Student Org Hosts Fourth Annual Oxford Writing Festival

Oxford Writing Festival
by Eric Rubeo, English Department Intern

Left & Write. That was the theme of the fourth annual Oxford Writing Festival, a three-day literary celebration organized by the Students for the Promotion of Writing. From April 15-17, members of the Miami literary community celebrated the “write” side of their brains, that which creates and appreciates the art of the written word across disciplines.

The festival kicked off with the first of two student readings at the Armstrong Student Center, with both undergraduate and graduate students of the Miami University community sharing their creative work. A second reading with a completely new line-up took place the following evening.

Jessie Motts, junior creative writing and French double major, read at the opening event. "Going into the reading, I was a bit nervous because I’m not accustomed to reading in a larger setting. Luckily, no one ran away screaming when I was done, so I think it went well. It’s a great low-pressure environment for a reading and has really helped me feel better about hearing my work come out of my own mouth," she said.

Oxford Writing Festival

In addition to celebrating the writing of the MU students, the festival brought in guest lecturers to speak on topics designed to help budding writers.

One talk was given by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon, co-authors of Doon and Destined for Doon; the first two of four books in a contemporary Young Adult series. The pair spoke about what it is like co-authoring books and what the advantages and disadvantages are of putting two minds together even in the earliest stages of writing. "You have to learn to trust your partner" Langdon said. "She will make changes that I never expected, but you roll with it and when it clicks, it clicks."

Another guest speaker, Lisa DeBenedictis, gave a Q&A at the Shriver Bookstore about her own path from Ohio to Hollywood, what it is like working in episodic television as well as insight into her creative process. She called Hollywood a “tough place to be” but said it was an immensely rewarding experience for her, and said the writer’s brain was needed not just in the writing itself, but production.

"It was really cool to see what it takes to make it as a writer in Hollywood," Marissa Lane, second year creative writing and English literature major said. "It just made the whole thing seem so much more real."

Immediately following DeBenedictis, Jamie Ramsey, media blogger for the Cincinnati Reds, spoke with students about the differences between his writing for "Better off Red," the official blog of the Reds, and the official  game notes he writes after every game the Reds play. His talk invited discussion into the nature of different styles of writing for different audiences in the way that his blog writing allows for much more subjective, playful commentary (which is always in support of the home team!) while official game notes must be as “bare-boned” as possible.

Finally, the festival ended with Miami University professor of anthropology Mark Peterson, giving a talk about writing nonfiction with a focus on ethnographies, his specialty. He showcased different resources he uses in his class to help teach students how to write.

"This year’s writing festival was an absolute success," Samantha Edmonds, senior creative writing and literature major and member of Students for the Promotion of Writing said. "There was a lot of interest in the student readings and a wonderful turnout for the events. It was a delight to see."