Thursday, October 23, 2014

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New ‘Homemade’ Book Showcases Graduating U.Va. Students’ Creative Writing

University of Virginia fourth-year students can hold the fruits of their creativity in their hands, thanks to a collaborative project among the University’s Creative Writing Program, the U.Va. Bookstore and Printing and Copying Services.

The inaugural edition of “4” comprises poetry and prose written by 29 graduating fourth-year students who have taken upper-level creative writing courses in the College of Arts & SciencesEnglish department

“This is an impressive, aesthetically diverse gathering of student talent from an array of departments and schools of the University,” Christopher Tilghman, director of the Creative Writing Program, said. “The students contributing to ‘4’ are thrilled to be able to depart from the University with a handsome embodiment of their workshop experiences.”

The journal – the first of what will be an annual publication – was edited and produced by Jordan Bolden, Jimmy Bullis and Brigette Torrise, undergraduate students in a literary editing course taught by Jeb Livingood, assistant director of the Creative Writing Program. Printing and Copying Services published the volume, with the University Bookstore bearing the expenses.

“We hear every day about how the publishing industry is dying, and yet with ‘4,’ we see three undergraduates who, in just a few months, collected manuscripts, designed a book-length publication and then published 300 copies using high-quality digital printing,” Livingood said. “The reality is that publishing isn’t dying, but today’s technology is radically changing how we publish, and who can do it.”

The project to publish the book was the collaborative brainchild of the U.Va. Bookstore’s director, Jonathan Kates, and general manager, Wayne Terwilliger, working with Sydney Blair and Lisa Russ Spaar, faculty advisers in the Creative Writing Program, and Livingood. 

The keepsake was unveiled and presented to the students, their friends and family, and writing faculty at two valedictory readings last week, one featuring fourth-year poets and the other featuring fourth-year writers of prose and creative non-fiction. The bookstore hosted both readings and held receptions each night.

Spaar said the fourth-year poetry reading at the bookstore was marvelous. “We all loved the space and the food, and the reading was superb – intrepid, varied, full of youthful vitality and lots of soul. ‘4’ is also a huge hit – full of beautiful, impressive work.”

The mezzanine where the readings are held wore a new look, with panels that displayed the works of U.Va. student-artists standing in front of the bookshelves. The Art Student Society helped select and set up the panels, drawn from collected paintings and photography from fellow students, and created the art display, Kates said. The bookstore will expand the program next academic year. 

“Our goal is not simply to support the U.Va. academic mission, but to enrich the University experiences of our students,” he said.

“For the creative writing community, the bookstore is much more than a place to purchase textbooks and personal items,” Tilghman said. It has an extensive trade book section, and is especially devoted to stocking and displaying books published by University faculty and alumni. The staff helps with readings of visiting writers, too, stocking their books at the time of the reading for signing, whether held on the bookstore mezzanine or any other venue on Grounds, he said.

Extra copies of “4” are available for free at the bookstore while the supply lasts.

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