At LaGuardia Community College, Visiting Fulbright Scholar Steven Gilbers discusses African-American English through the comparison of East Coast and West Coast hip-hop. In a classroom filled with students and professors, Mr. Gilbers proceeds to break down hip-hop culture and the importance of authenticity in the hip-hop community. “Another crucial part of hip-hop culture is this […]
From down the hall you could hear the nervous murmurs coming from room E242 where students and faculty gathered awaiting thebeginning of this year’s Creative Writing Read-a-thon. As I entered the room, I was greeted by an array of smiling faces: asking me to sign in and to feel free to take as many snacks as I wanted. With coffee, chips, and cookies made available it was hard to turn it down. For the past eight years LaGuardia’s Creative Writing Committee has put on an annual Read-a-thon; continuing this tradition into its ninth year are professors Alia Abdullah-Matta and Carrie Conners. This annual event gives faculty and students alike a five minute slot to read a piece or two of their writing to an audience of their peers.
With so many readings happening throughout the two hour event it’s not surprising that participants and audience members were brought to tears or at least moved by the stories they heard. A story that stands out from most of the readings was a short essay written by a (June) Shun Hing Lau Chan. Ms Chan grew up in China with a father who was not fond of the Japanese. When he was younger the Japanese occupied China, and this is something that the father could never forgive. However, when it came time for her to go to school Ms. Chan decided that she wanted to study in Japan! While her father was of course angry at first; when it was time for her to leave he let her know that he accepted his daughters choices, and that he was proud of her for pursuing her passion. Unfortunately Ms. Chan’s father died while she was in Japan. In the heat of her essay, Ms. Chan began to cry, and audience members followed her lead.
Moments like these truly make LaGuardians understand how significant an event like this is to the college-wide campus. Not only do the writers create a world, but to also transport others into this space is a true gift. Additionally, to have the heart to share such work is courageous and important experience. There is no better way for artists to grow than to meet other artists. This is what the Creative Writing Read- a-thon is about.
The stories shared weren’t all sad ones and not all of the performances were readings. The audience was lucky enough to hear a song written and performed by Bert Eisenstadt. He is the Director of LaGuardia’s Writing Center and has been both tutoring and working his magic with instruments all of his life. Mr. Eisenstadt accompanied by his guitar strutted to the front of the room where he sang a song “Is It True.”
Mr. Eisenstadt’s song asked questions about religion that we have surely all asked ourselves at some point. “Is it true that God won’t listen / If I call him the wrong name? /… Is it true that there are lots of Gods ?/ Is it true there’s only one?/ Is it true there isn’t any God at all?”
Mr. Eisenstadt is more than just a fantastic song writer, he is also a self-taught guitarist! This isn’t his only skill; Bert was taught to play the piano, the French horn, and the alto saxophone.
The turnout was fantastic! In a brief interview with Professor Connors she revealed that she was only expecting an audience of about 50. “I think we well exceeded that”
With an audience of almost one hundred attendees, this event was without a doubt designed to bring members of the creative writing community together, and it was a hit! Each of the thirty-one readers received a thundering round of applause as they evoked emotion from the entranced audience.
Along with having the opportunity to share their work with the world, each reader with funding from Campus Life and Student Affairs was able to take home new books.
If you didn’t have the chance to attend you do have the chance to take a creative writing class or two this Fall:
Fall CW Classes:
ENN 198 (Intro)
Chris Alexander 6:00-7:30pm;
Chris Schmidt W 10:30-2:00pm
Kristen Gallagher T 2:15-4:25/TH 3:25-4:25
ENG 271 (Poetry)
Allia Abdullah-Matta M 2:15-5:25
ENG 274 (Creative Nonfiction)
Richard Dragan T/TH 10:30-12:45; 11:45-12:45
ENG 276 (Fiction)
Sonia Rodriguez T/TH 6:00-7:30pm