New Creative Writing club, Name (Pen)ding, to come on campus in the fall semester

Written By Sara Cronin, Co-Copy Desk Chief

A group of inspiring writers recently came together to create Point Park’s newest club, Name (Pen)ding, a creative writing group that allows students to share their work in a constructive environment to help improve their personal storytelling. 

The group was created after students shared two poetry readings for class, and Dr. Sarah Perrier, the chair of the literary arts department, was shocked by the number of those in attendance and the success of the readings. 

Perrier spoke to Christopher Girman, an assistant professor in the Department of Literary Arts and Social Justice, and suggested to Girman that they allow the students to run the poetry meetings. Soon after, Name (Pen)ding was born. 

“The classroom is a great space, but the omnipresent ‘instructor’ can sometimes – no matter how hard we try not to – stifle real creativity by insisting on certain grammar standards or agreed-upon standards of narrative discourse,” Girman said, who now serves as the club’s advisor. “There’s a certain way of writing for a classroom workshop that is less organic and more measured than just throwing some crazy ideas against a wall and seeing what sticks.”

Name (Pen)ding became officially recognized as a club on campus a week before classes were moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the club plans on meeting and recruiting more students during the upcoming fall semester.

“The club isn’t restricted to just English and creative writing majors. It’s [for] anyone who is interested in writing, has stories they want to workshop or who just want to meet like-minded people. Anyone’s free to come by,” Asher Ohms Winnie, treasurer of Name (Pen)ding, said. 

Winnie explained that the group won’t solely consist of poetry readings, but instead provide more of a laid back atmosphere for students to share their work with others to receive constructive criticism.  

“Since our club has been pretty small, even before we were even officially recognized, we’ve mostly [been] writing in between weeks and working on stuff that we were already doing for homework and sharing it,” Ohms Winnie said. “Most of it [has been] prose so far, but that’s subject to change when more people join.”

Once Name (Pen)ding becomes more established in the fall, Winnie explained that the club will focus on facilitating signups for members to meet with three or four other people and then split off into smaller groups.

“It’s really great to get feedback from people, but it’s hard to give accurate feedback [for] 20 people. We’ll probably [create] smaller groups, they’re more intimate, and people can sort of be themselves,” Ohms Winnie said.

The club’s past few meetings have been successful, and Name (Pen)ding plans to continue to host these meetings at Point Perk in the upcoming semester.

“Even in a few meetings, I’ve seen how students have taken the lead in learning about publishing opportunities, contemplating group trips to local readings, scheduling creative readings at Point Perk Cafe and sharing their work in more informal settings, like someone’s apartment,” Girman said.

As the faculty advisor to the club, Girman also explained that his goal is to help give Name (Pen)ding the resources they need to thrive in the club’s future, including guest writers, local speakers, audiovisual projects, on-campus creative readings and more.

“I’m most excited to get people to be more excited to share their work in public, both in terms of getting feedback for their stuff to improve, but also in terms of getting people comfortable with sharing,” Ohms Winnie said. “Hopefully we can get more people to the readings, those are really nice for everybody involved.”

Karen Dwyer, an associate professor of the creative writing program at Point Park, explained that there had been a creative writing group on campus nearly ten years ago, but the group had disbanded. 

“I love that it’s coming back. Anything we can do to support the arts, but specifically this type of art I think is deeply important,” Dwyer said. 

Dwyer explains that as a creative writing professor, she hopes that as Name (Pen)ding develops as a club, it will be able to reach out to other creative writing programs to potentially open up the opportunity for cross readings.

Even though the club is being postponed until the fall semester, Dwyer explained that she believed it is the perfect time for students to engage in the art of creative writing.

“I think it’s fantastic that they have self initiated the creation of [the club],” Dwyer said. “Anything we can do, especially in 2020 with so many different kinds of suffering going on, to produce empathy voluntarily in the world is an exercise on some level, and that’s what all writing is.”