By Lexi Foldenaur
Have you ever felt inclined to share a piece of your art or writing with the rest of your peers? Whatcom Community College has made this possible for students, and has done so since 1995 with “A Gathering of Voices,” a literary compilation of student works, comprised of personal student essays.
On the publication’s Web site, submissions range from an acrylic painting piece to a student memoir about the transition to life in America. Last year about 50 submissions came through the “A Gathering of Voices” mailbox, and about 13 of the submissions were published.
“It’s really, really amazing how good some of the writing is on campus,” said Wayne Robertson, an English teacher and editor of the anthology. Without “A Gathering of Voices,” it is easy for outstanding student work to go unnoticed, he said. Submissions for the publication are based upon student-written essays that are in most cases nominated by a faculty member. Students are more than welcome to submit their own writing too, however. There is a diverse range of topics in the publication, from science-based essays to opinion pieces. “A Gathering of Voices” emphasizes work done in classrooms around campus, said Robertson.
Guidelines for submission are stated on the program’s Web site as being “outstanding works” submitted by students. Submission content can be anything from a work of creative non-fiction pieces to an outstanding lab report. Students should feel comfortable submitting essays from all different subjects, Robertson said.
Similar to the “A Gathering of Voices,” the “Noisy Water Review” is another student-based publication that gives creative outlet to student work. The name, “Noisy Water,” comes from the meaning of Whatcom in the Coastal Salish language, which is translated “Where the waters are noisy with the sounds of falls and frogs.”
The Literature Club oversees the composition of “Noisy Water Review,” led by its editor, Lori Martindale. The club currently receives one to two submissions each week, says Martindale. For those students who might have something to submit, but are hesitant about doing so, the club said that anonymity is completely welcome in the publication.
“We are trying to make them as comfortable as possible,” said club president Ashley Adams. The club looks for poetry that is carefully crafted, and that has been revised and edited. One of the main things the club looks for when reviewing submissions is that the poem seeks to communicate to the reader, said club member Jordan Meyers.
The creator of the “Noisy Water Review,” Jeffrey Klausman, originally produced the review to connect to his creative writing students. Klausman explained that when the first issue was put out in 1999, they had limited resources to work with because there were no finances for it. The 1999-2000 issue is simple looking, and constructed with paper, ink, and staples. Inside, however, the book is filled with raw and meaningful poetry.
“We’re not trying to be cutting-edge by any means,” said Klausman. The publication is meant to be a broad representation of concise work, he explained. In the first publication, not even half of the submissions made it in to the actual book, and entries are usually selected based on preference by the editors.
“Whatever bruised feelings you may have are smaller than taking that step out of your own little world,” said Klausman, advising students to give it a shot, despite whatever mixed feelings they may initially have about submitting personal works.
If submitting work is maybe not your thing, the literature club said they are always looking for new members to come sit in on a meeting. Martindale likened the atmosphere to being “like a coffee-house club,” where all different ideas and cultural infusions are welcome. Recently, the works of Chinese poet Wang Wei were analyzed. When trying to think of a theme for the next meeting, club member Michael Dalavaccio suggested, “How about bitterness?” he said, adding in a reference to Valentine’s Day, “Because that is the antithesis of love.”
The Literature Club will be accepting applications for winter quarter until March 5. Coming up in June, the club said that the best applicant will receive a $25 gift card to local bookstore Village Books. Submissions can be sent to Lori Martindale at firstname.lastname@example.org.