Writing can be a lonely pastime. Often those scattered students who have an ink-stained bedroom corner don’t know about each other and don’t have an audience for their most imaginative words. But get a group of writers together and something different happens: collaboration, excitement, synergy. This connection of like minds can been seen at the meetings of the Harker Creative Writing Club, and it was alive in full force at the Celebration of Creative Writing that took place in the Blackford MPR in mid-May.
Standing at the microphone with a backdrop of paintings and sculptures from the recent student art exhibit, students Hannah Gorelik and Alice Tsui, both Gr. 8, read an excerpt of the novel the girls are writing in alternating chapters, a murder mystery set on a cruise ship. Also from the MS, Simon Orr, Gr. 8, with his made-for-radio voice, shared his quirky short story, “Under the Plum Tree.” This story, which was one of the two works selected to represent Harker in the California Young Writers competition, is a fable concerning a summer almost-romance between the narrator and a lovely young genius at CSI, aka “geek camp.” On an even more exotic note, Preston Yeung, Gr. 8, read a story he had completed in a mad rush at 11:37 the night before, where a space traveler is warned by tentacled, squid-like creatures about earth’s coming environmental collapse. Poets Oishi Banerjee, Gr. 7 and David Grossman, Gr. 8, rounded out the MS offerings. Banerjee read lyric poems about a garden and with a feminist theme. Grossman shared two poems recounting historic battles and a third one with a more subtle kind of conflict, where a mother has an unwanted glimpse of her son’s potential for cruelty.
Returning from the US to their old Blackford haunts were writers Bridget Nixon, Kaitlin Halloran, Nandita Krishna and Antonia Ipser, all Gr. 9 and Melanie Herscher, Gr. 11. Herscher, who is working on a screenplay, genially coerced some audience members into playing the parts in her royal romance. Nixon, displaying a facility for accents, read a dialog between two train travelers which becomes heated over the topic of women’s rights. Halloran and Krishna both read short, comic pieces. Halloran’s was full of fast-paced, witty digressions, and Krishna’s was more in her famously dry, deadpan mode, with the writer’s large, innocent-looking brown eyes suggesting no responsibility for her own sardonic words. Young dynamo Ipser founded the US’s Writing Club, which is advised by English teacher Erin Redfern, after graduating out of the similar club at the MS. Ipser, whose return to the MS provoked excited cries from several members of the audience, was unusually reticent in her turn at the mike. At the end of her too-brief offering, about a man who begins to have trouble distinguishing dreams from reality, an audience member yelled out, “More!”
The writers and several members of the audience agreed that more is needed, and not just from Ipser. All who participated hope to make these readings an annual or even semiannual event. As anyone who attended could tell, Harker has some startlingly accomplished young writers. The writing club, however, is for raw work and students do not need to have any special experience with writing to join. Club members share their latest creations at meetings to gain comments from each other, and also respond to writing prompts designed to take their thoughts in new directions. If a writer has a fresh story or poem and wants to hear what others think right away, he or she can post it on the club’s Athena page for responses. In the past, some members who could not attend the meeting times have participated solely through Athena.
The Creative Writing Club needs new voices. The club is, to quote author Anne Dillard, for the lucky ones “who wish to build castles with words… to create a place where imagination can wander.” Does that sound like you?