By Megan Loock
Elm Staff Writer
On March 11, sophomores and juniors participated in the virtual Sophomore/Junior Reading, sharing their original writing.
The Sophomore/Junior Reading originated in the ’90s, but the tradition faded. It wasn’t until 2019, that senior President of the Writer’s Union MacKenzie Brady and senior Vice President Justin Nash revived the tradition. This year marks the third installment of the annual event.
“We wanted to make sure the sophomores and the juniors still had their space to read and all that because it’s a good space to have,” Brady said.
Five students—sophomores Avery Castellini and Michelle Henry, and juniors Isabelle Anderson, Emma Campbell, and Julia Clifton—read original work in front of the WC community.
This is Clifton’s second time participating in the Sophomore/Junior Reading, where she read the poems “The Fruits of High School Love” and “To Forget.”
Clifton was inspired to write “To Forget” when she forgot her close friend’s birthday.
“I felt so bad about it that I was like ‘this is the worst thing in the entire world, I hate not remembering things all the time’ and it sent me into in a grumpy spiral so then I was like ‘I am going write a poem about it’ then I did,” Clifton said.
“With an event like the Sophomore/Junior Reading, which always goes so well, my only hope is for it to keep getting bigger,” Nash said.
Nash has participated in numerous readings since his Freshman Reading in 2017.
“Since then, I’ve probably participated in a reading somewhere between fifteen and twenty times, be it my own Sophomore/Junior readings, Erotic Literature Readings, various heritage/history month readings, or for prospective students at open houses,” Nash said. “As for the number of readings I’ve attended—between conferences, festivals, and standalone events—it’s likely well over one hundred.”
In addition to being the Writers’ Union Vice President, Nash is also the Editor in Chief of the Collegian, the College’s student literary and arts magazine.
“Collegian’s mission is to provide our contributors with a journal in which to present their work, educate our staff on publishing processes, inspire and entertain our audience, and, above all, foster a love of writing and art among Washington College students,” according to their website.
Three of the five students who performed at the reading have had their work published in at least one issue of the Collegian.
Campbell performed her short story “We Are the Music Makers,” while Anderson performed her poem “her name wasn’t actually jolene” — both pieces can be found in Collegian’s 32.0 issue.
Clifton’s work was published in the 31.4 issue.
Despite the normally in-person reading being online and, attendance being a little lower than usual, the reading itself was successful, according to Nash.
“It’s my feeling that online events simply don’t have the same draw that in-person events do. I wouldn’t say it was hard to get people to participate, as I do think we had a good showing but it’s hard to create the same appeal which such a large aspect of the event in the past has been social—getting people together, in community, all sharing great writing with their friends and peers. That social aspect is lost a bit, but we were still able to highlight fantastic creative talent,” Nash said.
After each student finished, a wave of support and praise followed.
“I feel like it is easier to give immediate praise over Zoom,” Clifton said.
“The atmosphere is great, the audience is great, the readings are great—the only thing left is for more and more people to take part in that greatness,” Nash said.
If you are interested in joining Writers’ Union, email Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read Campbell’s, Anderson’s, Clifton’s, and many more students’ work at https://collegian.washcoll.edu/; however, only the three most recent issues are up for view.
Featured Photo caption: Junior Isabelle Anderson reading her poem “her name wasn’t actually jolene”. Photo by Sammy Jarrett.