In this post, Maha Al Fahim ’19 describes a new initiative that Princeton Writes is sponsoring – one that will showcase the remarkable work that student writers on our campus are producing outside the classroom. A Celebration of Student Writing, to be held from 7:00-8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 11, in the Hamilton Murray Theater in Murray-Dodge Hall, is open to all current and admitted students, who may obtain free tickets at the University Ticketing box office in Frist Campus Center or, in the case of current students, by logging in online at tickets.princeton.edu, beginning March 28. Any remaining tickets will be available from 6:15-7:00 p.m. on the evening of the celebration at the Hamilton Murray Theater box office.
The marching band fills the air with jolly music. Newly admitted students swarm the campus, their hands filled with Princeton booklets and brochures, their faces lit with excited smiles. The residential college banners soar skyward. In Dillon Gym, an activities fair holds sway, as student organizations share their passions with potential members, and in Alexander Hall, a performing arts showcase pulses with sound and movement. This is Princeton Preview.
But something has been missing until now, something in which our University can take great pride. This year a new event will be integrated into the Princeton Preview tradition – A Celebration of Student Writing.
For the first time ever, eight student organizations focused on the written and spoken word will come together on one stage for one night. They will turn their pens into microphones and read or perform their best work, selected by a panel of student judges.
This year’s participants are All-Nighter, Ellipses Slam Team, Figments, Innovation, The Nassau Literary Review, Nassau Weekly, Princeton Traveler, and The Stripes, representing everything from late-night comedy and speculative fiction to essays on identity and articles on science and technology. The adjudication process is currently underway. Each organization has been invited to nominate three of its best works from 2015, and the seven-member selection board now has the challenging task of choosing one to represent each group. The board is looking for submissions with a powerful impact, an original and creative idea, and a smooth delivery. “It’s difficult to articulate what makes a piece of writing extraordinary, what it is about a certain arrangement of words that can strike a reader so soundly, but together the board has welcomed this challenge,” says panel chair Emily Reardon ’16.
On April 11, from 7:00-8:30 p.m., in the Hamilton Murray Theater in Murray-Dodge Hall, the authors of the selected submissions will present their work on stage, having first been introduced by their nominators. Dean of the College Jill Dolan will offer her own reflections, and John Weeren, Director of Princeton Writes, the event’s sponsor, will present an award to each honoree. In a larger sense, however, the talents of student writers across the campus are being recognized, together with the organizations that provide them with a platform.
A Celebration of Student Writing allows Princeton to showcase the exceptional work created outside the classroom and beyond the scope of professor-student interactions, not only on stage but also in an anthology to be distributed that night. Above all, this will be a time to share – to enter into the writer’s mind and world, to discover what their words can unlock in us, and to experience the remarkable diversity of writing, both in terms of form and viewpoint, that our campus can produce.
“I hope,” says Weeren, “that by adding this dimension to Princeton Preview, prospective students will see that our campus has nurtured a vibrant community of writers and that they, too, can find support and inspiration here. Each year we plan to showcase the work of different groups, so, over time, the full range of student creativity will be highlighted, but the eight that will appear this spring constitute a wonderful beginning.”
Some of us only write for the sake of an assignment. Some of us, when drowning in emotions, write out our feelings. But whether we write for a deadline or as a lifeline, to get a mark or to make our mark, A Celebration of Student Writing encourages all of us to embrace the writer within us and to recognize the power of expression within our pens.