The stress of the pandemic has prompted many University students to try a variety of new methods of solitary relaxation. Some students have found solace through artistic tasks, such as painting, photography or drawing, while others de-stress with yoga, meditation, journaling and music.
Another way that students can relax is through creative writing. Writing poetry, non-fiction and short stories is a great way to stimulate one’s imagination. Research featured in Harvard Medical School’s “Harvard Health Publishing” suggests that there is a connection between creative writing and stress relief. In fact, writing about emotions — such as stress, trauma and other life experiences — indirectly or directly can help one cope with negative emotions. Another article in “Resources to Recover” details various studies that have shown how writing’s utilization of mindfulness increases emotional intelligence and reduces depression and anxiety.
A Writing Community
The University’s Creative Writing program comprises a group of intelligent and well-practiced faculty writers, as well as student writers who are dedicated to the craft. The University’s program offers a diverse selection of topics with professors of various teaching styles. Some unique courses taught at the University include Literary Journalism, Screenwriting, Fiction and Poetry Workshops, Writing Fantasy & Other Worlds and even a course in which students can work on an individual, and tangential, project.
Students from all disciplines are encouraged to try a class. However, if you simply do not have room in your schedule to try out a class, there are plenty of less committal opportunities for students on-campus to become expressive, and better overall writers and storytellers.
One Minute Open Mic
One such way for students to get involved outside of the formal Creative Writing program at the University is to attend and participate at One Minute Open Mic events. The event, which is hosted by both the Creative Writing program and the Stadler Center, features student and faculty readings of short, individually-selected works. These meetings are merely one activity the University’s Poetry and Prose Summer Community Program has initiated in order to strengthen the writing community here and facilitate fruitful discussion over the summer months and has continued throughout the semester. The most recent Literary Open Mic was held Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.
Stadler Center for Poetry Literary Readings
The Stadler Center is an organization dedicated to bringing writers of poetry and prose to the University’s audience. The Stadler Center hosts several events and programs, including their Writer Series, in which visiting and some residential authors share their selected works. These events in this series occur frequently throughout the semesters and are free for students and faculty members. Although the readings occur now over Zoom, the official event calendar is still posted on the Stadler Center’s website.
West Branch Literary Magazine
Since 1977, The West Branch Literary Magazine has been the University’s national journal of poetry, fiction, essays and reviews. The West Branch publication hires students interested in a career in publishing for a semester-long, unpaid internship in which they learn the nuances and demands of careers in the editorial and publishing industries. This position is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors from any major.
The Creative Writing Club
Lastly, as a fairly new initiative to the University’s writing community, the Creative Writing club is open to all interested students. Under the leadership of founder and President Nicole Yeager ’22, the Creative Writing club is moving forward with strong momentum this semester, only in an online format due to COVID-19.
The club began as a result of a group project in Assistant Professor of English Joe Scapellato’s “The Writing World” course, in which students are tasked to create a final project that addresses or improves upon some sense of the creative writing community at the University. In identifying the various aspects of the program that could use some improvement, Yeager and her other group members sought to create a “hub” for writing-related communities where students could share their common passion for creative writing.
The Creative Writing Club was approved by the Bucknell Student Government this past semester and, as a result, now has the budget and funds to hold meetings and other events. Past activities have included weekly free-writes and two open-mic nights with the University’s Stadler Center.
The club aims to include diverse perspectives, which originates from a diverse background of writers; as such, the organization encourages any students regardless of their major to join their writing endeavor. As a fairly new club on campus, the Creative Writing club is working on getting the word out about their community.
Although the pandemic has affected the Creative Writing Club’s previously in-person meetings that were filled with free writes, workshops and conversations, the club members are making the most of the situation, getting to know each other as much as possible through virtual interfaces. As a result, the organization has still been able to foster a strong community, despite also being a fairly new club. In fact, Yeager recognized that one of the benefits of holding club meetings over Zoom is the aspect of convenience and accessibility — or, rather, that students can meet right from the comfort of their living room or bed. Because creative, or any form of expressive writing, is sometimes about a personal or intimate event or situation, this comfortable setting may aid in creating safe discussions about one another’s writing.
Recently, the club has partnered with “confetti head,” the student-run literary magazine on campus, to begin collecting student work submissions. Those interested in joining the club can reach out to Yeager, and those interested in finding out more can follow their Instagram account.