The Writing House Festival Chapbook is released at the end of every academic year. During this time, all seniors displays their work in a final showcase, recital, or performance, depending on their majors. The Creative Writing department’s tradition is to produce a chapbook: a mini-publication of works deemed best from graduating seniors--whether chosen from poetry, short stories, scripts, or a variety of genres. The chapbook’s release is celebrated with a live reading performed by the authors. Students’ family members are invited to attend the event on campus, which is included with end-of-year Festival productions from other departments.
The design of the chapbook varies based on the preferences of each senior class; the students may select a simple design one year, and an elaborate one the next. A senior visual artist’s design is selected as the cover. Also included is some sort of biography or identifying information about each of the contributors; the style and tone of these vary by year as well. Within recent years, the Creative Writing department has sought out Visual Arts majors to draw portraits of each of the senior writing majors. These are included in the final chapbook alongside a brief biography, giving each student’s selections an added element of personality. The process of completing the portraits and the selection of the cover art also provides one last innovative way for creative writing students to collaborate with other departments.
Unlike The Interlochen Review, published exclusively online, printed copies of the Festival Chapbooks serve as a physical memento for each graduating creative writer. Less formal than the Review, more focused than the Red Wheelbarrow, the chapbook is a time capsule of the graduating class. While their live reading is a notable and important event, taking home their own chapbook allows them to access the work for the rest of their lives. Not only are they able to look back and review their high school works, but they are able to reread their peers’ work as well, remembering the connections and bonds they formed while honing their craft as creative writers at the Academy.