Last Friday at 7 p.m, Knox’s Creative Writing department put on the first Milk Route of the year. Milk Route, borrowing its name from poet Carl Sandburg’s job as a young boy growing up in Galesburg, features senior creative writing majors reading selected works from their career at Knox. It is held at The Space, an aptly named collaborative space often utilized by the English department for readings.
The last Milk Route featured eight majors: Oscar Hallas, ShirJia Bielefeld, Serafine George, Ben Burwell, Nicole Baldino, Michael “Chops” Castillo, Rebecca Gonshak and Cristian Gorostieta each presented 10 minutes worth of their poems, creative nonfiction, fiction and plays. These readings were nothing if not well attended. The Space had standing room only five minutes before the show began. Still, that did not deter the other 20 or so people that poured in later, even during the first two readings. As one reader commented, it was the definition of a full house. And for a good reason, as each of the readers brought a finely crafted piece to the podium.
“It’s really cool. I think you could hear different voices in each [reader]; they all had their own personalities, which was really great to know,” post-baccalaureate fellow Ryan Polis said.
As the Creative Writing department offers classes at the workshop level in four genres — fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting/playwriting the pieces presented were at times drastically different, ranging for comedic plays to a nonfiction piece on the in-class death of a high school peer. What remained similar across genre was the finely-tuned skill with which each reader formed their work. And by no means was it unique to those two readers. Every work presented last Friday night was a mixture of emotion and deft handling. Being creative writing majors, they’ve been honing their skills for years now.
“[I’ve been writing] as long as I can remember” says Burwell, a fiction writer who read a piece of nonfiction last Friday night. “Definitely, I wouldn’t have written what I just read without [the creative writing program] because, on my own, I pretty much just write fiction, and I’ve taken all four of the genres offered at Knox [at the] workshop level.” He says that each separate genre has helped him in separate ways to better craft his work, whichever genre he might be writing in.
“For a long time, I’ve wanted to be a writer, whatever that means.” Gorostieta said. He, like Burwell, has also taken all of the genre classes offered at Knox. “[Creative nonfiction] was a really good medium for me because I got to experiment with poetry and dialogue and connect these genres that interest me into one form.”
There will be two more readings featuring different creative writing majors later in the year.