First-Year students share original writing at annual event

edited.FYReading_JustinNashBy Katy Shenk

Student Life Editor

Washington College’s Rose O’Neill Literary House is famous for bringing world-renowned poets, novelists, and literary lights to campus. On Wednesday, Nov. 28, however, the Lit House stage was graced by 15 of WC’s own first-year students at the annual First-Year Reading.

While most students volunteered to share a selection of poems, Emma Campbell read a personal essay and Emily Abbott chose an excerpt from her novel, “The Twin and the Witch’s Apprentice.”

“It’s a high fantasy story about two twin brothers who lost their parents at a young age and went down radically different paths ever since. One of them, the hunter from the bit I read, has sort of become a government killer for their king and is slowly losing all his morality and empathy,” she said.

Abbott chose to read from the section of her novel that revealed the motivations of the main character.

“I couldn’t read the entire chapter because of the time limit, but it shows his struggle to suppress his empathy and morality and how that’s a fight he’s starting to lose. It’s also the most heavily edited part of the book,” she said.

Other student pieces, like Fentress Lynch’s poem “Call Me Wanderer,” were more grounded in lived experiences.

“My piece began as a prose poem but became a little more of an essay-ette, or so I was told in my class workshop,” Lynch said.

According to Lynch, “Call Me Wanderer” describes the adventures of her and her friend at his property in Lynchburg, VA.

“I wanted to write about something personal with my prose poem, since it was my first attempt at that style, so I chose a memory that I had the clearest memory of. Adventuring that day with my friend was one of the highlights of my summer and my friend means a lot to me,” she said.

Like Lynch, one of three poems shared by Teddy Friedline also reflected their summer encounters.

Friedline’s first poem, titled “Le Cafard,” French for “cockroach,” was written after living with their mother, whose older house was prone to the presence of cockroaches.

“It got to the point where every time I was in my bedroom, I was thinking about cockroaches and whether one would be in my bed or run across my toes or whatever. I wanted to write a poem that reflected the obsessive nature of those thoughts, and so I wrote this poem about cockroaches using the pantoum, which is a poetic form that involves repeating lines in four-line stanzas,” they said.

After reading a second poem, “Foxtrot,” Friedline closed with a one-line poem titled, “Looking At My Reflection While Wearing A Sweatshirt And A Pair Of Blue Jeans.”

“It’s one I like to finish with because then even if I’ve read something really heavy or serious, I’ve still left people with a little nugget to think about and laugh with,” they said.

At the end of the event, Dr. James Hall, associate professor of English and director of the Literary House, commended all readers for their ability to share their pieces with the public.

“It’s not easy to get up in front of other people and read the children of your brain,” he said.

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