The Rapidian

Writers Under 30 series opens the floor up to young local artists

A series designed by GLCL and Bombadil Books promotes young writers making connections and sharing their art. The next event is a public reading that will take place on Thursday, September 29 and will feature eight writers under the age of 30.
The Writers Under 30 reading in July held in GLCL's beautiful, open venue.

The Writers Under 30 reading in July held in GLCL's beautiful, open venue. /Used with permission from GLCL

GLCL

Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters
758 Wealthy St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

In partnership with Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters (GLCL) and Bombadil Books, the Writers Under 30 series celebrates the work of writers under 30 years of age by hosting public readings, workshops and other literary events featuring young writers of the Great Lakes region.

Danielle Marie Clark, a student in her final year at Grand Valley State University and an intern at GLCL, was the one behind the idea for the Under 30 collective.

“I wanted to facilitate a space for my friends who had recently graduated or people in the community who were writing but didn’t have formal training maybe," Clark said. "There’s a ton of writing majors within my program but I wanted to meet other writers in the community to help connect writers under 30."

When Clark first became interested in holding a reading series at GLCL’s writing center on Wealthy Street, one of her professors at GVSU directed her to Roni Devlin, president of GLCL and the two dreamed Clark’s reading series into the reality of Writers Under 30.

The first Writers Under 30 event took place back in July and the turnout wasn’t what Clark had anticipated.

“I thought, honestly, that it was going to be just a really small reading for my friends,” Clark said. “That’s what I was expecting. But we had our first event and there were ten reading slots that were all filled and we had about 45 to 50 people in attendance.”

The next Writers Under 30 event is a Feedback Reading taking place on Thursday, September 29 at 6:30 p.m. at GLCL. Eight writers under the age of 30 will bring unpublished works of poetry, fiction or creative non-fiction to read in front of an audience. After the event, six more seasoned artists in the community will give the readers private written feedback on the content of the pieces they shared, the presentation and how the writers might move forward with their pieces during the revision process.

“I wanted Writers Under 30 to be a casual reading space that’s not intimidating for young writers,” Clark said. “I think readings can be intimidating or scary. It’s hard. It’s vulnerable to put your work out into the world and to have people listen to it. I wanted create an encouraging, positive space for people to share their work.”

The Feedback Reading is free and open to the public who are welcome to come and listen to fresh work by young local artists.

And while Writers Under 30 specifically gives space to under 30’s, the vision for the series isn’t necessarily to be exclusive to writers or the under 30 crowd. Clark sees it as a place for merging artistic mediums and bridging generational gaps.

“I want to work together with people who are making zines, people who are making art, musicians and collaborate altogether,” Clark said. “Something that I’ve noticed in Grand Rapids is that the arts communities and even the ages of people in their arts community are bisected. I think that we’re all supportive of each other. I would like to see us all come together, supporting each other in a little bit more of an intentional way. I think it helps to build creativity and inspire new work.”

In August, Writers Under 30 held a Literary Salon at the Collective Artspace where the beginnings of an installation by mixed-media artist Nichole Riley complimented conversations about writing and making art. 

According to Clark, one future event they have in the works is a reading for Writers Over 30 where people will share pieces from their past and present as a way of showing how writing changes over time and that it is transformational.

Clark is currently applying for a Master of Fine Arts in poetry. She recently appeared on Electric Poetry with KT Herr on WYCE 88.1 fm. Listen to Clark read original work and talk about her passion for encouraging young writers to recognize and celebrate their own talents.

Visit GLCL's Facebook page to get plugged into all that’s happening at the writing center.

Writers under the age of 30 can register for upcoming events on GLCL’s website.

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