Writing About Life For Life: ‘Life After Literature’ Explores Literary Professions


Kyle Skinner
Staff Writer

Two College of Creative Studies literature students hosted “Life After Literature,” a collection of panels featuring local writers and University of California, Santa Barbara alumni that have made a living off of writing. The event took place last Saturday in the Student Resource Building.

The event was organized by Kat Wilcox and Julian Moore, both fourth-year CCS literature students at UCSB. Along with a team of coordinators, the two created four panels of experts of different focuses: journalism, advanced degrees, campus publications, and creative careers.

Each panel consisted of professionals or experts in the area of discussion. In the journalism discussions, there were writers from local newspapers, such as Santa Barbara Independent writer D.J. Palladino, to writers from campus publications, such as The Bottom Line’s own Cheyenne Johnson.

The advanced degrees panel featured Kay Young, an author, scholar, and UCSB professor who received her MA and Ph.D from Harvard; Pavneet Auklah, a former UCSB writing teacher and Ph.D candidate; and Teddy Macker, a poet, essayist, translator, short story writer, and Professor of Literature at UCSB who received his MFA in poetry from UC Irvine.

The Creative Careers panel consisted of Amber Wallace, the CEO of Dowitcher Designs; Alisha Westerman, Copywriter for The Designory; and Caryn Bosson, the Senior Manager of Communications at TreePeople.

The goal of this event was to bring together the many different areas of writing that people could get into after graduation.

“It’s kind of silly that we haven’t had all of the writing hubs under one roof before,” Wilcox said. “If we all came together, we could do a lot more.”

She said that she felt like they needed to provide the students with a career resource.

“As a graduating senior, I felt as if there wasn’t much in the way of writing career services for students, so I wanted to bring them all together in this event because I figured others may have felt the same way.”

The event was opened by a welcoming address from the dean of the College of Creative Studies, Bruce Tiffney. He talked about how literature is an extremely important part of our everyday lives and it is great that an event like this could bring everyone together.

The wonderfully organized panel discussions featured a moderator, usually either Wilcox or Moore, who facilitated the discussions and allowed the audience to ask the professionals questions. The students were very intrigued by what the panelists had to say and became involved in the discussion by asking questions.

The panelists encouraged the students to pursue their passion for writing as well as for higher education. Joe Donnelly, executive editor of Mission and State, Santa Barbara’s new narrative journalism initiative, told his audience, “Write where you can. If there’s one thing that journalist should be are standard bearers for critical thinking, and higher education provides people with that.”

Many students attending figured the event would help them out in the long run. Thomas Skahill, a third-year CCS literature major, said, “I came so that I was able to make an informed decision about what career I wanted to pursue later in life.”

Laura Lombardo, a third-year English major, also thought about life after college. “I want to explore the options on what to do after college with an English major, although I aspire to be an editor one day.”

In between panel discussions were receptions on the third floor patio of the Student Resource Building, where attendees could mingle and talk with the panelists to ask them more in-depth questions.

Moore and Wilcox were fantastic hosts, providing guests with food and drinks in between discussions, as well as greeting every guest personally, making sure they felt comfortable being at the event.

All in all, “Life After Literature” seemed to be successful in raising awareness of the importance of writing. As Dean Tiffney said, “Words are the cement of our civilization.”