Bringing out the writer in you

Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

This past weekend, high school students from schools such as Cairo, Streator and Indian Creek visited Millikin’s campus for the eleventh annual literary festival. Hosted by the English department, this is an event where young writers can learn how to advance and craft their style of writing in addition to hearing writers read their works.

Kicking off on Friday in Pilling Chapel, the festival opened by fiction writer Eric Lundgren reading from his first novel, “The Facades.” Featured writers are invited to attend the festival every year to read select pieces from their works. This year’s other featured writer was poet Patrick Moran who read from his book of poetry, “Rumors of Organized Crime.”

“I’m very excited to be here,” Lundgren said. “It was great to be invited.”

Past featured writers include author John Dalton and poet Rusty Morrison. In honor of last year’s festival being the tenth, Millikin alums were asked to come back for an alumni reading.

Featured writers also host workshops and craft lectures on Saturday pertaining to their type of writing. This is the chance for students to ask questions on how to be a better writer and what kind of mechanisms could help their writing techniques. This is the eighth year Diana Zwinka, English teacher at Indiana Creek High School in Shabbona, Ill., has brought her students to the festival.

“In the beginning, it was a really cool event,” she said. “The workshops and the caliber of authors that we meet and the depth of learning about the process and craft is just mind blowing. That’s what keeps us coming back.”

English Chairman Dr. Stephen Frech has been working non-stop to make this festival a success. He says the overall purpose of this event is to “simply cultivate the literary culture on campus” and his favorite part is seeing the enthusiasm from both Millikin and visiting high school students when they hear works being read.

“My sense is they come to an event like this starved for the company of other people who are about books and it’s really gratifying to see them as excited as they are,” he said.

Closing out the festival, Frech, along with Millikin faculty such as Dr. Carmella Braniger and Dr. Randy Brooks, read pieces from their original published works. This was also the chance for guests, visiting and Millikin affiliated, to read any piece they wanted to share. Students who had their work published in Millikin’s literary magazine, “Collage,” read on Friday.

“This was my first literary festival and I really enjoyed it,” said Cairo High School senior Anon Stewart. “I wish I could come again.”