The Lit House online opens up

By Lenora Brown

Elm Staff Writer

Many students were disappointed with Washington College’s shift to online learning in the wake of the coronavirus. Not only was this a huge blow to students who had been eagerly anticipated arrival back on campus, but for frequent visitors of the school’s signature Rose O’Neill Literature House, it was particularly devastating. 

Sophomore Amara Soro expressed her disappointment with being unable to go back. “I didn’t spend as much time there (Lit House) last year as I would’ve liked and I was hoping to get more involved in the events there this semester,” said Soro.

For many, the Lit House isn’t so much about the events, but the atmosphere cultivated by Dr. James Hall and Prof. Roy Kesey. When first visiting, it was impressed upon me the lengths the staff go through to make the Lit House inviting for students, whether they are studying, meeting, or just hanging out. While the impressive collection of classical literature is what gets many bibliophiles in the door, The Living Writers series, co-sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Foundation, is what gets many wandering students to pop in.

“The series runs concurrently with a class of the same name, offered in the English Department, which brings a number of writers to campus and to meet with students in the Living Writers class. Living Writers rotates genres between fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction every time it is offered” said Dr. James Hall who will be teaching the course this semester.

The series has hosted such popular novelists Neil Gaiman and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown and will not be slowing down in our post-outbreak world. On Sept. 8, Oct. 8, and Nov.17 the Lit House will be bringing the selected readings by the authors and their student tailored workshops to the entire student body via Zoom. 

Guggenheim Scholar, Sarah Manguso is the author of multiple publications including a nonfiction essay compilation and several poetry collections. Up next is Lambda Literary Award Finalist, Melissa Febos. Febos is an acclaimed author of several nonfiction pieces that have been anthologized in such distinguished publications as The New York Times and Vogue. The series concludes with poet, essayist, and music critic Hanif Abdurraqib; he has released two acclaimed poetry collections as well as the book “Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest” which has since become a New York Times Bestseller. All of these Zoom sessions are open to anyone but require prior registration which can be found on the Lit House’s website. 

Although the lack of online sessions and being in the same room as these literary professionals is disappointing beyond belief, I would urge everyone to look on the bright side. Perhaps students who would have never physically gone to the Lit House with their free time will feel more inclined to give The Living Writers series a chance from the comfort of their own homes. The Zoom format also allows for easy recording of the series for future uploading, making this year the most accessible yet.

Even if you don’t attend the virtual conference, I encourage anyone with a passing interest in nonfiction or poetry to give the series a chance. You can find more information on https://www.washcoll.edu/learn-by-doing/lit-house/index.php

Featured Photo courtesy of the Washington College website

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