Power of Reading Aloud

Academics, Arts & Humanities, Student Life, English, School of Arts & Humanities

By: Megan Simmermeyer

File Under: campus activities board, creative writing, open mic, poetry, writer in residence, writing

Liz Mason posing with cut out of Shakespeare.

This past fall, Mount Associate Professor of English, Jeff Hillard, was named Cincinnati Public Library’s Writer-in-Residence. As part of his position, he maintains the Writer-in-Residence blog where he posts his thoughts about all things words. In one of his posts, he discussed two local poets’ use of the Pendleton Arts Center as a stage for writers and poets to read their works aloud and the importance in the art of reading creative writing to an audience.

Dr. Elizabeth Mason, Associate Professor of English at the Mount, teaches many classes about creative writing and literature. Like Professor Hillard and the poets using the Arts Center, Dr. Mason believes in the power of reading one’s work aloud. “With all language, sound matters,” she says. “We hear the music of a piece of writing when it’s read out loud.” Furthermore, when reading out loud, Dr. Mason says that we hear things differently than when we read them in our heads. We can hear “the repetition of particular sounds” and “the inflections that the author intended for us to hear.” In other words, hearing a piece read aloud brings to life a whole new experience.

In her own classes, Dr. Mason has her students conduct workshops, which allow students to share their thoughts and ideas about each other’s work. “We will always workshop something as an entire class so that different writers can see the way that someone else would approach the same assignment,” she says. In her poetry writing classes, especially, she has her students read their pieces aloud so that the class can “better understand what the poet was trying to achieve or where the poem is faltering a bit.” At the end of the semester, she has each of her creative writing students read aloud a piece of which he or she is particularly proud of, even Dr. Mason reads aloud a piece of her own work.

When she read Hillard’s post about the Pendleton Arts Center, she was excited. “I’m thrilled that local authors have one more venue for sharing their work,” she says. “The best part about a public venue is that you get to witness the audience receiving your work.” For Mount students, reading their work aloud does not mean having to drive to downtown Cincinnati or even leaving campus. Writing classes, like Dr. Mason’s creative writing classes, are offered on campus, and every month the Campus Activities Board sponsors an Open Mic Night in the Harrington Center Food Court. Both are great opportunities for students to share their work or hone their craft.

Be sure to check out Jeff Hillard’s blog to read his latest post about the anatomy of a poem, and check out the Mount’s Calendar of Events for the next Open Mic Night. Take a look at the Department of English page, too, to see what kinds of writing classes are available.