Graduating seniors in the Creative Writing Program read their work aloud to an audience of about 70 at the Cat in the Cream on Monday, May 6, their final chance to present their work as undergraduates.
The event was organized by Madi Mettenburg, Creative Writing major representative and graduating senior. Mettenburg credits the large crowd with the fact that she booked the event at the Cat, a popular venue on campus, as well as advertising the event in advance with enticing memes. She said the organizers of last year’s reading couldn’t book a venue in time, so the reading took place at a professor’s house and had a much smaller attendance.
“It was great that [this year, the event] was an hour, and people were in and out,” Mettenburg said. “No one was exhausted. Some readings can be exhausting, emotionally tiring. But I would have loved to have more readers. There’s not really a community for the Creative Writing major, but there could be, and I’d love if that developed in the future.”
Mettenburg added that the event is not officiated by the Creative Writing Program itself and that if she hadn’t organized the event, it may not have happened.
“I would love if this were an official event that happened every year,” she said. “It would show that we have some sort of presence, we’re not just scattered writers. We can all come together for one night and read to each other.”
Oberlin graduates between 20 and 30 Creative Writing majors each year. Students majoring in Creative Writing are required to complete an individually-designed capstone project as part of the curriculum. Under the guidance of faculty, each student completes a lengthy body of work, as much as 200 pages of writing. Some of the readers on May 6 read from their capstones, but many chose to read from their other works, too.
Graduating Creative Writing major Jacob Fidoten echoed Mettenburg’s desires for more communal opportunities.
“This was a lovely event and I wish there had been more like it during my tenure at Oberlin,” they said, mentioning that their first opportunity to read their work on campus was during their junior year at a reception celebrating students who had won prizes in the English and Creative Writing departments. “It’s important for students of writing to showcase their work this way.”
Fidoten also expressed the desire for more opportunities for Creative Writing students to share their work with each other and the broader group of students, faculty, staff, and community.
“Moving forward, the [Creative Writing Program] ought to prioritize giving students such opportunities instead of leaving it up to them to organize” they said.
Among the students and faculty in the audience was College senior Nicki Kattoura. Kattoura is a graduating Politics and English major, but nonetheless made a point to attend this reading because he wanted to support other students and the energy they put into their work.
“Our peers are working on projects all year long, whether it’s an honors thesis, or a capstone reading, or a project we’ve worked on independently,” Kattoura said. “A lot of this work is written [with] the intention of being listened to.”
This week’s event was a wonderful chance to listen to that work, and bid farewell to the program’s graduates.