Creative writing class launches anthology

Lake Effect 9 shows off literature by Queen’s students

Lake Effect 9 is the cumulative anthology of Carolyn Smart's Creative Writing class. 
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Editor’s note: two members of The Journal’s Editorial Board participated in this event.

“Thank you for being a hero,” Ellen He told Carolyn Smart when it came her turn to thank her creative writing professor.

On April 2, at the Renaissance Hall, Carolyn Smart’s Creative Writing class launched their anthology, Lake Effect 9. Fifteen students took turns reading their poetry and short stories, before thanking Smart for her support, instruction, criticism, and friendship throughout the winter term.

Smart accepted a bouquet of flowers—a gift from her students—and said their gratitude was overwhelming, but appreciated. She told audience members how talented this particular group of students were, and how they were truly an exceptional bunch.

In an interview with The Journal, Smart said that this year’s Lake Effect 9 class featured some of the best public speakers she’s seen in her time at Queen’s.

This was clear as each student took to the podium to read their work.

Some students chose to read poetry about their family, like Aubrey Cottreau, who read aloud his poem titled, “To write a Jewish poem.” Cottreau prefaced his reading by telling the audience he wrote the poem to “appease my grandfather.”

Other students read their short stories, ranging in topic like talking animals to puking girlfriends, and even one about a Vietnam War veteran teaching children anti-government chants. 

Each student’s work was vastly different from the next and polished to near perfection—proof of the value of the class’ workshops.

Smart told The Journal that the class was separated into three groups of five at the beginning of the week and are then asked to submit their work to these groups for edits and criticism.

“I want them to be supportive of one another but also usefully critical of the work,” Smart said. “Not just to say they really liked it but to say what possible weaknesses there are and how that could be helped. This is really key.”

Aside from workshopping, the class serves to prepare students for the world of publishing.

An aspect of the course Smart described as a “fascinating, but dark look into the realism of publishing today.”

There is hope though. Many of Smart’s past students have gone on to become published writers. She attributes some of that to the Lake Effect anthology.

Having work published in Lake Effect is a step forward in their pursuit of writing because it adds a published work to their resume.

“Originally my plan for Lake Effect was to be able to promote the very fine work of the students that I saw, beyond the university, because I send it quite widely out to publishers across the country and other writers I know,” Smart told The Journal.

The exposure is a great advantage, but it can also segue into other publishing opportunities. For some publications, a previous published writing credit is a requirement to even submit one’s work. Now, these 15 students have that.

“I think to have something published in a series that is gaining national attention is terrific for your CV,” Smart said, “but it also opens the door for people.”

 

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