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Collection of Talent:

On a recent trip to the local book store, my husband and I strolled over to the children’s books. As we perused the aisles, we found ourselves acting like big kids ourselves. We found editions and reprints of books we used to have, and lost ourselves in the excitement and bought way too much for our impending little one. Among the tiny tot tomes was Dr. Seuss.

“Oh the places you’ll go!” it read. And much like the random absurd food cravings I’ve been having at odd hours (pasta fagioli is like crack to my inner preggos addict), this aforementioned declaration spread across the page made me arbitrarily crave the taste for something a bit different in literature. Something I feel all too often goes underlooked: the anthology.

Anthologies provide a range in theme, prose styling and have nearly no limit in their meaning or their destination. Yet they are short enough in length that it’s a wonderful way to escape one’s afternoon. It’s impossible not to appreciate the way anthologies bring together diverse voices in poetry, non-fiction and fiction in a unified way. Now English instructors and co-chairs Mary Ellen Martino and Kelly Cannon at Coastal Carolina Community College debut another great addition, “The New River Anthology.” On Thursday, October 6th at 12:30 p.m. all are welcome to stop by and hear Coastal’s talented students read their original works located on the cafeteria patio. The reading is free.

“This is the third anthology we’ve done together,” Cannon explains. “It’s been going strong. It’s an annual publication that features student writing, and now we’re featuring artwork created by students as well. Everyone loves to hear the students read. It’s a big step to get up there in a room of strangers, peers and faculty. We teach in such a diverse culture that it’s more than interesting for them to share their stories in this setting. It’s wonderful to hear them as well.”

Perspective is exactly what great anthologies are known for. With “The New River Anthology,” Meghan McGrath pays a playful homage to ordinary things that many would otherwise disregard. For those who are familiar with my articles, you may already know appreciating the simple things in life is a string for which my heart listens. It is a sentiment Cannon agrees with.

“Sometimes I feel some don’t find the playfulness in poetry or know that poetry can [even] be playful,” she says. “This liveliness was exciting to see in this anthology…so many genres, ideas, passions and levels. That’s a benefit for all who enjoy the art of writing. I looked at some old editions of our anthologies in our library. They were old and torn and that’s a good thing. People are picking them up and enjoying them.”

Unfortunately, there is a broad misconception among many (not necessarily only in Jacksonville, but beyond the city limits as well) that a community college is merely a point of transit. “The New River Anthology” is a gentle nudge to disprove this and to remind everyone that Coastal Carolina is different. The college strives to change this negative, ignorant attitude, and within every innovative project they focus on, they achieve their goal to change a little more daily. Hands on from birth to publication, students and faculty have taken “The New River Anthology” and made it among the many inventive aspects Coastal Carolina continues to offer, not just to its students but for the community as well.

Martino says both the faculty and the students of the college are excited about producing and sharing the anthologies each year. Plus, contributions aren’t just from the English department but the science and math departments, too. “It’s about celebrating the students’ work and sharing with the community,” she notes. “It’s a [way for] first-time writers to get their words out and to hold something in their hand. It’s a stepping stone. We’re doing great things here at Coastal Carolina and I’d love for everyone to recognize we do have talent in the community—and this anthology is one of the many ways for us to show it.”

Students, faculty and staff of Coastal Carolina can find the full anthology on the Campus Cruiser, the school’s online portal. Otherwise, folks can visit Coastal Carolina’s website, www.coastalcarolina.edu, for more information about the work. New submissions for the next edition of “The New River Anthology” will be accepted in late January.

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