By Samantha Reid
Roosevelt University’s first Writing Day, sponsored by the English Composition Program, occurred last Friday. The event took up most of the day, starting with a faculty-led panel and ending with an open house in the Writing Center.
The day was also used to commemorate the launch of the Roosevelt University Writing Project, a journal to compile student writing.
The highlight of the day was keynote speaker Steve Davenport’s address on passion in writing. A variety of students and faculty packed the library to hear the associate director of creative writing from the University of Illinois speak and share some of his own poetry.
“Poetry doesn’t have to be scary,” Davenport told attendees, most of whom were English majors and freshman composition students.
Citing poetry from greats like Edgar Allen Poe and Gwendolyn Brooks, Davenport spoke about the importance of sound in writing.
Davenport, who got his Masters from Southern Illinois University, said writing was a process that he gradually honed over his lifetime.
“I developed sound over time through discipline and hard work, but I had nothing to talk about,” he said.
Eventually, he found his niche writing about everything from his turbulent love life and a friend’s struggle with cancer to the gasoline lake under his hometown. His works can all be found on his website, fittingly titled gasolinelake.com.
“I was writing emotionally violent poems,” Davenport told the audience, as he read samples of his work. “I didn’t write many poems my daughters could read. I didn’t write many poems I could read on NPR.”
Davenport told students how both his pedagogy and his passion developed over time, and what he believes to be most important in creating solid writing, both within the college environment and afterward.
“Passion without intelligence is, as far as I’m concerned, emotion for emotion’s sake, unless you make it important,” Davenport said.
The pieces he shared all reflected their own emotional importance, connecting his life to the reader. His parting words were words of confidence in the young writers in the university’s composition program.
“If you can’t find what you want to read, then you write it,” he said. “You’ll know your topic when it comes to you.”