Literary House welcomes alumni writers, celebrates 50th anniversary

By Sophie Foster

News Co-Editor

            The Rose O’Neill Literary House, Washington College’s primary writing space and home to Cherry Tree and the Literary House Press, celebrated its 50th anniversary with an alumni reading designed to embrace the community of writers the house has welcomed during its time as a fixture on campus.

            The reading, titled “The Lit House Celebrates 50 Years of the Articulated Word: An Alumni Extravaganza Reading!” was held on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. Structured to invite community and conversation, attendees were encouraged by Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and Associate Professor of English Dr. James Allen Hall to share works produced in their time since being a student at the College.

            According to Dr. Hall in previous Elm coverage, events such as this affirm the core value of the Lit House: “to create community that is bigger than one person and can, to quote Whitman, ‘contain multitudes.’”

            Dr. Hall positions the Lit House as a place designed for fostering a close-knit, vibrant literary community for both the students of the College and the writing community at large.

According to Justin Nash ’21, “the Lit House is an absolutely vital space, and one that I think is truly unparalleled — at [WC’s] peer institutions and beyond.”

Attending the reading alongside former classmate Megan Walsh ’21, Nash said that he and Walsh “mutually pressured each other into reading. It’s always great to be back in touch with other alums who had a close connection to the Lit House.”

Nash, who received the 2021 Sophie Kerr Award and is now pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, sees the Lit House as a unique fixture at WC that gives students exposure to the literary world much earlier even than many schools with renowned writing programs and national arts scholarship.

“The Lit House has such a strong reputation in writing circles around the country for the impact it has had on students who passed through it, and it’s both lovely and important to bring some of those people back and show, on occasion, where the writing lives started in the Lit House have taken people,” Nash said.

For Literary House Intern junior Dante Chavez, this means appreciating and acknowledging both writers that are currently at the College as well as those that used to attend WC, in order to build out the school’s repertoire of writers.

Chavez, who works alongside fellow Literary House Intern senior A.J. Gerardi to promote Lit House events, considers the Lit House “a hub where writers can gather and consult with their community…an invaluable resource like no other.”

According to Gerardi, the Lit House hosts to numerous talented writers with much to say about their fields and offer to students. According to Gerardi, students should take advantage of the individuals that the Lit House highlights while they have the opportunity.  

“The Lit House is such a home for the community of writers on this campus that I’ve seen in my time here,” Gerardi said. “It’s so important to make that community feel welcome on the campus.”

The Lit House is open to students and visitors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and “welcomes anyone and everyone on campus,” according to Dr. Hall.

The next scheduled Literary House Series event is “Jay Z, Transculturation, and German Hip-Hop: A Talk by WC President Dr. Michael ‘Mike’ J. Sosulski” on Wednesday, March 1 at 6 p.m. More information about future Lit House events can be found on the house’s website. Alumni like Nash encourage students to take advantage of these events during their time at the College.

“Without exaggeration, I owe almost every bit of knowledge I have about writing, every community I’ve formed or found myself in, and the vast majority of things I’ve accomplished to the Lit House in some way,” Nash said. “It becomes difficult to articulate for how all-encompassing and marvelously enriching the Lit House was and continues to be. There is little language for what has no equal.”

Elm Archive Photo

Photo Caption: The Rose O’Neill Literary House will also be open for print shop workshops this semester.

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