(Posted November 18, 2014)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A group of Juniata College students will celebrate female writers Nov. 14. to mark the 20th annual English Department "Unlock Your Voice." public reading. The event will be held in Ellis Ballroom at 7:30 p.m.

This year's event also marks the first year that Amanda Page, assistant professor of English, is organizing the program. This event is free and open to all including Huntingdon community members. There will be free baked goods and refreshments as well.

The theme chosen this year is "Write This in Fire," which encapsulates the idea that women fought for their right to speak. This theme was created by the students who are taking the one credit class under the supervision of Page and Judy Katz, professor emeritus of English and the former adviser for "Unlock Your Voice."

This year students are reading several pieces by authors including Audre Lorde, Sylvia Plath, and Gina Barreca.

Cody Januszko, a sophomore from from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., says that the piece he is reading by Lorde, "stresses the importance of reading and teaching literature by many types of authors, not just white men. Unlock your voice is a chance to be exposed to literature that you probably wouldn't find in a classroom."

Another student, Katherine Russell, a freshman from Mission Viejo, Calif., shares Cody's sentiments saying, "Thanks to my Women and Literature course, I'm inspired by the range of women's voices and I feel the need to read their words, to break the silence. 'Lady Lazarus' by Sylvia Plath, has incredibly violent and destructive imagery that begs to be read aloud, and details an experience very far from my own. I want to explore how far I can stretch my ability to become a woman who has known such pain."

Most students who are reading would like to try to use the public reading as a tool to break out of their shell.

For Claire Moulder, a junior from Downingtown, Pa., this is a very important part of the event. She says, "I chose to participate in Unlock Your Voice because it is something that is beyond the realm of my comfort zone and I am excited to read a piece by Audre Lorde that resonates with me."

This event covers a large range of works and a few students plan on reading pieces in different languages. Thida Win, a sophomore international student from Mandalay, Myanmar, is reading a poem called "The Ghost" by Kyi Aye in Burmese. She says, "This poem is an abstract form of existentialism. The poet is an existentialist and in the poem, the narrator was shocked and was frightened by her own existence and her own likeness. I like this poem and found that this poem resonates with my personality because to some point, I am an existentialist too."

An international student from France, Alexandra Baes, will be reading a piece by George Sand in French and English. She says, "I chose this piece because of everything it represented for women in the 19th century. George Sand made the choice to free herself from what society expected from women. By exchanging letters with De Musset, she made their tumultuous and passionate relationship public and exposed their sexual desire, which at that time was scandalous. She is still one of the most powerful figures of French feminism."

Other readers include Erika Young, a senior from Duboistown, Pa.; Molly Biddle a junior in high school from Huntingdon, Pa.; Maris Wilson,a sophomore from Elverson, Pa.; Asia Kaul a sophomore from Brooklyn, N.Y.; Rosemary Dean, a freshman from Cranston, R.I.; Kayla Borden, a freshman from Bunker Hill, W.Va..; Julia McMurry, a sophomore from Kensington, Md., Aubrey Treese, a junior from Elizabethtown, Pa.; Lauren Baretta, a freshman from Berlin, Conn.; Elizabeth Faust, a senior from Frederick, Md.; and Sara Berek, a sophomore from Flanders, N.J.

By Erika Young '15 Juniata Online Journalist

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.