5C Wordsmiths Bridges Colleges Through Creative Writing

Slam poets Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye deliver a performance. Kay wears a blue and white polka dot dress while Kaye wears a green shirt.
The 5C Wordsmiths were recently able to host Slam poets Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye for a performance and workshop. (Photo courtesy of 5C Wordsmiths)

When Alessandra Yu PO ’19 started at college, she struggled to find a creative writers’ community that spanned The Claremont Colleges. So, she took matters into her own hands, giving birth to the creative writing club 5C Wordsmiths.

With the scattered variety of creative writers who had formed small groups in their individual schools, event planning, communication with faculty, and resource gathering was frustrating to say the least.

Yu wanted a community that would allow for all creative writers across the 5Cs to write together, support each other in the creative process, and share any writing events that happen.

“The goal was to be the United Nations of creative writing at the 5Cs,” she said. “We wanted to bridge faculty and students from all schools and departments.”

The Wordsmiths have never been and will never be a closed group. Yu emphasized that “the Wordsmiths” is an umbrella term, which encompasses the entire creative writing community as a whole. While there are workshops and retreats that writers can attend together, the group is open to any and all creative writers who are interested.

The only members of the Wordsmiths who hold regular meetings and apply for specific roles are the Wordsmith Agents. Yu and Sarah Tran PO ’20 have acted as coordinating or managing agents who manage the group as a whole, and each of the other agents oversee a particular branch.

“Everything about the Agents team is student-led and very flexible,” Yu said. “We only have seven agents, so we don’t have the capacity to have more than one person in each branch. It would be great to have more agents to balance the work, especially in tech.”

Even with a relatively small team of agents, the Wordsmiths have been responsible for some of Pomona College’s most popular events.

In 2016, the organization brought Rupi Kaur, poet and author of bestselling works such as “Milk and Honey,” for a talk in which more than 500 students attended. More recently, they were able to host slam poets Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye for a performance and workshop.

“Because we’re an open community, we don’t see the same people at every event we host,” Yu said. “We would love to get to know the larger Wordsmith community even better, which is why we want to start doing mixers.”

Other than the proposed mixers, the Wordsmiths try to bring as many interested people as they can for an annual creative writing retreat at Pomona’s Halona lodge, a retreat center in Idyllwild that can be reserved by all Pomona students and staff.

At the retreat, writers have a fresh environment to hash out their works and also a space to share tips, compliments, or criticisms with one another.

“The spaces have helped me meet a lot of new people and get exposed to different approaches to creative writing,” Yu said. “It brings in a lot of perspective when I’m working on my writing.”

In years to come, the Wordsmiths are hoping to expand even further, reserving creative spaces and holding monthly workshops. They will also be a part of kickstarting a new on-campus literary magazine, Careless.

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