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Word Marathon

Writing Center Staff and Students Join 24-Hour Poetry Reading

Writing Center tutor Stacie Klinowski, Director Jil Hanifan and tutor Joseph Wozlonis read during a 24-hour poetry marathon last month. (Photos by Dan Wilcox)

“The only defense against the ruin of the world is the creative act.”

— Kenneth Rexroth

ALBANY, N. Y. (May 2, 2017) — UAlbany’s Writing Center, in collaboration with the Albany Poets, recently sought to defend poet Rexroth’s statement — for a full 24 hours.

“Readings Against The End of The World,” a 24-hour poetry reading, was recently revived after a nearly 25-year hiatus.

Since its founding in 1984, the event has brought together a host of area poets, and this year, that also meant UAlbany students just starting out in their writing careers.

Some audience members listen in Husted Hall during “Readings Against The End of The World.”
(Photo by Naomi McPeters)

“Part of the reason I wanted to do this was to bring together the energy of new students of creative writing on campus,” UAlbany Writing Center director Jil Hanifan said. “This is a chance for people in Albany to meet my students and vice versa. I hope there’s more collaboration to create a real campus and community partnership around creative writing.”

Hanifan, who is also faculty mentor for the World of Writing Living-Learning Community, realizes how difficult it can be for students who have never read in front of their peers, let alone in front of seasoned poets, to share their voices. This event, she says, gives them the opportunity.

Dan Wilcox, a local Albany poet and peace activist, has been involved with the event since 1986, two years after its founding by the late Tom Nattell, an Albany poet.

“UAlbany students are part of the community … it is important to come together,” Wilcox said. The annual reading marathon ended after 10 years, and any desire to relaunch the tradition was squelched after Nattell lost his battle with cancer in 2005.

“After that,” said Hanifan, “there was much sadness around the idea of having the event again.”

But this year, Hanifan raised the idea of bringing the readings back, and from 7 p.m. Friday, April 21 through 7 p.m. the next evening they did just that, filling Husted Hall on UAlbany’s Downtown Campus with words.

Staffed by volunteers from the Writing Center and UAlbany students in general, the event has typically had a fundraising element for non-profit organizations. This year, it doubled as a fundraiser for the South End Children’s Café, a weekday program in the South End of Albany that addresses childhood food insecurity by providing free, healthy dinnertime meals along with academic enrichment, mentoring, exercise and participation in the arts.

By the end of the 24 hours, the poets had exceeded their goal of raising $1,000.

“'Readings Against The End of The World’ is important because it gives a creative outlet to members of the university, and helps raise money for a worthwhile charity," said senior Danielle York, a peer tutor in the Writing Center. “It helps get students involved in the creative community that is Albany.”

Junior Stacie Klinowski, also a peer tutor, echoed York. “I think it is important for us — all of us — to remember that poetry isn’t just what’s on paper, things to be left somewhere, forgotten about. Words become actions, and now, more than ever, is a time for action.”

For more information about the Writing Center, contact Jil Hanifan at 518-442-4064.

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