Throughout the year, the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities hosts renowned poets and authors for their Third Thursday Poetry Series. On April 21, they opened the stage to Auburn University’s creative writing students for their last event of the semester.
Seven undergraduate students involved in the creative writing program’s capstone course took to the stage to present works of poetry, personal essays and fiction excerpts. Along with these students, three graduate students also presented their work.
“I absolutely loved having the opportunity,” said Sarah De Loach, a student in Justin Gardiner’s capstone course. “I really hope to do this in the future when I’m writing more!”
According to Gardiner, the capstone course allows creative writing majors to work across genres. He said that all students in that class must go through two genre sequences to take part in it.
“They revise work that they had written earlier in their time at Auburn,” Gardiner said. “They put together a portfolio and then we have this reading that kind of caps it off.”
Gardiner said that it was exciting to see students’ work progress over the semester. Seeing work go from an idea to a work that is able to be presented to a live audience made everyone involved humbled.
“We spend all semester coming out to Third Thursdays and listening to these really accomplished, published authors, and giving us the spotlight is really considerate,” said graduate student Sidney Slater. “It’s a thoughtful thing that the program does, and I really appreciate it.”
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Though it is usually only the professor and fellow students who get to see the work that is put in during the semester, by opening the stage to students at Pebble Hill, the community can get involved with students' writing.
“Getting to see the work get revised and revised again, then getting to share it with other graduate students and faculty members and then the community and their friends or parents is a wonderful end to the season of events that we have,” Gardiner said.
Most of the work that is presented at the event has been toiled over for long periods of time. The students who participated in this event spend months, or even years, writing and revising their work. De Loach said that she had been working on her piece for about a year, while Slater had been working thoroughly on her piece for an entire semester, despite having the idea for her piece for much longer.
“It can sometimes bog you down to get negative feedback on a piece that you’ve worked so hard on, and going revision after revision, you think ‘Oh my gosh, this is never going to end up where I want it to be,’” De Loach said. “But once it is, you can present it to everyone, and it’s really great and you feel great about your work.”
The Third Thursday Poetry Series was started in 2013, and it will begin its next season in the fall. Gardiner had some hopes for what this event could do in the future, as well as some insight as to what is already in motion for the future.
“This was the first time that we’ve had the student reading be a part of the Third Thursday Poetry Series, so we’re really excited for doing more like that going forward,” Gardiner said.
He said that in August, they will highlight Auburn faculty and other members of the community, as well as published writers. Gardiner also said that they are partnering with the Auburn Oil Co. Book Sellers to handle their book sales, which he hopes will draw more attention to the store’s work.
Though Gardiner was excited about these events, he said that his main hope was to draw more students to the event.
“We just hope that this series gets bigger,” Gardiner said. “And I hope that we get a lot of students, in particular, that come out and see what we have to offer.”
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