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2016 Convention Stories

Always a Great Notion: The 2016 Convention

Dana GlasscockDana Glasscock
Convention Story Contest—2nd Place Winner
Alpha Tau Phi Chapter
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

"He couldn't seem to get his teeth into anything. Except books. The things in books was darn near more real to him than the things breathing and eating."—Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion

It's an uncomfortable experience to find yourself relating to characters in a Ken Kesey novel. It's an even more uncomfortable experience to admit publicly that you not only relate to some of these characters, but find them fascinating enough to present on their role in the author's broader work. Anyone who has read Kesey's work knows that often the stories can feel alienating, disquieting, and perhaps even lonely. These stories are wrapped in complex but artistic language that weaves one perspective into another, frequently within the same sentence. To many this can feel like chaos or a cacophony of voices with no coherence. Yet for those who listen a bit closer, Kesey's work shows itself to be beautiful, creating a home for itself between its own bindings and inviting a reader to listen and enjoy.

Story PictureIn many ways, my experience at the Sigma Tau Delta 2016 International Convention was a similar experience to reading Kesey. In a moment when hundreds of chapters are coming together and excitedly sharing their perspectives and loves of literature, a degree of chaos can be expected. Standing in a lobby where friends are reunited, attending speakers where audiences double the size of your whole department's undergrad population, or watching a panel whose content is very far from your own background, all can seem a bit like a literary cacophony. Yet listening closer to the voices lets a story of connections, passion, and dedication emerge from the chaos.

As I experienced the convention, including presenting my own paper and supporting my fellow University of Oregon chapter members as they presented theirs, I was able to weave my own perspective into the flowing narrative of the convention. My perspective on Kesey flowed into conversations about style and form, talking about these concepts in relation to everything from graphic novels to Maya Angelou's poetry. These were conversations where one person's love of literature flowed naturally into another's; where difference and variance were connected by a love of literature to create a wonderfully complex story of connections. This story is one that invited me to listen and enjoy in my time at the convention, finding its home between the bindings of opening events to closing banquet.