May 22, 2012
by Stephen Danilovich '14
The Knox Writers' House, an audio archive created by Knox College students and faculty, was featured recently in the National Endowment of the Arts' Big Read Blog.
In an April 9 blog post, "The Spoken Word," Knox post-baccalaureate fellow Emily Oliver '11 and Knox Associate Professor of English Monica Berlin were interviewed about how the Knox Writers' House project was conceived. The Writers' House is an online archive that aspires to be an auditory map of American essays, poetry, and fiction.
Oliver and fellow Knox students Sam Conrad '11 and Bryce Parsons-Twesten '10 traveled across the United States, compiling more than 1,200 audio files of poetry and prose readings by around 400 writers.
The Big Read Blog interview with Oliver and Berlin also discussed the value of hearing a poem out loud, as well as a poet's relationship to his or her geographical roots.
Berlin, who has taught poetry at Knox since 1998, expressed her belief in the importance of community -- something that the Knox Writers' House project brings to light.
"So much of the work that writers do is solitary. One of the joys of this project has been a kind of digital collaboration speaking across state lines or county lines," Berlin explained. "There's also this sort of marvelous way in which the intersection of all of our lives-they become tighter. We are less far apart."
Oliver explained why the writers who participated in the project were so enthusiastic about it.
"First of all, it's really fun: the one-on-one-the event of recording," Oliver said. "And it sort of speaks to the Internet age. These works are digitized, and anyone with a computer can hear any of the work.... It's a way to share with the world."
The Big Read is an initiative to encourage reading and literature nationwide, first launched by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007. The Big Read Blog features interviews with writers and poets, analyses of artistic works, and posts about literary events taking place around the United States.
The entire blog post may be viewed at The Big Read Blog.