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Students crawl through literature

Creative writing students, staff, and faculty crawled through downtown Pittsburg for a Halloween-themed literature crawl featuring readings by students and faculty both. The crawl began at 6 p.m. at the Pittsburg Public Library, after which the participants and attendants walked together to the next location.  

The lit crawl moved to T.J. Lelands, then Eclectic Soul Studio, and ended at Root Coffeehouse. Participants read spooky short fiction or poetry that was chosen from various submissions. Lori Martin, assistant English professor, organized the lit crawl with help from fellow staff and the Cow Creek Review. 

“When I was in grad school in Iowa… they had a lit crawl… and I’d never done one before and we just kind of all were friends and bundled together and just went from place to place to place, and it’s just so magic that we were out, we were moving around, we were walking and then you’d stop at this really cool location where you’d maybe never been before and you would hear someone read and you didn’t know what it was going to be, what it was going to be like. It was fun and exciting.” 

From this memory, Martin worked to bring a lit crawl to Pitt State to allow students to participate. 

“We always want to promote the arts in whatever way we can and then get the community involved and get the students involved and felt like that would be the perfect medium to do it since we invited community members but had it in the downtown business as well, so melding of all those things.” 

The crawl featured seven student readers and five professionals with about 22-23 attendants. All pieces of work read centered on a spooky or Halloween theme. 

“It think it’s super cool, it’s a good opportunity for English students who want to read their work but don’t have the place or opportunity to do so because now they have the chance to get out there and let other people know what they’re writing about,” Alexis Melson, junior in English, said. 

Melson, a creative writing minor, was one of the student readers for the night, reading a poem. She is also part of the Cow Creek Review and participated in various workshops held prior to the lit crawl. 

“I really enjoyed it, the readings are really good—I’m really here for that,” she said. “The workshop was a lot of fun, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it but I actually really enjoyed it. Overall, it’s been great so far.” 

In order to participate in the crawl’s readings, students first had to go through a submission process. 

“For the students, first of all they had to submit a piece and then we chose it because they were the best of the ones that were submitted,” Martin said. “So they went through a submission process like you would for an online journal and that was a learning process for them.” 

The lit crawl provided an opportunity for those involved, through both reading and listening, to grow in various ways. 

“ … Just crafting a story or a poem and going through the editing and the revising to make it work for something like this,” Martin said. “And we had pretty tight parameters for what they were to do, so they had to fit that as well. And then just the practice, a lot of them had never read before so that’s just exactly what we want for our students, just pushing them outside of their comfort zones. They were super excited to be involved and I feel like a lot of them really grew as a process and I was blown away by some of their ability to get up there and perform, you know, it was wild and just so impressive. And then just for the community, too, it’s just seeing the exposure to art in a literary form and also that art can be fun and it doesn’t have to be super serious.” 

Skyler Worley, senior in psychology, was another student reader at the crawl. Worley read a piece of fiction based on David Bowie’s song “Star Man.” 

“It’s a great opportunity to practice and get experience and reading, hearing other people’s work,” Worley said. “It and other activities like it are always good for undergraduate students to participate in to get experience in the real world, especially if you’re literature minor and majors. Because this is the real world of literature is readings, and this at least is a PG version of a reading where you have support and feedback. In the real world when you give a reading or you self publish or publish you don’t have any support, your own your own.” 

At the end of the night, Martin was content with the lit crawl’s turnout and the involvement it procured from the student body and community. 

“… I feel like we can do this next year and we’ll do it bigger yet, we have some ideas of how to make it even bigger,” Martin said.

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