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.