In under three minutes, write down all the words you can think of that start with the letter “L” – love, like, locus, liquid. This is the prompt that opened the Egg Timer Writing Club last Wednesday, one of the many creative writing spaces run by Mt. A students.
Every Wednesday at 8 p.m., you can find members of the Egg Timer Writing Club nestled in Thunder & Lightening enjoying drinks and writing together. Designed to foster a welcoming, creative atmosphere for writers, the club offers writing prompts to which participants respond in a short allotment of time. Afterward, attendees are invited to share their responses with the group.
The Egg Timer Writing Club is organized by Mount Allison’s literary and photographic journal, 7 Mondays. In its 23rd year of publication, 7 Mondays is one of the few professionally published undergraduate and peer-reviewed creative journals in Canada. Any Mt. A student can submit their work to the journal, attend sponsored events and even apply to be on the editorial board.
Thaddeus Holownia, fine arts department head at Mt. A, has been involved with 7 Mondays since its second issue.
“I took on the role of publisher to give [the journal] some kind of unity,” Holownia said. “What I saw were editors who were very committed to the creative process of getting everything together and editing it into a journal. But year to year, the consistency of [editors who] understood how to physically put it together or how to fund it was lacking.”
In order to gain consistent funding, a group of editors went to the Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU), which agreed to fund the journal through an annual fee of three dollars per student.
Holownia believes it is important for students to be able to express their literary creativity in a public forum.
“It’s a big deal for people when someone can take a beautiful book that’s produced professionally and go somewhere and say, ‘I’ve had my work published for the first time in this,’” he said.
“That’s significant and it blows my mind that it is not recognized as a serious academic part of [the Mount Allison] institution and is not just funded as an important outlet for creativity and taken with the seriousness that something like this should be.”
Kennedy Lundberg is a fourth-year English major and member of the 7 Mondays editorial board.
“Anyone from any program can contribute. A lot of the events we host are partnered events, we can support other groups [on campus] and they can support us,” Lundberg said. “I think it’s really cool that it’s made of pieces of my peers. They all get to come together and make this beautiful journal.”
7 Mondays is not the only student group at Mt. A that publishes a journal. The Underbridge Press, a student-run publishing organization founded in 2011, has so far published one novella, Ragged, and two journals, Joypuke and Zettel. Still ongoing, the third issue of Joypuke is due to launch next spring.
Unlike 7 Mondays, Joypuke publishes works from writers around the world, although Mt. A students make up a significant portion of its contributors. Saskia van Walsum, acting production head of Underbridge Press, said that her favourite part of working for the Underbridge Press is “empowering other people to put their work out there.”
This year, the Underbridge Press will be undertaking a new project, a multilingual journal called Ellipsis. To be launched online in January 2017, the digital journal will showcase multilingual works and provide a rolling call for submissions.
“It’s a big undertaking, but we would like to make a multilingual journal,” said van Walsum. “Mt. A has a French community and it also has a large international community, and we want to reflect that diversity.”
Currently, projects by the Underbridge Press are covered not by students’ activity fees, but by loans taken out through the MASU. “We don’t have built-in funding, van Walsum said. “It’s always kind of a scary moment because we have to the pay [the loan] back ourselves if we don’t make enough money.”
van Walsum is also in charge of the Creative Writing Group. On Thursdays at 8 p.m., you can find its members writing away in the Bermuda Wing of the Student Centre.
“We do really fast, prompt-based writing exercises,” explained van Walsum. “It depends on the group every year. This year the group really wanted to just make time for writing, so once a month we’ll have a meeting where everyone sits down and just writes. It’s been really nice.”
The Creative Writing Group was initially started by van Walsum and a few of her friends. van Walsum is not an English major but enjoys writing prose. She wanted to create a space for students that is not strictly for poetry and allows students to write in a stress-free environment.
Wherever your literary interests lie, there are plenty of avenues in Sackville to express your creativity.