image of Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs

Unless you are Emily Dickinson (the alleged solitary genius) or Thomas Pynchon who has barely revealed his face to the light of day, you are a writer looking for people to write with. College is a breeding ground for creative minds and although writing professors give great feedback, it’s the time you share with your fellow writing peers that will really help you find your voice and make connections for the future.

Writing groups on campus have appeared and disappeared throughout the years. For two years, I have been the president of the Society of Poetry, a group of poets that got together for workshopping during the first year and then slowly became an events oriented group. I am soon to graduate, however, and I have not yet seen a new group of writers emerge to keep the UCLA scene cohesive and active through readings, workshops, etc.

You too can be a leader in your writing community and gain valuable support from campus in order to throw events or reserve venues. What would Surrealism be without Breton or other leaders who sought to maintain the movements in conversation and action.

The benefits of creating a group through UCLA is that you get free venues, audiovisual equipment, promotion, and funding. It is a good way to practice before you starts attempting to create movements  in the real world.

Here are some things should be kept in mind when creating your own literary group on campus:

1. Do you want it to be exclusive or inclusive? Exclusive groups are only public to certain people, inclusive groups will send mass emails and have ways in which strangers can engage in the group activities. The quality or ‘high brow’ of your organization may be more difficult to control with the inclusion of strangers, but it may also draw attention of some geniuses that you might not have met otherwise.

2. Do you want to make it a workshop , an events organization, a culture group or all three? Depending on the enthusiasm of your group members, you might be able to exploit all three, but more likely than not, it will be a tiresome task for one person to juggle all three aspects of these outings, which leads me to the next point.

3. Do you have people willing to really help you manage the group? I was the sole leader of Society of Poetry for two years and frankly, it was very limiting when it came to administrative affairs…the group might have been a lot more consistent if I had different people checking and answering emails, making sure that the information on the site was current, taking care of venue reservations and paperwork, and finding out new ideas for outings. In other words: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate and you will be able to do more.

4. Make sure all the paperwork has been done and in a timely fashion!!!! You need to fill out paperwork in order to begin your group, so follow the deadlines. Follow the instructions carefully. You also need two more signatories to support your group, so find those people who believe in your project to co-sign. Everything from funding to reservations needs paperwork.

5. Advertise! You can’t be shy. Send email blasts through your department and people will start finding you. The best way to advertise, though, is by throwing events that make a name for your organization. In no time, people will be contacting you near and far to be part of your group.

6. Know what you’re talking about. People will respect you as a leader if they feel they can learn something from you. Keep updated on literature related news and keep people informed.

7. It’s about the people. Find ways to reach people through email lists, facebook groups, blogs, and make announcements in class to tell them about your new projects. Presence in part of the illusion of success and legitimacy…don’t tell anyone I said that.

New Group Registration begins April 4!!!
For more information, visit your bible of student groups: http://www.studentactivities.ucla.edu/

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Laura V. Rivera

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