Mermaid Tavern dives into literature

By: Justin Worthing ~Staff Writer~

Four professors from Xavier’s English Department are trying to create a more tight-knit community of English majors and minors through the informal Mermaid Tavern club.

The club, which meets every other Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Hinkle 201, provides a space for students and faculty to discuss books, practice creative writing and enjoy literature- themed games.

Dr. Niamh O’Leary, Dr. Jennifer McFarlane-Harris, Dr. Lisa Ottum and Dr. Kristen Renzi supervise the program this semester and are using student suggestions to guide the program’s direction.

“A lot of the topics that we’ve come up with for this semester came out of taking a survey of our loyal crew from last semester,” O’Leary said. “They wanted to do more game-like events, creative writing and they were also hoping for some tips and tricks to excel in your English classes. So we have a bunch of different versions of those planned this semester.”During their recent meeting, students and faculty played Book Jeopardy, which was designed by the four professors. Categories included villains, romantic leads, famous first liners and banned books. Students and faculty separated into two teams and competed for prizes. Dr. Yandell and Dr. Getz also participated.

“It was a lot of fun,” O’Leary said. “The prizes included fake moustaches and other kinds of excellent dollar-store finds.” Next month, Mermaid Tavern will create a March Madness bracket for literary characters, and members will debate on each character to determine who will emerge successful in the tournament.

Previous Mermaid Tavern events include reading award-winning modern literature and writing a hyperbolized history of the club, which originally began in 1931 at Xavier but was discontinued for some time.

The professors plan to create other games and activities for the Mermaid Tavern in the future since they want the club to be primarily an informal social organization and not a creative writing workshop or publication. “People have wondered if we’re a creative writing group and we’re not,” O’Leary said.

“We have done creative workshops, and we will continue to offer those, but the Athenaeum is really the home of the studentrun creative writing endeavors here on campus,” O’Leary said. Although the club is designed mostly for English majors and minors, anyone is welcome to attend.