On Thursday, just after the majority of students migrated off-campus, when Turner crowds died down and the Burruss bells were heard, a group of writers gathered in Shanks 370/380. It was a modest gathering, large by English departmental standards, and had one goal: create a sense of community between artists at Virginia Tech.
Artists, writers, and creators at Virginia Tech—a university dominated by hard science majors—often find themselves disconnected. If you, a poet, find a niche to inhabit with other like-minded artists, you are often disconnected from writers, photographers, and filmmakers. A sense is instilled that the creative community is limited to your friend group, that the community is stagnant and isolated. The English Club tried to dispel this myth with their first annual Social Hour.
Extending invitations to publications across campus, including The Pylon, Glossololia, and The Collegiate Times (for complete list of attendees, see the end of the post) editors had the chance to share their work and establish connections with potential contributors. It was a welcome surprise to discover there are dozens of opportunities to have work published and circulated around campus—not only is that another line on an aspiring artist’s resume but experience to learn and grow in craft.
Afterwards, the attendees of the event milled around, chatting with one another, asking questions, and making connections. Over mocktails (a very delicious fruit punch mixture mimicking sangria) and cheese and crackers, writers and artists talked and laughed. Anecdotes about classes were swapped, tips on writing exchanged. Before, the Social Hour was a formal presentation by each publication’s editor, followed by a brief question and answer section. Now, each editor was just another student, a friendly faced attached to the otherwise intimidating notion of submitting work—of exposing carefully crafted artistry to another’s judgment.
Walking out of Social Hour, stomach full of mock sangria and snacks, I wondered if this was the true hurtle we face as artists at Virginia Tech. We feel disconnected and lost in the milieu of computer science, business, and engineering majors, certainly, but also we must overcome every artists greatest hurtle: the fear of putting ourselves “out there.” Typically, the generalized, vague notion of out there is intimidating enough without seeing physical the glossy, professional pages of magazines such as The Interloper or Silhouette. Self doubt is the one talent all artists share but the English Club’s Social Hour helped to at least demystify all the opportunities out there at Virginia Tech.
Hopefully, it also began to bridge connections between all of the artists that call this university home.
List of attendees and their emails:
The Pylon: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Collegiate Times: email@example.com
The Interloper: firstname.lastname@example.org
WOOVE: Julia , email@example.com