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Helicon West gives writers, students a voice

staff writer

Published: Monday, February 17, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 17, 2014 21:02

Helicon West 2014

Ryan Costanzo photo

Katrina Muirbrook reads a personal narrative at Helicon West on Tuesday. The venue provides a place for local writers to share their work.

The bimonthly featured reading and open mic series, Helicon West, provides a place for members of the writing community and USU students to have a voice.


“Everybody wants their work to be heard,” said Star Coulbrooke, USU Writing Center director and coordinator of Helicon West.


The event, held every second and fourth Thursday of the month in the Jim Bridger Room of the Logan Library, began in 2005 when Coulbrooke met with Michael Sowder, a professor of creative writing and poetry at USU. They both wanted a place where members of the writing community could read their works for an audience.


“Helicon is, essentially, an opportunity for the writing community of Cache Valley to meet, exchange ideas and to showcase a wide variety of writer’s work,” said Robb Kunz, an English professor at USU. “Besides the chance to hear others read their work, Helicon offers an open mic-style platform for anyone interested to read their current projects.”


The program starts at 7 p.m. with opening announcements and introduction and then gets right into the readings. The first section features guest speakers, which in the past have included members of the Utah League of Writers, USU alumni and USU students.


Kunz said past programs have included people like former USU instructor and HW planner Darren Edwards, members of USU’s creative writing club The Bull Pen,  published poet and USU professor Shanan Ballam, winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for the Novel Kirstin Scott, as well as poet laureates, slam poets and others.


After the featured readings, Helicon moves into the open mic section of the program. A signup sheet sits by the door before it starts, and those who want to sign their name and then get the opportunity to read their work.


“It’s terrifying to get up in front of people and read, but at the same time, Helicon West is a safe place,” said Jesse Betts, a graduate student studying literature and writing. “Everyone is very open and accepting.”

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