With the events for “Spring Into Well-Being” Week culminating into a lively Well-Being Day on April 17, the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being added a literary touch to the festivities with a Poetry and Prose Booth.
English MFA students manned the booth outside the JC South Plaza, writing customized poems, short fiction and nonfiction pieces on request. Visitors were asked to provide the authors with a general prompt or a character, a conflict and a setting to jumpstart each writer’s ideas.
Participants included Fiction MFA student, Justin Lafreniere, Poetry MFA student, Sarah Winn and Nonfiction MFA student, Maile Field. Each author expressed gratitude about getting the opportunity to brighten someone’s day through their writing and being able write freely about a range of topics.
“What you’re looking for very often is an audience,” Winn said. “So it’s really wonderful to have a ready-made audience just appear before you and say ‘Here’s what we want to read!’”
Of course, the thought of writing out multiple pieces in 10 minutes or less could prove to be overwhelming for any writer, and the MFA candidates were no exception. Yet they rose to the challenged wholeheartedly. Lafreniere explained that much of his motivation came from satisfying his readers’ expectations.
“You’ve just got to flow with what the person thinks they might need, but you never know what someone’s going to request. You just sort of go with what strikes you and hope you can finish it fast enough that they don’t leave,” Lafreniere said. “It takes a little bit of time to crank them out, but it’s good practice.”
Winn and Field also agreed that the practice was one of the best takeaways from the Prose and Poetry Booth.
“Any writing is good practice. It lets you just flex those muscles, because it is an exercise,” Lafreniere said. “Even though we’re writers, sometimes finding that space [to write] can be difficult. So having this dedicated time to write for people—it’s just fun, and it’s a little bit exciting.”
While there, we requested a piece for Fourth Estate, and Field wrote the following prompt:
Put down your fork. The news from South Korea is unsavory.
My husband just returned from a business trip. His best story is about interactive urinals.
It was at a rest stop. The screen above the pee-zone was a video game—his ‘progress’ depicted sanitized, a stream of milk from a cartoon character’s mouth.
“Korea is culturally advanced,” my husband said.
I’m not sure I agree.