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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Writing out loud


Black Box writers Residency program participants get tips from Lowell White, English Lecturer.

After weeks of preparation and practice, eight A&M students will take the stage Saturday evening to share their creative writing in front of a live audience. 

These students are participating in the Black Box Writers Residency Program, which is now in its second year of operation. The program aims to help creative writers become stage-ready through six weeks of writing and speaking workshops. During the final stage of the program, the writers share their work in a live performance titled “Black Box Speaks.” 

Florence Davies, head coordinator of the Black Box Writer’s Residency Program and administrator and writing consultant at the University Writing Center, said Black Box Speaks is the culmination of a program piloted last spring.

“Creative writers, by nature, tend to be introverted people,” Davies said. “We don’t get a lot of practice at giving readings, so we definitely wanted to create a program that kind of shaped both areas.”

The program consists of weekend classes over the course the spring semester that target areas such as revision and the generation of new work, said Davies. The last workshop of the program is the performance workshop.

“[The program] targets all the five areas a writer needs to consider before giving a reading or a reading performance,” Davies said. “And we do a dress rehearsal, and then we give the readings.”

In addition to the eight students in the residency program, there are two coordinators, Catherine Bartlett and Ryan Neighbors, both of whom are Ph.D. students in the Department of English. Davies said there are two visiting faculty that help  teach the residency, along with Lowell White, a lecturer in the Department of English. All three will be featured in the reading on Saturday.

Sydney Santos, ocean engineering sophomore and Black Box resident, said the program has influenced her writing in different ways.

“It’s definitely helped a lot, especially with revision and thinking of different ways to approach writing a story,” Santos said. “And then we’ve learned a lot about ways to get published, even if it’s just in a magazine or in like a newsletter or something like that — how to get your work out there.” 

Davies said the program has expanded based on feedback from last year’s participants.

“Last year’s participants — again, it was our pilot program — they were pretty happy with the product, with themselves at the end of the program,” Davies said. “But based on what we noticed as coordinators and based on what they told us, we wanted to give them a very well-rounded residency experience.”

Applications for the program are open to all students, regardless of whether they are an English major or not, said Davies.

“In fact, what I really enjoy about the program is that we get a lot of students from varying majors,” Davies said. “I think it’s just really great that students from both the sciences and liberal arts and humanities are really interested in developing creative writing and are kind of looking for an outlet as well.’”

Bartlett said the program serves as a unique opportunity to find camaraderie and methods of improving writing. Bartlett also the program makes creative writing an essential part of the resident’s lives.

“It’s always a pleasure to work with other writers, and it’s always a learning experience,” Bartlett said. “It’s really helpful because in every single class I’ve taught or been a part of or observed, I’ve always found some way to improve my own work and to learn about the work of others.”

Bartlett said she is excited for the participants to be able to showcase their work and efforts at Saturday’s “Black Box Speaks”.

“For me, that evening is for [the participants], and we are all sort of orbiting them as the stars that they are in that evening,” Bartlett said.

The program has done a lot to prepare the readers for the final workshop, said Santos.  

“We’ve done a lot of practice and things like that,” Santos said. “And [the program] taught us different techniques on how to deal with it, like speaking in public and things like that. They’ve given us a lot of exercises to help us.”

 “Black Box Speaks” will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Brazos Room at LaSalle Hotel.

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