by Bailey Blaker
WKCO’s latest project, “Sparks” — a radio program that features dramatic readings of student writing samples every other week — is giving writers across campus a new creative outlet to show off their work. The program has received 20 student submissions and is still accepting others.
Julianna Inman ’18, the creative director of the program, spearheaded efforts to get the show off the ground during the fall semester. The name of the program comes from the phrase “spark of inspiration” and is meant to convey the show’s overall purpose of showcasing short works and the inspiration behind them.
“It’s not your opus; it’s your spark, what you’re giving off right now,” Inman said. “You can’t do a lot in three to five pages, but it’s enough to get an idea of where Kenyon authors are going.”
The program accepts works of both poetry and prose from every genre, the only restriction being length. Taylor Hazan ’19 submitted her lyrical essay “Allegory,” which personifies rhetorical figures like analogy and irony as characters within a narrative. The program appealed to Hazan because of its accessibility to beginning writers on campus.
“A lot of the time it’s kind of intimidating to not only put yourself out there, but to also perform your own work,” she said. A Voice actor Sonia Calzaretta ’18 read Hazan’s essay on air during the premiere of “Sparks” on Sunday, Feb. 7.
Hazan, inspired by the experience of listening to her own work, has increased the amount of attention she pays to the sound of her writing. “There is a sound to everything you write and listening to it adds a whole new dimension to a piece of writing,” she said. “I think especially with the way different voices play with different rhythms, it was really fun to hear someone else take a shot at it.”
Those voices, provided by five student actors — including first-year students Sarah McPeek and Anthony Wilson and sophomores Luca Agunos, Natalie Kane and Calzaretta — work to elevate the emotional development of each piece, according to Charlotte Freccia ’19, whose piece “Magic” has also been performed as part of “Sparks.”
“Of course when I’m reading and rereading my writing it seems so unoriginal because I’ve read it a million times,” she said. But for Freccia, voice actor Sarah McPeek ’19 “made it sound new.”
For Freccia, the way an audience experiences a piece of writing changes with the medium of radio. “When it exists in a journal or anthology or something, it can be returned to again and again,” she said. “When it’s read on the radio it’s fleeting, so the language and the imagery has to be really immediate because you can’t go back and read over it again if you don’t understand. It has to be gripping in the moment enough for just a listener to be able to grasp it as it’s happening.”
Agunos is among those who have lent their voices to WKCO’s latest show. Agunos, who portrayed Jason Dean (J.D.) in Brave Potato’s production of Heathers: the Musical last semester, sees “Sparks” as an opportunity to expand upon his acting skills. “It was a great opportunity to still get my acting fix without the same commitment as a theatrical production with regular rehearsals,” he said.
Agunos believes the program will give writers more confidence in their craft.
“This is the opportunity for people whether they are writing the pieces, whether they are reading the pieces, to really take that chance,” he said, “and believe that they are someone who can go somewhere with their talent, and start in a place that’s welcoming and open and genuine.”