Sigma Tau Delta 2023 Convention

By: Sam Smith and Emily Woods

Sam Smith (B.A. ‘23) and Emily Woods (M.A. ‘23) represented WIU’s Phi Delta chapter of Sigma Tau Delta at the 2023 Convention this past March 29-April 1. After navigating airports and Denver, Colorado’s downtown transportation, they each presented critical essays on literature and participated in the other sessions, workshops, and events offered. Sam presented her Margaret Atwood-inspired paper “Female Objectification and the Effects on Women,” and Emily shared her analysis of cultural influences on Langston Hughes’ and Joy Harjo’s poetry.

Sam writes, “I attended the convention last year but didn’t present anything, so this year I knew I had to submit a piece. I had a wonderful time last year, and I am so thankful I was able to not only attend again but also to present a paper I spent a long time writing. Sigma Tau Delta strives to feature local and lesser-known authors at the convention when possible, and I always leave with an armful of new books to read and authors to explore. In addition to the featured and keynote authors, I learned so much from my peers and alums from my presentation alone, and I have come away with ideas and recommendations to use in both my academic work and future classroom. From reading an original poem at Open Mic Night for the first time, to the highly anticipated Bad Poetry Night, Emily and I had just as much fun at the evening events as we did during the day’s events. In addition to a new-found friend and peer in Emily (we met for the first time literally 4 days before meeting up in the Denver International Airport), I met so many wonderful new people and even saw friends from last year! I am deeply grateful to Dr. Buchanan for her editing and mentorship, and to the English department at Western for supporting me financially and in turn making this trip possible. I look forward to potentially attending as an Alumni in the years to come.”

Emily says, “I was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta in 2018 at Illinois College but never attended convention during my four undergraduate years, so I am grateful for the opportunity I had not only to go as a graduate student but to read from a piece of work that I am proud of. Beyond the panel I presented on, I found connections between keynote speaker Brenda Peynado’s common reader The Rock Eaters and my master’s exit option on speculative fiction, young adult literature and a Texan peer’s queer studies (I actually plan to cite his essay in a final project for Dr. Buchanan’s English 559: The American Teenager!), as well as my creative writing goals and Sigma Tau Delta alumna DeAndra Miller’s publishing workshop. If I wasn’t taking a break to get lunch or dinner with Sam–or taking a nap–I was listening to as much as I could, jumping from session to session to hear a racial reading of Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Mere Wife, both beautiful and intentionally bad poetry, and the authors’ of The Toni Morrison Club secrets. Thank you again to Dr. Malachuk for the revision and presentation guidance before I submitted my essay as well as the Graduate School for awarding me financial assistance so I could accept its acceptance and engage with the English community.”