Passing through Danforth campus this April is uncanny. The dogwoods have blossomed, the tulips sway, and the sun sinks orange behind the stones of Seigle. And yet the space feels eerily empty. The streams of students weaving through the South Forty, the river of laughter filling the DUC, the forest of furrowed brows in the basement of Olin, cramming for a midterm or tweaking a final paragraph—without these flashes of sound and soul, the season sighs like an abandoned book. The faculty feel it. The deans feel it. The birds and the squirrels and the trees feel it.
But this spring will not be silent. No matter how distant they are from St. Louis, your voices shall be heard. Emerging Voices has long been an outlet for first-year expression—to declare, as a university and as a writing community—that the thoughts, desires, and diverse experiences of the first-year body matter, that your words on the page have meaning. While this year we may not fete your voices publicly, it is even more vital to honor their power and reckon with their implications.
The seventeen first-years presented in this video were nominated by their College Writing instructors and selected by jury of faculty writers. These students are funny, dolorous, witty, droll; they are wistful, incisive, disarmingly candid. One describes the pink cup he served his ailing grandmother; one recounts stealing his older sister’s Kit-Kat; one explores the limits of narrative through the lens of Chimamanda Adichie; another delights in her Disruptor footwear biting into the mud of a music festival.
Sometimes they write in prose; sometimes in verse. Sometimes they jest; sometimes they curse. They are everything you’d expect from such a robust class, and nothing like the nihilistic memes that have come to haunt 2020. They are the voices of a first-year class divided by disaster, but united in the decibels on display here. Let us celebrate their depth of spirit.
Emerging Voices Readers, in order of appearance, include:
- Marc Ridgell, Seven Mere Things (0:12)
- Ben Davidorf, The Pessimism Disorder (3:56)
- Jovilyn Co Dalena, No Name Woman: A Single Story of China (8:07)
- Lexy Courneya, Scarlet Corduroys in Santorini (11:32)
- Olivia Germann, Where I Am From Mosaic (14:18)
- Elise Requadt, Mosaic (15:35)
- Kennedy Morganfield, How to Train Your Disruptors (18:13)
- Alex Rubin, Suds (21:32)
- Ephraim Oyetunji, To Infinity and Beyond (25:58)
- Tyler Schutt, Mission: Olfaction (28:40)
- Quinn Wai Wong, A Passenger (32:46)
- Wesley Yin, Mosaic: Where I'm From Poem (33:31)
- Nandini Jain, Running Through Time (34:22)
- Ray McIntyre, Everyday Luxury (36:23)
- Maya Tsingos, Creative Nonfiction Back & Forth (37:08)
- Megan Matlock, From Spoonfuls to Fork Holes (41:30)
- Alex McLaughlin, Timeline, Timepiece (44:14)
We acknowledge the following students who were unable to read for this video:
- Austin Zijun Bao, An Unfavorable Present
- Dylan Rosenthal, It's About Time
- William Ho, Plates Clatter, Conversations Ensue
- Mati Rogers, The Surveyor: Implication of the Individual
- Sydney Medford, Tidying
Thanks to Tarrell Campbell and Allyson Didier of the College Writing Program for the creation of this video.