The Creative Voice
by Ann Mayhew '13
Writing 50 essay. Core paper. Literary analysis. Thesis. A Scripps College student faces ongoing academic demands, often answered by a piece of required writing.
How does a Scripps student develop her own creative voice?
While some class work can indeed be highly creative, some Scripps students find they can best foster their writing talent through extra-curricular student publications. These publications let students pursue special interests, share opinions, and showcase their talent. The result is often energetic writing that helps inform and entertain the community.
Take Becca Marion ’12 and Laura Passarelli ’12, who were looking for a way to counter negative body-image messages they perceived in the Scripps College community. When they couldn’t find a way, they created one.
“Since magazines often promote one-dimensional interactions of people, such as surfaces and appearances,” Becca says, “we wanted to use the medium to work in another direction.”
In 2008, the two formed [in]Visible magazine around a shared vision of encouraging Scripps students like themselves to discuss body image openly. They did it with no prior print or publishing experience.
Now in its fifth semester, [in]Visible has grown to include the works of writers, editors, designers, and artists. The student staff publishes once a semester and features a variety of features on topics ranging from eating disorders to weightlifting to autism. The magazine continues to gain a strong student fan base as a result.
Victoria Davis ’14, editor-in-chief for the 2011-2012 school year, has been excited about [in]Visible from the moment she stepped foot on campus. “[in]Visible gives students an avenue to channel their passions in a way that transcends the pages and touches its readers,” she says. “It reports on Scripps-specific issues, enlightens people about global issues, and gives students a voice to challenge societal standards.”
Similarly, the student-run newspaper voice seeks to open dialog on campus. Voice publishes bi-monthly and is one of two student newspapers within The Claremont Consortium.
“I think voice is good for Scripps,” says Vritti Goel ’12, last year’s co-editor-in-chief, with Tori Mirsadjadi ’12. “Whether it’s a news story, a review, or a rant, voice contributes to Scripps’ personality and sense of community.”
Tori agrees: “I love getting reactions to the latest issue, even if they’re negative, because I feel like getting any response means people have been inspired to think. Controversy is healthy.” Voice has gotten backlash from controversial articles on subjects ranging from the Motley’s wobbly tables to topless tanning to criticism of the Core program.
Voice encourages outside participation; indeed, many of its articles are penned by guest writers. “My favorite part of working for voice is seeing other students get involved,” Vritti says. “If it wasn’t for voice, I wouldn’t know these other students, faculty, and staff quite as well. I am much more informed as a result.”
[in]Visible and voice not only allow for a richer community at Scripps, but also give students a way of expressing themselves. And as more and more generations of Scripps students add their own voices to the dialog, we can look forward to more thought-provoking publications in the future.
Another student publication, Scripps College Journal, with its intriguing subtitle, “A Journal of Interdisciplinary Imaginative Writing,” is edited by students under the guidance of Professor Kimberly Drake, director of the Writing Program.
The annual Journal began in 1999 and consisted of academic essays from Scripps students, including the winners of the Sands Essay Award, given to the two best Writing 50 essays. According to Drake, the purpose was “undoubtedly to showcase excellent student writing [in volume one, essays came from writing, Core, and classics courses], but also to let everyone read the essays that won the Sands Essay Award each year, which is important for any such award.” In the early years, the coordinator of the Writing Program was the sole editor and staff member.
After Scripps College created a tenure-track faculty director of the Writing Program, first filled by Frank Cioffi (at Scripps from 2004-2007), the Journal evolved. It now includes creative pieces and the imaginative subtitle. It has continued to be edited entirely by a group of students: Lindsay Adams ’10 was editor-in-chief for two years, 2009 and 2010. Then, in 2011, Alexandra Talleur ’12 became editor-in-chief, with Natalie Cannon ’12 assistant editor; content editors were Anne Dreshfield ’13, Lauren (LM) Ellzey ’13, Lindsay Gutierrez ’13, and Mary Callahan ’13. Talleur will continue at the helm for the 2012 issue.
The stylish publication now boasts color pages and student art and photography, as well as poems. It accepts submissions from all students in The Claremont Colleges, but only if they are taking a Scripps writing course. Still, the editors work hard to ensure that the majority of submissions are from Scripps students, through advertising and word-of-mouth.
Drake uses the Scripps Journal as a teaching tool, as it “provides models of what we expect from academic student writing on the level of both form and argument.” She particularly likes the Scripps Journal for its inclusion of a wide range of cross-disciplinary written and visual representations, which reflect both the interdisciplinary focus of the College, and also the “writing studies” focus of the Writing Program.
LM Ellzey, a creative writing major and contributor to Scripps Journal, will oversee the fiction section for the spring 2012 edition. “I want to surround myself with creative writing both during and after college,” she said.
“On the 5-C campuses, especially at Scripps, there is a disconnect between creative writing and academic writing,” says Ellzey. “The Journal really helps represent those that do writing, as well as show others that creative writing is possible, and it can be printed…. It’s just fun to have your writing in print.”
Ellzey has immersed herself in writing since she was in fourth grade and wrote her first novel, a murder. “It was really weird—at one point I decided I liked the bad guy better than the hero!”
Her writing includes poetry, essays, and fiction. You can read samples in the Scripps Magazine online version along with work by other Scripps students.
Thanks to student initiative and faculty and staff support and encouragement, creative writing thrives on the Scripps College campus.
Above: inVisible staff, clockwise from top left: Amy Borsuk, Victoria Davis, Nikki Broderick, Catherine Wang, Ann Mayhew, Asia Morris, Skye Olson, Emma Kellman
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