allowed for myriad different topics and emotions to be present at the event. One poem was a tongue-in-cheek representation of selling typewriters, while another was about parents fighting downstairs while siblings hold each other in their bedroom. The mixed bag of topics is one of the important parts of Poetry and Pie, Eldredge said.

“It was great to be a part of an event where I was able to share something I had written with the community as a whole,” Lacey said.

“There is such a diversity of experiences reflected in the people’s poems, and so when different majors come they can share their own experiences through poetry,” Eldredge said.


Jacob Millay

Staff Writer

Book lovers throwback to youth

Whitworth students of both English and non-English majors were reminded of their childhood at the first English department event of the year, PJ’s and Picture Books. On Friday, Sept. 26 students were invited to hang out in the second-floor lounge of Westminster Hall and enjoy classic childhood stories while in their PJ’s. The event was hosted by the English Department’s student-run club, Westminster Round. Laid out blankets and sweet smells of cookies and tea created a welcoming, warm atmosphere. Students were genuinely interested in the children’s stories being read and discussed them with fun, yet analytical perspectives. However, most of the attention was focused on the children running around, telling their own stories. When all the children’s books had been read and the children left, the room was filled with a variety of conversations about dinosaurs, Daniel Tosh and struggles in the Russian literature class.

“I thought it was awesome to meet new people. It was like a little community, but open and relaxing,” freshman Thais Pedro said. Though she is a biology and chemistry double major on the pre-med track, Pedro said she loves writing and would consider being an English major.

English department events are known to have a familial atmosphere and provide English majors as well as enthusiasts, with opportunities to bond over their love for writing and reading.

“Freshmen can meet older English majors and get to know professors more at Westminster events,” junior Katie Cunningham said.

“Students set aside the stress of homework for a given time period to attend an event and everyone there knows that each of us has made that decision,” senior Joanna Szabo said. Events will sometimes be held at a professor or student’s house, and faculty members will bring their families to create a general closeness among members of the department. Though Westminster Round is a student-run club, faculty members are really involved and will sometimes be the motivation for students to attend.

“I like being able to identify characters and motives. I like interaction through story and the art in that,” freshman Chad Shayotovich said. Shayotovich attended two other colleges before transferring to Whitworth and enjoys Whitworth and the English program here. The tight-knit community of the English department is representative of the Mind and Heart philosophy Whitworth advocates.

“Usually non-English majors will come to the Bad Love Poetry and Poetry and Pie events,” Cunningham said. Cunningham is one of the presidents of Westminster Round. They keep their scheduled events open to English majors, minors and enthusiasts, Cunningham said.

At Bad Love Poetry, located in the Mind and Hearth Coffee House and scheduled around Valentine’s Day, slam poets will usually attend to share their poems. Since Poetry and Pie is usually in the HUB, students will stop in and close to a hundred people will attend. Another fun event hosted by Westminster Round is Literary Live Action Clue, in which clues are hidden throughout Westminster Hall and students will go on a scavenger hunt to look for them.

The next upcoming event will be the Harvest Festival, in which students and faculty will gather to reconnect. For more information, look at the events calendar posted in Westminster Hall.

Rachelle Robley

Staff Writer