Writers share their works at Writing Center “Reading Nights”

The room is full of students nervously waiting for their turn in front of the crowd. They have papers in hand, full of text, expressing their most personal thoughts, stories from their imaginations or poetic musings about every topic under the sun. Their presentations will convey their talents and bring their written words to life; there won’t be any grades given out tonight.

Once every month, this scene unfolds in the Sam Houston State Writing Center as students, faculty, staff and community members gather to share their work as part of “Writing at the Center” Reading Nights.

The program, first implemented last spring, quickly attracted more than 30 participants per session and grew in popularity.

According to Dana Allen of the SHSU Writing Center, the Reading Nights were designed to provide an informal environment for writers to present their work. Not everyone is required to present, but often people who come to listen find themselves standing before the audience with their personal works clutched firmly in their hands.

“We loved the idea of having a place on campus where all types of writing could be celebrated and shared, not for the purpose of a grade, but simply because people love to communicate through the written word,” Allen said. “It’s really informal, and what’s nice is that some people grow more comfortable as they are sitting and listening and decide to go ahead and sign up to share. It’s best that people share their own work, so hopefully that person will feel comfortable enough to read their own writing.”

The types of writing cover a variety of topics and formats. Diary-type writings, poems, short stories, fiction, memoirs, and comedy pieces dot the landscape on Reading Nights with an equally diverse audience gathered to listen.

“The crowd [is] made up of students, professors, and members from the community, and the crowd was diverse in age, gender, and race,” Allen said. “It just goes to show that writing is a form of communication for anyone and everyone.”

The next Reading Night is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. in Farrington 111.

“This is an opportunity for voices to be heard, feelings to be shared, in a place that is supportive and non-threatening,” Allen said. “That’s the goal, to allow people the chance to be comfortable sharing themselves through their words.”

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