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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

College and high school combine forces for poetry reading

Poetry seminar students will be reading their work at Burling on Tuesday, Nov. 9 as part of the Burling reading series. But for the first time, the Grinnell College students will be joined by creative writing students from Grinnell High School.

The event is the result of months of collaboration—the two classes exchanged poetry pieces and met on Oct. 13 to discuss their works in a workshop setting. The idea for the project goes back even further—Bill Rudolph, creative writing teacher at Grinnell High, and Ralph Savarese, English, had been talking about bringing their classes together long before the pieces were exchanged and the workshop met.

Students in both classes thought the process was useful, but it took some getting used to. “It was intimidating,” said one Grinnell High student, to a chorus of agreement.

Savarese’s students also had to adjust, but they found the process to be less stressful and more illuminating.  “It was nice to leave the bubble of our class,” said Lilith Ben-Or ’11.

The Grinnell High students—who are in a general creative writing class—shared everything from a short story about zombies to a poem about a dying cat. One girl who works at Saint’s Rest wrote an essay portraying the cast of characters she serves—people Savarese’s students recognized. Another high school writer received the suggestion that she take out a part in her piece about Katy Perry.

After working out scheduling problems and getting past the anxiety of having one’s work put under a microscope, both classes found the process rewarding, so much so that many want to try it out again.

For Savarese’s students, working with younger writers helped them put their skills to use. “It gave us a chance to express what we’ve been taught,” Katie Queen ’11 said.

At Grinnell High, both Rudolph and his students expressed a wish to use Grinnell College students as a resource in the future. The workshop collaboration, they agreed, was a good start. Toward the end of the evening on Oct. 13, the workshop had to wind down, but by then the Rudolph’s students had warmed to the process. “We would’ve been there longer,” Rudolph said.

For the Grinnell High students, the reading on the 9th might only bring more pressure. “I was hoping it was optional,” said one writer.

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