On March 5th the Creative Writing department held a colloquium event called The 21st Century Creative Writer. This panel brought together the talents and skills of three people who were both creative writers and skilled in an assortment of “twenty-first century” technological skills. I was able to hear both Monica Ong and Adam Parrish present their work. (Unfortunately, I was not able to stay for the third panelist.) Both speakers were also able to share very helpful advice concerning learning and applying tools across multimedia platforms.

Monica Ong is a graphic designer and a poet, as well as a highly skilled and talented user of other technological skills. She presented her own personal poems and discussed the ways that she implemented different media as an integrated part of her poetry. For example, she used a catscan of a relative’s brain with the words of her poem printed on as a part of her work. The other part of her presentation focused on how a creative writer would one their online skills. Monica introduced programs such as NobleDesktop, Adobe InDesign Publishing, Blurb.com, and General assembly, highlighting the benefits of using each of these tools to help accelerate the online presence of a creative writer. One interesting piece of advice that she gave was that one should focus on using one tool very well – not trying to learn every aspect of every platform, as well as crowdsourcing materials. This helps strengthen your image because honing a skill and knowing how to use it well may be more helpful than trying to learn all of them. She also mentioned that managing, marketing, and collaborating, along with having durable ideas are key things to keep in mind.

The second presenter, Adam Parrish, is a professor, programmer, and poet. He creates interactive telecommunications programs, and teaches classes on how to write computer programs that output poetry. He believes that creative writing and programming are in love, and that we have only figured out a few ways to display text since we have started to use it. Computer programs that process text bring about a question of authorship, which makes the idea of authorship much more complex. Both presenters demonstrated ways to help accelerate the careers of the creative writer in an ever-changing environment.

- Rana Ayhan