Duke Celebrates National Day on Writing

Last week, Duke wrote.

writing wall 2

One student's memoir: "I lived to come to Duke!" (courtesy of Tara Kelly)

October 20th marked National Day On Writing, an annual celebration established by the National Council of Teachers of English.

The NCTE website states the event’s mission statement:

  • highlight the remarkable variety of writing we engage in today;
  • provide a collection for research on whether writing today has risen to new highs or sunk to new lows; and
  • help us help others to write better.

The Duke Writing Studio planned several activities around campus to engage the University community in writing. Employees of the Thompson Writing Program, writing students and volunteers staffed activity tables on East and West Campus.

On the Bryan Center plaza, participants wrote six word memoirs on brightly colored paper. The idea was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s famous six word story, “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Smith Magazine recently challenged readers to write their memoirs in six words, and thus the idea was incorporated into National Day on Writing’s events.

The memoirs were then placed on a “Writing Wall”–fence like structure set on the grass veranda.

Some highlights?

“Left California for North Carolina. Mistake.”

“Came, saw, conquered. Had second thoughts.”

“I went to the Majors Fair.”

National Day on Writing

Tabling at West Campus' Perkins-Bostock Library.

Elsewhere, at a table between the arches of Perkins and Bostock libraries, students were filmed with FlipHD Video cameras. They were asked: What is writing like for you?

Students talked about a number of the joys and pains of writing, mentioning:

  • How difficult it is to get started
  • Love/hate relationships with academic writing
  • Journaling to de-stress
  • The difficulty of writing as an international student

Students, grad students, and other Duke community members stopped by the table, some to talk to us and some just look at what was going on. The videos collected throughout the day will be compiled and put on the Thompson Writing Program website.

Thanks to all students, faculty and strangers that came to support writing at Duke!


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