By Arielle Lipset || Campus Life Editor
Each year, F&M’s Emerging Writers Festival brings to campus emerging standout writers who have recently been recognized in the world of literary craft. This year’s festival was the 14th festival in F&M’s history. Five writers spanning genres of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry gave readings and craft talks day and night. The writers included Ansel Elkins, Kristin Dombek, Arna Bontempts Hemenway, Crisa Hutchinson, and Samuel Starkweather.
The events brought together students and faculty to hear on the techniques and measures taken to amount to pure and dignified writings.The Philadelphia Alumni Writers house hosted many of the festival’s events. The house provides a space where students, themselves emerging writers, often gather to write, connect, and form lasting relationships and inspiration.
An exciting and widely unknown aspect of the festival is the EWF shadow program. The program provides the opportunity for students who are involved with Writers House committee to shadow the visiting writers of the festival. Writers are assigned two shadows before the festival. Students are able to select their writers beforehand based on preference for genre and content.
Livia Meneghin, a current senior and creative writing major on the committee, says that her involvement with the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House, and specifically with the committee community, has provided her with the ability to “[call] the Writers House a home.” Meneghin became involved with EWF in spring of 2014 of her junior year. She says, “I’d been to readings, yes, and they were amazing. But EWF has really shown me what a genuine, loving, multifaceted family is.”
Meneghin shadowed poet Ansel Elkins during this year’s festival. A poet herself, Meneghin “connected with her poetry [and] was eager to meet someone from whom [she] could learn about craft.” Ansel Elkins is a successful and notable poet whose recent book, Blue Yodel, was the winner of the 2014 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition.
According to Meneghin, “Ansel is just a phenomenal person. Her inquisitiveness and enthusiasm [were] refreshing at a time when it seems like all my peers are stressed and focused.” Nearing graduation, Meneghin expressed her satisfaction and fulfillment gained from the EWF shadowing opportunity. Speaking with Ansel and engaging in her craft talk on poetry and technique, Meneghin learned “a lot about how sometimes when you embody someone else, you [can discover] yourself.”
During her craft talk, Elkins asked students to adapt the persona of a “monster” or fictitious outsider from literature or common culture. Students were to write a poem from this perspective; to put one’s self in the place of another. Meneghin found this exercise directly conductive to her capstone project for the creative writing major.
Though EWF involvement and occurrence is, of course, delightful and encouraging for those within the English major, Meneghin confirms: “From day-time events like the craft talks, to evening readings, there’s something for everyone. And I don’t think you have to be a writer or an English major to appreciate EWF.”
She encourages students of all majors and passions to get involved—having such notable writers on campus is an opportunity that should not be overlooked. After all, F&M, as a school, stresses the function of community. Meneghin confirms this communal energy and upholds its integrity, in saying; “I’ve never felt a greater sense of love, community, family and realness in my four years at F&M. We all worked so hard, laughed so much, and learned a great deal. And we did it together.”