Manuscript writers break hearts, buck tradition

Bill Thomas, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Every Valentine’s Day, tokens of affection of every size, shape and retail price change hands a thousand times over.  Boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives, the young and the old, male and female, all show their loved ones how much they mean to them with flowers, candy and jewelry, not to mention other exchanges of a decidedly more “naughty” nature.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous gift item to become synonymous with the holiday is the Valentine’s Day card. Writers for companies like Hallmark and American Greetings see their words printed on little squares of cardboard in elegant cursive script, with the intent being to help lovesick customers find the perfect way of expressing the emotions they feel for their significant others.

For some, though, the results are more saccharine and insipid than genuinely romantic.

“Valentine’s Day is a very sappy holiday and its focus is too much on love and gushing Hallmark cards and chocolate,” Miranda Baur said, explaining the reason Wilkes University’s Manuscript Society has decided to hold an “Anti-Valentine’s Day” poetry reading on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. in Kirby Hall.

Baur, a sophomore English major, has been a member of the Manuscript since her freshman year and now serves as the organization’s public relations editor.

“We wanted to bring some realism to the holiday,” she said. “We wanted to show that it’s not all about chocolate and flowers.”

Since 1947, Manuscript has continuously published a free literary and visual art magazine, also called Manuscript. The magazine gives students a chance to flex their creative muscles and share their passions with the campus community. It comes out twice a year, once in the fall semester and once in the spring, with this semester’s issue expected to see release sometime near finals week.

In addition to the magazine, Manuscript also holds poetry readings every month. Mischelle Anthony, an associate professor of English who has been a Manuscript faculty adviser since 2004, pointed out that every year brings fresh faces to the student-run organization, and with those fresh faces come new perspectives and new directions.

“I have seen Manuscript strengthen and grow over the years. Every year is a new experience,” Anthony said. “This year’s staff is really into reaching out to other organizations and maintaining a larger on-campus presence. For example, Manuscript has decided to reach out to the Wilkes University Gay-Straight Alliance to hold a special poetry reading focusing on gay and lesbian issues on March 19.”

For February’s poetry reading, though, the “Anti-Valentine’s Day” theme was chosen simply as a way to emphasize individuality over tradition.

“Valentine’s Day has become this mainstream thing that says ‘Here’s what you do if you love someone, here’s the appropriate thing to do,’” Anthony said. “I think the Manuscript staff is trying to say ‘Be creative. You don’t have to be a part of the mainstream. Be yourself, even if that means not being (in line with the accepted norms of) Valentine’s Day.’”

For more information about Wilkes University’s Manuscript Society, including how to contribute to the poetry readings or the magazine, email [email protected]. The deadline for the spring 2012 issue is Sunday, March 18. Those interested can also attend the Manuscript staff meetings held every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Stark Learning Center, Room 7.