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Local teens to attend SMC writing conference

| Friday, November 20, 2015

Teens from a number of high schools in the Michiana area will come to Saint Mary’s to let their creative energy flow during the third year of the “Get Inked” Teen Writing Conference on Saturday.

Kathy Higgs-Coulthard, the director of student teaching at Saint Mary’s, said the conference is a partnership between the College and the Michiana Writers’ Center.

“We started ‘Get Inked’ as a way to celebrate all the wonderful young authors in our local schools,” Higgs-Coulthard said. “Teachers are doing so many great things in their classrooms, and we are noticing a whole crop of students who are writing amazing poetry, fan fiction and even entire novels. We wanted to give them a space to come together with other young writers.”

Higgs-Coulthard said the conference’s main event is a keynote from speaker Jonathan Ryan, who is the author of the young adult series “3 Gates of the Dead.” Other workshops will be offered by author Laura Wolfe, who will help teens learn how to make their work stand out to agents and editors; English professor Aaron Moe, who will teach a workshop on poetry; and three Saint Mary’s senior education majors who will present on a variety of topics.

Senior education and English literature major Lauren Wells is one of the students giving a workshop on the black-out poetry movement, which takes pages from previously written works and uses them to form a poem by blacking out parts of the page and leaving only certain words.

“Poetry and writing don’t have to be super intimidating if you just look for inspiration in your everyday life and the world around you,” Wells said. “These students signed up because they already like writing naturally. We’re working with the cream of the crop as far as student writers. It’s cool to workshop their ideas and hear what today’s teens are interested in writing about.”

Higgs-Coulthard said the conference is a good opportunity for students to network.

“There is nothing as energizing as being in a room full of people who share your passion,” Higgs-Coulthard said. “The workshops will help them add to their writing tools and give them ideas on how and where to send their work if they hope to get published.”

Moe said his workshop, “There Is An Animal in That Poem,” will focus on the shape of a poem and how form and content go hand-in-hand.

“We’ll be taking a look at how there’s an animal, not just as in the content and so forth, but rather how the form of the particular poem ends up reenacting or imitating that animal’s way of being,” Moe said. “I want them to delve into the inner play between form and content and think of writing a poem not just on the level of content but the decision of the form and how the form can play with the content.”

Moe said he hopes young writers feel a surge of energy to want to write.

“I think [the conference] plants a seed in the high schoolers’ minds that they can see writing as something bigger than just the high school experience,” Moe said. “Hopefully by coming to a college and having the conference, it might motivate them in ways that are difficult in the classroom. Often times, the classroom is governed by the tyranny of the grade. … There’s many reasons why someone would write beyond a grade.”

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

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