Arts & Culture / Mosaic / January 29, 2020

Writers create community in weekly workshops

Liam Wholihan, discusses creative writing with the working group. (Rob Nguyen/TKS)

A hidden gem of passionate students within the Knox writing community thrives purely on writers assisting one another.

Liam Wholihan, senior, remembers the beginning of the Monday night specialty when he and Josh Altoff ‘19, wanted to continue to write while away from classes.

During the winter term of Wholihan’s sophomore year, he and Altoff enrolled in Professor of English, Monica Berlin’s Poetry Workshop where they were told they must produce outside works of poetry with another person. The two then began to meet Monday nights in the former CFA Common Area where they would pass around their writing to be peer-reviewed by one another. Soon, Matt Cagle, junior, met with them about teaching him to write his own poetry and they invited him to their meeting on Monday night. From there, the club grew larger.

“I enjoy how fluid it is. The general rule of thumb is if you have something you want to workshop, put it up on the board. Then people will float through, leave comments, or they will come to find you and leave comments. Or if you have a beefier thing and your sitting around on your laptop, you just pass around the laptop and people give you feedback,” Wholihan said.

In comparison to the CTL’s writing workshops, this weekly event provides a low-stakes environment for students who just want to have another pair of eyes on their creative process. While it is not an official club, Wholihan feels that the space thrives without the formality of an executive board and has no reason to need a budget, making it purely a space for students to relax and create community. Anything from poems to Dungeons & Dragons campaigns can be brought to the table to be revised during this time.

“I think this is the coolest thing I’ve been a part of at Knox. This little gaggle of writers that get together. (Altoff) left, but one of the nice things about not having an exec or leaders is that someone leaves and it’s like, ‘Oh, I miss that dude, but we still have the group,’ it still runs just fine. I think that’s just a reflection of just how wonderful people are here,” Wholihan said.

Wholihan feels that with such prominent literary magazines on campus like Quiver and Catch, having a solid support group to revise pieces of writing is an incredibly helpful process in the writing community.

“The idea that you could have all the people who are submitting to Quiver and doing D&D and all this other art stuff on campus, just the idea of being in the same room with them (…) is exciting,” Wholihan said.

Although the group attendance fluctuates from week to week, Wholihan finds the environment stays consistent. When a poem goes up on the board, students take time to read and then discuss as a group the revisions they feel necessary, going over word by word and line by line.

“It’s nothing wild, it’s not this big fancy thing. It’s just people who make shit and like spending time together, and I love that. This is what I get excited about,” Wholihan said.

With Wholihan graduating this June, he hopes to see the group survive without him. Since it isn’t a formal club, there is a worry of a lack of participation, yet Wholihan believes it will continue to flourish in the coming years.

This group meets every Monday night from 9:15 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. in CFA Room 208.


Sadie Cheney, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Sadie Cheney is a Gender and Women Studies major with a double minor in Journalism and Dance Studies. They started as a volunteer writer for discourse and then staff writer their sophomore year and was a mosaic editor in their junior year. They also have interned at The Times Indicator in Fremont, Michigan, The Register-Mail in Galesburg, IL, and OUT FRONT Magazine in Denver, Colorado.

Tags:  Creative writing Poetry

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