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UDayton Writes returns to celebrate the written word

By Carolyn Kroupa '22

Doodling, taking notes and scribbling shopping lists are all valid forms of writing. An annual University of Dayton campus event celebrates the importance of writing, no matter how routine.

The Department of English held its third UDayton Writes event Oct. 22 at Humanities Plaza in conjunction with the National Council of Teachers of English's National Day on Writing. The event draws attention to the remarkable variety of composing that writers from all walks of life create and makes them aware of their craft.

“There is value in appreciating how literacy plays a role in your life, even in the simplest ways,” said Margaret M. Strain, professor of English and UDayton Writes organizer.

More than 500 students, faculty and staff created and shared writing in multiple styles and formats. Activities included writing six-word stories, making buttons with the Write Place and creating a “zine,” which is a small-circulation magazine popular in fan culture.

Strain said the goal of the event is to “celebrate writing that ordinary people do every day. The English department cares about all kinds of writing and we want to let people know that the writing they do in their lives is important.”

The writing program committee, composed of English department faculty and Roesch Library representatives, planned the event to “bring student attention to the importance of writing and the many different ways they may write on campus and in life,” said Lauren Gilliland, English department lecturer.

Students from all majors participated in UDayton Writes, including students enrolled in the University’s Intensive English Program (IEP). Students from China in the IEP wrote six-word stories in Chinese and translated the English version underneath. 

UDayton Writes began in 2018 with nearly 200 attendees. The event has expanded over the years to include new writing activities and the University food truck, Rudy on the Run.

Bridget Graham, a senior political science and human rights double major from Overland Park, Kansas, is the literary editor-in-chief for the student-run art and literary magazine, Orpheus. She helped facilitate blackout poetry, which involves taking pages from books and magazines and “blacking out” certain words to make a new story. 

She encouraged participants to “find the words that call to you.”

Orpheus is a passion project for Graham. Students submit original creative writing, poetry and artwork to be featured in the magazine, which is published in the fall and spring.

She said producing Orpheus has given her skills in text analysis, deadline-setting and working with a larger team. 

“What I’ve learned the most from Orpheus is really being able to appreciate other people’s thoughts, feelings and beings through their writing,” Graham said. “It’s made me feel so much more connected to UD and my fellow students, and that kind of empathy is essential not just for a career but for life.”

Flyer News, the student-run newspaper, hosted a table for people to create their own headlines from archived editions. Flyer News assistant sports editor Taylor Robertson, a senior communication major from Dayton with a concentration in media production, helped run the table. She is an aspiring sports broadcaster, so her roles on Flyer News and as a multi-event athlete on the women’s track and field team help prepare her to achieve her career goals. 

Flyer News allows me to build credibility, learn about all sports, practice reporting sports games and network with classmates and other journalists in the area,” Robertson said. “I get to practice interviewing high-level athletes and work with APA style writing.”

Lecturer Gilliland said her favorite part of UDayton Writes was seeing big groups of students attend, especially since the event wasn’t held in 2020 because of the pandemic. 

“It was nice to see the campus come together again and see students enjoying themselves,” Gilliland said. “It was a nice moment of comradery.

“Sometimes we forget that writing can be playful, and there doesn’t have to be an end goal. There is value in playing with words and thinking about them like a puzzle.”

For more information, visit the Department of English website.

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