By: Jessica Larkin ~Copy Editor~
The English Department’s Mermaid Tavern is back. The creative writing club that was founded in 1931 by Rev. Paul J. Sweeney, S.J., is now a place for students to gather and talk about books and writing in a fun and social way.
The club met and discussed literature in a stream of consciousness format. Two small groups formed, each discussing their own literary favorites. The conversation stemmed from books that the students and professors are ashamed to have never read,to the destructive and beneficial aspects of young adult fiction. There was no official format for the meetings, which encourage students to speak up about their favorite writing and start discussions with others in the club.
In the spirit of the Mermaid Tavern during the Elizabethan era, writing and reading enthusiasts will be able to gather to discuss their favorite writers and their passion for literature. While other clubs like Book Club and Xavier’s writing publication, “The Athenaeum,” exist on campus, Mermaid Tavern is a more social and impromptu club focused on discussing any authors students are currently reading and why they enjoy them.
The historical Mermaid Tavern was a pub where Renaissance poets, known as the “Friday Street Club,” would gather to drink, discuss literature and debate. Well-known names like Ben Jonson and Francis Beaumont were part of this communal gathering, and some scholars argue that
William Shakespeare was also a frequent patron of the Tavern. Unfortunately, the Mermaid Tavern burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Drs. Niamh O’Leary, Lisa Ottum, Kristen Renzi, Norman Finklestein, John Getz and Jennifer McFarlane Harris gathered the students on Friday evening for snacks and refreshments to talk about what the club’s roots and why it began. The gathering was lenient and easygoing as the professors stressed the idea that the students take a part in creating what the club is about. All students are encouraged to speak their minds about their interests in literature and writing and what they want to see from the club.
Many students expressed interest in creative writing, literary critique and satirizing different novels. There was also discussion of doing a writing workshop once a month where students can bring in some of their own writing to be critiqued by their fellow classmates. In the spirit of student leadership, the professors began the discussion, but encouraged students to jump in and include their own thoughts and opinions.
The professors want to create a sense of community outside of the classroom where students are more comfortable discussing their favorite authors with other students and professors. “It’s an opportunity to kind of create outside-of-the-classroom engagement,” O’Leary said. “What we are is kind of up to you.”