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Annual Write Like a Pirate Day at Stephens has academic component, too, matey

September 18, 2015

There were plenty of “arghs” and “mateys” being bantered around in Firestone Baars Chapel today, but “Write Like a Pirate Day” has a serious component, too.

The annual event—which corresponds with the national “Talk Like a Pirate Day”—serves as a way to get students to loosen up when it comes to writing.

Perfection often paralyzes the writing process, Associate Professor Kate Berneking Kogut stresses at the event, sponsored by the English/creative writing program.

“Too often we focus on self-editing, and sometimes that prevents us from moving forward,” she said.

During the hour-long event today, students were challenged to team up with peers they didn't know well and create a joint story. One student wrote the start of a story, then turned that work over to another student to build upon. The idea is to promote stream-of-consciousness writing.

But there’s plenty of fun, too. In addition to using the unique vernacular, students dress up and participate in a pirate parade, waving cross-bone flags and marching around the perimeter of the sanctuary. 

They also submitted pirate-themed haikus prior to the event, and winning poems were read aloud.

This year’s winners were: Alexandra Wilson; Jasmine Clayton; Haley Coburn and Sarah Marxsen.

Erika Westhoff received a special award for long-form haiku (she wrote several back-to-back, forming a longer story).

Heather Beger earned a “pirate sarcasm” award for her haiku, which used the word “argh,” and a sentence about the assignment, to fulfill haiku requirements.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day, which is technically tomorrow, was started by two men in 1995 and became an international sensation after columnist Dave Berry wrote about it in the early 2000s.

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