Cynthia Rapp, Seward County Community College/Area Technical School dean of academic affairs, takes a look at the most recent issue of the college’s art and writing journal, “Telolith.” Courtesy photo
Creative writers often view poetry and story-writing as intensely private work, something to be completed at home and hidden away from the unkind world.
That’s not how it works at the weekly Creative Writing Class taught by Bill McGlothing at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School. The 6:30 p.m. class meets Monday evenings in the Shank Humanities Building on campus to read, write and discuss.
The first session of the class met Aug. 18, but students may still enroll in the class with McGlothing’s permission.
“Every fall, I look forward to seeing the class develop into a community of writers and readers who enjoy writing, want to write, and want to share their work with others who care about writing,” McGlothing said.
Though students might begin the class a bit unsure about the experience of sharing their work with others, a sense of camaraderie always develops. He’s seen it over and again during more than two decades with the course.
“For years, I wrote poetry and never showed another soul because I was afraid of what people might say about it. About me,” said former student Melissa Garvin Benson. “Creative Writing taught me that criticism doesn’t have to be destructive … it can be constructive. I learned how to accept those suggestions without letting my pride and self-consciousness get the best of me.”
The payoff? Benson said she was able to sharpen her skills and improve her writing.
The class also offers a multidisciplinary option that draws on the art department.
McGlothing and SCCC/ATS art instructor Susan Copas serve as co-editors for the college’s national award-winning arts journal “Telolith.” The magazine presents writing, graphic design and art by students. For several years, McGlothing and Copas have also challenged students to collaborate on a graphic design/poem project. Students may keep the frame-worthy result, or display it in the Shank building.
With so many well-established practices, both instructors decided to vary the routine this semester by moving classes to Monday rather than Wednesday.
“Energy is up,” McGlothing said. The class “began to look like something different, perhaps offering access to a wider and different pool of students.”
McGlothing first taught Creative Writing 26 years ago, in Texas. Once he began, he never stopped. Former students like Benson keep in touch because, as she pointed out, “just one Creative Writing class can have a profound impact on your life.”
Area resident Julee Davis agrees. After taking the class last fall, she’s back for a second round.
“I have taken Creative Writing before, in other schools, but I never had the experience I had when I took this class last fall,” she said. “This class goes far beyond the boring stuff you’ve already known forever and a day, and challenges you to find all your strengths, all your weaknesses, and improve your craft in ways you can’t begin to imagine.”
Davis offered proof: She began the class “struggling mightily” with a first poetry assignment, then went on to win first place in the open class in the SCCC/ATS Poetry Coffee House competition in the spring.
“I don’t believe that would have happened without what I learned in this class,” Davis said. “If I could take it year-round, I would.”
Creative Writing meets from 6:30-9:30 Monday nights in the Shank Humanities Building on SCCC/ATS campus. To enroll in the class, contact McGlothing at 620-417-1457.
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