Friday, November 27, 2009

Young Writers: Why our generation is so proficient at writing.

A new anthology for American teen writers was released this month, The Best Teen Writing of 2009. It was compiled from writers aged 12-18 who received the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in 2009.

It is great to see new venues come about, especially venues that allow young and emerging writers to get published. They have particular need for encouragement.

And how great is it that we have a nation of teenagers that are growing up writers? While some might point to social media, blogs, etc. as the downfall of teen grammar and an obstacle to honing writing skills, I think it's the opposite.

The generation that is growing up right now has more opportunity than any previous generation to practice writing, getting the writing out there, and getting immediate feedback. As a result, a greater portion of this generation is proficient in writing.

With the playing field being elevated all over in such a way, I think it will spark a lot of innovation and a higher standard for writing. I'm to see what my generation, and the ones just after it, do with writing and all the new media that is coming about. And I'm even more excited to be able to be a part of it all.

For more information, see CNN's article on it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

English Emphasis 4: Professional Writing

This emphasis will enable students to “Experience practical writing in the classroom and the ‘real world’” ( Students who wish to write in a professional setting, drafting business and other technically intensive documents, would benefit most from this emphasis. Writing classes will focus on business writing, editing and proofreading; there is also marketing, communication and other business classes as choices for this emphasis. It requires three semesters of a practicum, which will provide the opportunity for students to write in a professional style within a student-run business organization for real-world clients.

Professional writing emphasis majors will have the opportunity to read, edit, and create professional manuscripts (such as white papers, manuals, etc.). They are also required to complete an internship, which will provide the skills and know-how necessary to succeed in the business world.

Each of the emphases has a uniquely beneficial experience to offer students. Students are bound to grow and learn a lot, no matter what their emphasis. When it comes down to it, the choice is about knowing what you want to get our of your education—and then making those decisions that will get you where you want to go.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Zadie Smith's "Changing My Mind"

Famous British author Zadie Smith (White Teeth and On Beauty) released a book recently, Changing my mind, which is a collection of essays and reviews she has written over the years.

Smith cites in her essays the feeling of having her writing "grow up" in front of in audience; she was first published fairly young, in her late twenties, when her writing style was still developing, and that development has taken place with a lot of people watching.

I have often wondered, if I were to be published one day, what would I do with the things I am writing right now? Would they be good enough to be published? Would people even care to read them?

I purchased a complete collection of Sylvia Plath's poems over the summer, which includes a number of poems Plath wrote in college. I enjoyed them, but the maturation of her style and skill as she went on was apparent.

Being a student still, I know that most of what I'm writing right now is still "practice", and that it will not be perfect. Better ideas and a more mature style will come with time. It's comforting, in a way, to see that even Plath and Smith had to go through a similar process.

It really comes down to being willing to push through the blocks and the flaws to just keep writing.

A review of the book can be found here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lance Larsen reads at BYU-I

Lance Larsen held a reading on the BYU-Idaho campus on Wednesday, Nov. 11. Lance Larsen is a published poet and a professor of English as Brigham Young University.

The reading was held in Smith 240 at 7 p.m.

A meet and greet was held the following day, Thursday, Nov. 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Rigby Hall Lounge. He spoke about creative writing. Students were given the opportunity to interact with Larsen and ask him questions.

Larsen has had poems published in several literary magazines, including Paris Review and The New York Review of Books. His collection, "Erasable Walls," is available on for purchase.

For an interesting interview with Larsen done by Meridian magazine, go here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jonathan Safran Foer's "Eating Animals"

Jonathan Safran Foer is a popular post-modernist, famous for his popular novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The latter happens to be one of my favorite books, and focuses on the story of Oscar, a ten-year-old boy who lost his father in the Sept. 11th attacks on the World Trade towers.

Foer's newest book, Eating Animals, is causing quite a stir. It is something of a vegetarian manifesto, written in Foer's smart and entertaining prose. In it, Foer explores the ethics of eating meat, using the process through which he decided to become a vegetarian as a kind of sprongboard for this discussion.

Actress Natalie Portman wrote a response to Foer's book (which can be read here).

I think the overall concept is very intriguing. I love seeing famous authors, writers and even journalists taking the time to write something that is both true and good.

What's more, I think that Foer's discussion is one that is important for us to consider, as a society. I think it is less about eating meat or choosing not to, and more about being aware of how the small, everyday choices we make weave the ethical fabric of our lives. It is the choices made out of habit that we should be most aware and intentional in making.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Poetry Slam!

The English Department will be hosting a poetry slam this upcoming Wednesday, the 18th. It will be held in the Crossroads at 7 p.m.

It is a free event, and prizes will be given out to "slammers." Students who wish to participate can sign up at the information desk in the Manwaring Center. All, however, are invited to come and enjoy the show.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

English Emphasis 3: Creative Writing

The creative writing emphasis is made available to students who wish to study the creative process and products of writing, as well as learn how to get their works published. It will greatly benefit students who wish to pursue a career as a published creative writer or author.

Students will have the opportunity, through 200- to 400-level creative writing classes that focus on developing the craft of writing. Genres available for focus include poetry, screenwriting, fiction, creative nonfiction, and drama. Students will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, to revise and edit their own works, and to assist their peers in doing the same. They will be encouraged to submit works for publication in the university’s literary magazine, Outlet.

I chose a creative writing emphasis because it seemed to fit why I liked English,” said Skyler Meeks, a sophomore who chose creative writing as his emphasis. “I didn't like English because I liked structure, or because I liked reading. I liked English because I liked writing--and that's what you do with a creative writing emphasis.