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Students share literary work at writers festival in Alabama

May 13, 2015 11:14 AM
Slash Pine festival attendees
Professor Jim Wilson (center) and six Flagler students attended the Slash Pine Writers Festival

For many writers, the act of writing is a deeply personal experience; and yet, its purpose — more often than not — is to be shared.

Six Flagler College students took the plunge and read some of their literary work recently during the Slash Pine Writers Festival in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, held April 24 to 25.

“Reading (at the festival) was an incredibly exhilarating and liberating experience,” rising senior Libby Svenson said. “Any form of public speaking is hard for me and I’m usually terrified beforehand.”

The History major read three poems: “Bodies,” “Sewanee” and “Jezebel and Company.”

“Once I got up there and began reading, I felt so calm…I knew I could do it, and that was such a great feeling. Since then, I’ve felt so much more confident about my poetry.”

Five other Flagler students, along with English Professor Jim Wilson, joined Svenson on the trip: Ari Corsetti, Laura Henning, Holly Horner, Michael MacDonald and Ashley Masone.

Michael MacDonald

The students were invited to the festival after meeting Slash Pine Press directors last fall at the Other Words Literary Conference, organized by the Florida Literary Arts Coalition and held in St. Augustine.

The Slash Pine Festival included readings, a “writers hike” and a variety show called “Slash Pop,” where creative writing was employed in improvisational ways. For example, two Flagler students, Corsetti and Masone, accepted the challenge to sing the lyrics of famous poems to recent pop hits, including Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.”

Masone, a recent graduate, read four poems during the festival: “Martha Carrier,” “The Streets of London,” “Small Talk” and “Family Reunion.”

“I believe Flagler should have a poetry festival like this,” she said. “We have such talented writers and we should show everyone what they can do.”

Horner, another recent grad who attended the festival, expressed gratitude to festival organizers and Wilson for the opportunity to share her work with a wider audience.

“I hope Flagler will maintain its relationship with the University of Alabama and continue to support its students’ literary and artistic endeavors through the festival,” she said.

This year’s Slash Pine festival featured Jordan Sanderson and Jeff Whitney, winners of the 2014 Slash Pine chapbook competition; Sabrina Orah Mark, winner of the Saturnalia Book Prize; Ira Sukrungruang, a New York Foundation for the Arts Nonfiction Fellow; Kwoya Fagin, a three-time Cave Canem Fellow; Associate Poetry Editor of storySouth Luke Johnson; and Tuscaloosa poet Kathryn Starbuck.

Topics: English, Students