On Friday, April 24, students and faculty gathered to attend the 2nd annual Lit Crawl, getting drunk not off of alcohol, but off of their love for literature. The event, organized by St. Olaf English honors society Sigma Tau Delta with help from the English department, the Poetry House, the Race and Ethnic Studies Program and the St. Olaf Theater Appreciation Society was well attended and featured voices from all over campus.
The idea for the Lit Crawl came about last year in an effort to build a community in the English department and feature voices from students from all over campus. The Lit Crawl utilized the concept of a pub crawl at which the participants move from location to location with a different event happening at each station. The event was held in three parts, starting with a reading from professors, followed by an open mic and ending with a reading by award-winning Minneapolis author Ed Bok Lee.
This year, Sigma Tau Delta co-presidents Andrew Wilder ’15 and Madalyn Rose ’15 decided that they wanted to take the event further and incorporate new elements into the previous year’s event. They made changes that increased attendance, including bringing in pizza for the last station attendance dwindled as the dinner hours approached last year and bringing in an author from the Cities to do the final reading. This offered students a chance to hear from not only their professors, but also from outside authors that students don’t typically have the chance to witness.
The event began in Rolvaag Memorial Library, where students sat and listened to professors read from their favorite authors, with some professors even sharing works of their own. The works ranged from the abstract to the more lyrical, each bringing a different element to the room.
“I think the professors really enjoy this because it gives them a chance to share the literature that they love outside of a classroom setting,” Wilder said. “It’s a chance for them to organically bond over the common literature they all love.”
After the readings by professors, the event transitioned to the undercroft of Boe, where attendees could hear readings from students in a more informal setting. The space was quiet as each person stepped up, yet it transformed once they started speaking. The power and presence of their voices filled the room with each word uttered.
The students that participated came from multiple departments around St. Olaf. The open mic offered students who were not English majors the opportunity to feature their pieces and to meet other students and professors with similar interests.
The final event was held in the Lair. There, Ed Bok Lee read poems and pizza was provided. The incorporation of Lee, who is an exceptionally performative poet, gave students the opportunity to connect with an award-winning author and be inspired by the success he has achieved.
The event will continue annually in order to foster an environment where English majors and non-English majors can come together to appreciate a common love for literature. In future years, students hope to continue to bring in outside authors and keep the well-rounded spirit of the event to highlight students, professors and other working authors.
“I really enjoy having a mix of the classics, but also the contemporary stuff that’s being written here and now,” Wilder said. “Its kind of the idea that literature is alive. There is great literature that is being produced right now and right here at St. Olaf, and I think that’s something to celebrate.”
Photo Credit: ANDREW WILDER/MANITOU MESSENGER