In what has become an annual end-of semester tradition, Rensselaer students from several creative writing classes taught by Shira Dentz, lecturer in the creative writing program in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, read from their works on Dec. 10 and 11.
Dentz teaches three creative writing classes in poetry, creative nonfiction, and short story. More than 50 students took to the stage to share their works in the Darrin Communications Black Box space.
“Creative writing is an art, and its artistic medium is language, and one of its intrinsic elements is sound, music,” said Dentz. “I work with students for them to gain more of an ear for their writing—to tune their ears and listening skills—and the readings are a chance for them to continue in this vein. All writing is sound; even if one is reading to one’s self, one is hearing in one’s inner ear. Students also learn to pursue giving themselves and their readers an experience through their creative writing, and since all writing has music embedded in it, students are encouraged to give their own writing its voice, rendering it physically through their bodies!”
I work with students for them to gain more of an ear for their writing—to tune their ears and listening skills—and the readings are a chance for them to continue in this vein.”—Shira Dentz
“There are quite a few students who are interested in creative writing at RPI,” said Dentz. “In fact, there are many students at RPI who have artistic sides and artistic cravings—and these readings are a chance for RPI students to interact with these sides of each other, be influenced and inspired, and feel encouraged that they have a place with an RPI artistic community. They’re fun for many students, and the end-of-the-semester readings are celebratory of all the hard work they’ve done, since my courses are very demanding of students’ time and energy; plus, they’re being asked to think in nonlinear/associative ways that they haven’t exercised much before.”
Dentz started the end-of-semester readings in 2013 when she joined Rensselaer. She noted that she emphasizes community in all her creative writing workshops. “Students need to take risks, artistically, and need to feel they’re in a safe and accepting environment in which to do so,” Dentz added. “My classes involve a lot of students sharing writing done on the spot, in class. Students learn how to give feedback and to listen to each other. Being any kind of artist and getting critiqued involves vulnerability and courage, and a sense of community is essential to the continuance of any art. Furthermore, writing is a solitary activity, and community is where one’s finished work can be experienced.”