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Students celebrate creative writing certificates

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One after another the newly certified creative writing students stepped up to the microphone outside The Tavern.

They read selections from the work they had crafted over the course of the semester while the crowd sipped beer and munched fries.

Recently, there’s been talk of dissolving the English department’s creative writing program in order to focus on the English major’s main concentrations: Writing Studies and Literature and Cultural Studies. But it appears the certification is here to stay.

Dr. Thomas Hallock, an English professor, believes in the importance of creative writing and wants to revamp the creative writing program.

“We are trying to find a way to provide what students want while also meeting the realistic needs of our university and what we can accomplish,” said Hallock.

The English department hopes to combine face to face and online courses in an effort to move the creative writing program online. By doing this, USF St. Petersburg will be able to offer more undergraduate and graduate courses as well as more coherence and cohesiveness in the program.

“[Creative writing] is not going anywhere,” said Hallock. ”We realize it is a vital part and something that our students absolutely want.”

Honoring Heritage: Arielle Stevenson read from the memoir she wrote depicting the life of St. Petersburg native Mordecai Walker at the “Creative Writing Is Not Dead” event April 27. Whitney Elfstrom | The Crow’s Nest

Last week the creative writing students currently enrolled in the program came together at The Tavern to celebrate those earning their certificates.

The event, “Creative Writing Is Not Dead,” allowed participants to perform readings that showcased the skills they acquired through the program. The event also celebrated the Sigma Tau Delta literary journal, Papercut, and the pre-publication of “Salt Creek Journal.”

Megan Hammer, a sophomore global business major, is thankful the certificate program allowed her to experience creative writing, despite her drastically different major.

“The whole concept of being able to have two different specialties, and be skilled in both, is so cool,” said Hammer. “I think it’s an important part of our community on campus because we are such a diverse group.”

Hammer hopes to become a member of Sigma Tau Delta and contribute to Papercut. She believes that the rise of the literary journal will keep the creative writing certificate alive. Promoting the journal through social media will help get the news to students who may not have been aware of the creative outlet.

Arielle Stevenson, a USFSP alumna, also read that night. She shared the story of Mordecai Walker and his avocado tree, beautifully describing the deep-rooted heritage that surrounds the St. Petersburg Driftwood neighborhood.

Stevenson depicted the story of how Walker planted a Florida avocado tree in 1950 and how he fought for the right of his land against the bureaucracy that wanted to build I-275 right through his front yard. She captivated the audience with Walker’s tale about overcoming the decimation of minority communities across the South.

“[Mr. Walker’s] story remains distinct because he triumphed economically, culturally, everything-ly — becoming a middle-class black man in the South,” said Stevenson.

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