Student Reading Series offers open environment for writer’s

Writing consultant Allie Gonzales works with a group of students inside of the Kleiner Commons Sunday, April 12, 2015 as part of the Writing Where You Are event.


GVL/Archive Writing consultant Allie Gonzales works with a group of students inside of the Kleiner Commons Sunday, April 12, 2015 as part of the “Writing Where You Are” event.

For many college students, the audience for their writing includes themselves, their professor and possibly a roommate for a quick proofread. Grand Valley State University’s Student Reading Series (SRS) changes that notion, giving students an open space to read their creative works in front of an audience.

SRS will welcome back the student writers who will become readers at its kickoff event Thursday, Sept. 22. The monthly event, where writers can showcase their original literary works, is organized entirely by students. This month’s reading will take place at 6 p.m. in the Neimeyer Honors College reading room.

GVSU students Ashlyn Rowell, Danielle Clark, Teresa Williams and Joslyn Mara are this year’s SRS coordinators. The group is looking forward to beginning the series with an open reading, where students are encouraged to share what they have worked on over the summer.

Thursday’s reading will have time for eight to 10 readers scheduled on a first-come, first-read basis. Throughout the year, SRS events will be themed readings, as past themes have included Halloween, Valentine’s Day and more. Additionally, SRS offers prizes for the best reader of the night based on an audience poll.

Before becoming SRS coordinators, reading at one of these events helped guide both Rowell and Clark toward an academic focus in writing. Both students attended an SRS event before deciding on a writing major or minor.

Although other events may have led them to where they are now, the creativity, encouragement Rowell and Clark found in SRS contributed along the way. While the event is mainly for reading rather than critique or work-shopping, organizers hope the readers grow as writers through the experience.

“As a writer, it is good to have reading experience on your resume before you go out into the real world,” Clark said.

Attending and reading at these events can also help writers find a connection with their audience, create their own reading styles and build confidence in their work.

“Reading out loud is a different experience than reading a piece in your head or having a friend read it,” Rowell said. “You start to think about the audience more, the way they’ll understand it and the facial or audible reactions they might have.”

Although readers may see audience reaction, Rowell emphasized the low stakes and supportive atmosphere of the readings.

“It’s usually a student audience, so you don’t have anyone critiquing your mind it’s more like they’re just absorbing,” Rowell said. “It’s a safe place to read.”

Rowell encourages students of any academic discipline to come to the event, whether it is to read or just listen, as a way to get involved with the writing community.

“If you’re not a writing major or minor, it’s a great way to meet other people who have similar passions,” Rowell said.

Clark also advocated for the welcoming and encouraging atmosphere SRS offers.

“There is a lot of support in the organization, people are there because they want to be there,” Clark said. “It’s like reading for audiences of friends.”

The goal of SRS, Clark said, is to give students a chance to read their work and have it heard.

More information for the Student Reading Series can be found at