Amy Oleynik reviews Capstone Showcase

EMU student Amy Oleynik reviews the recent undergraduate Creative Writing Capstone showcase:

To the Beginning Creative Writer: The Capstone from a Reader’s Perspective

Capstone Reading, April 12th 2012

It’s been four vigorous years and it all comes down to one night. The graduating seniors of the Creative Writing program all come together to recite for you portions of their Capstone Project. This project is one they have been personally working on for the majority of their last semester, a project that is meant to reflect what they’ve acquired, gained and learned throughout their time in the program. I was one of these readers and I’d like to share with you my thoughts on the experience.

There were ten seniors lined up to present their works. With only five minutes for each performance, choosing your material to present was a nerve-wracking task. This was my first real reading. Of course I had presented pieces in class before, but I never was truly nervous of my audience’s reactions. Usually when given a time, it seems so long and you have to stretch your words to fill the space before you can wipe your brow and scuttle off stage. But in this moment, five minutes were barely a breath. What could I read that would sufficiently show my dedication and message? Luckily for me, I had written both short poetry and prose pieces. I was able to present a bit of each, though practicing beforehand made me even shakier.

As I sat in my room reciting to my houseplants, I realized each reading was completely different. I never emphasized the same words, I tried a different tone of voice or speed.  I’m not one for stage fright, but this performance meant more to me than others prior. This was the showcase of my hard spent time and ideas. I wanted to make it count.

My nerves were erased as I entered the Student Art Gallery. The space itself reflected what EMU is about, what we were a part of. Inventive, daring and ever varied. Our showcase was dynamic and multi-faceted. It revealed everything the Creative Writing program promoted and taught us, but it showed how we as individuals give life to the program.

Kylie read an excerpt from her mysterious and fantastical fiction piece. Jonah performed a series of poems that broke the fourth wall and reached out into the audience, asking you to inflect about where you call home. Elizabeth combined film making, appropriated music and narrative in a short film piece. Joseph performed a list poem interwoven with dialogue. David Chad used incredible word play and rhyme scheme to bring us a hilarious commentary on community and communication. Noah delivered a scene about Phoenix, asking us to take a journey through memory to find a final destination. Ian brought us a multi-genre approach in his video about the difficulties of the writing process, featuring many of the other Creative Writing students. Brenna led us through a complex fictional interview with the accompaniment of Elizabeth. And I shared with you moments of my grappling with today’s ideas of feminism.

From this performance alone showed what our program is all about. Collaboration, diverse genres, different backgrounds, attitudes and voices. We each brought something unique to share and invite you to step up to the podium when you are ready. There is a spot here for you.