In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and emphasizing the importance of being prepared for a professional world, LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC) welcomed Angie Cruz on October 31st in the E-building’s Poolside Café. Ms. Cruz, who previously visited the campus in 2017, is an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, writer of short stories and […]
What is passion? Passion is having a strong and barely controllable emotion towards something you love. Here at LaGuardia Community College students are constantly being encouraged to share their passion, through their art, their writing and their hard work. The 6th Annual Creative Writing Read-a-Thon showcases passion. For this event, students, professors, and faculty members are encouraged to share a short reading of their original creative work. The work ranges from poems, and short stories to plays, stand-up comedies, and music. The first read-a-thon was conceived of and organized by Professor Kristen Gallagher with the help of Professor Laura Tanenbaum in 2008. This event has occurred every year since its origin. In recent years, the event has been organized and hosted by Professors Gallagher, Christopher Schmidt, and Noam Scheindlin, among others.
The event creates an environment where people are free to express themselves without being judged. Professor Schmidt said, “the Creative Writing Committee believes that the Read-a-Thon is a great opportunity for LaGuardia’s many talented student writers to share their work beyond the walls of the classroom.” The read-a- thon gives the students an opportunity to show a side of themselves that many would not see. It also provides an opportunity for students to see their professors share their own writing which can spark inspiration in students. Professor Schmidt
shares that “writing isn’t finished until it’s shared with an audience, and the Read-a-Thon is an exciting way for students to “complete” their writing by sharing it with others.” This event has inspired many students to take creative writing classes and to participate in future Read-a-Thons.
Kevin Barbosa, a tutor at the Writing Center who shared one of his poems at the event said, “the poem titled “Same Old Tricks” is something I wrote for a creative writing class I was taking a while back at City College. As I noted in my short preface at the reading, it was largely inspired by the form of a piece by Leslie Scalapino called “Bum Series” from her collection “Way”, Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool”, and my primary writing style which mostly consists of hip-hop lyricism.” This was Barbosa’s third time performing at the Read-a-Thon since Professor Gallagher encouraged him to join the event in 2010. “I am hugely grateful to her, as well as the school and the terrific colleagues and peers who not only offer a platform and audience for the work I share, but who also share beautiful work themselves to continue to inspire one another.”
Natalia Rodriguez, another student who also shared one of her original works said, “I wrote it during the winter break. It came from an artist statement I had written for the Poetry Workshop with Professor Alexander.” This was her second time participating in the Read-a-Thon. “I think that the event is very important because it provides a sense of togetherness for writers who want to share their work. And even the ones who don’t want to necessarily share but just hang out and hear stuff, because I don’t know whether it is intended or not, but the event creates a real chill atmosphere that anyone would be bound to feel comfortable in after a few minutes. The Read-a-Thon creates a community within the school for both professors and students who come from different departments and who seek creativity beyond the four walls of a classroom.” Many students also come to simply support their friends like Charlyne Woody, who was there to support Rodriguez. She says of the event, “People should get involved. It’s a community building type of deal.”
Speaking in front of people can be a scary thing to do, so this event helps people get use to public speaking, in a creative and fun way. Deirdre Flood, a student at LaGuardia, who shared a remarkably funny story says, “I do think it’s an important event. It’s always cool to see what creative writing people are working on, and reading your work in front of people is often viewed as an act of bravery, because it’s totally nerve-racking. So it’s some- times good to learn how to read and have people hearyou.”
If you enjoy writing, reading, or performing you should definitely participate in next year’s Read-a- Thon. It would be a great way to get your work out there and also a fun way to meet other people who share your passion. It’s a fun event to attend because you get to see more than just people reading their works out loud; you also get to see people act out originals plays, perform original songs, and even stand-up comedy. Professor Gallagher said, “I hope that people find inspiration from something they hear at the Read-a-Thon. Maybe a line a performer reads sticks with an audience member and helps them view some aspect of their life differently. I want the readers to find a supportive venue for their work and the courage to share their work in other venues. Additionally, I want all who attend to have an entertaining experience that encourages them to become even more involved at LaGuardia and take advantage of all of the events and activities it has to offer.”