Not a spare table or chair was to be found Tuesday night at The Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern in Cleveland. However, the crowd—which included a significant number of Hiram faculty and students—was not there for the bar’s legendary loaded hot dogs or crunchy tater tots. Instead, they gathered to hear Literary Cleveland: 5 Under 25 writers read their poems and short fiction pieces.
Hiram graduates Alysandra Dutton ’15 and Sara Shearer ’17 were among the five emerging writers spotlighted by Literary Cleveland. The literary organization noted the writers as creative and fresh voices in the field.
Both Dutton and Shearer graduated from Hiram’s creative writing program and have since continued to make their impact on the world with their words.
Dutton’s work has been honored by the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Intro Journals Project and the Echo Regional Literary Contest. She works as a narrative designer and scriptwriter for Asmadi Games and lives in Cleveland.
In recent months, Dutton said she has focused on building her portfolio and getting exposure for her work by participating in open-mic events. She added that she was “thrilled” to be honored alongside the other distinguished writers chosen by Literary Cleveland.
Shearer has published poems in the Columbus College of Art and Design’s Botticelli magazine and in the University of Pittsburgh’s Collision. During her time at Hiram, her poems and fiction garnered multiple awards and recognitions.
At the 5 Under 25 event, Shearer read three poems, one from her senior capstone project and two newer works. Her distinctive prose about sunken fighter planes and “depression meals” of (possibly expired) eggs delighted and entertained the audience.
“It’s super cool to be like one of five chosen and it’s really awesome to be here with Alys,” Shearer commented after her performance. “It just shows how awesome Hiram’s creative writing major is.”
Dutton, who took the stage right after Shearer, read a flash fiction piece titled, “NO/YES ST.” Her colorful language and imaginative descriptions earned laughs and startled looks of amusement from the audience.
Dutton also noted how honored she was to share the stage with a fellow Hiram graduate and friend. Dutton was Shearer’s RA just a few short years ago in Miller Hall.
“Sara’s poetry and fiction has always made an impression on me. Sara has a style like no other and serious potential in the field,” Dutton said.
Dutton added that her time in Hiram’s writing program made her the writer she is today.
“[At Hiram] I had the opportunity to work with students who were interested in the full gamut of genres,” she said. “I believe that Hiram is one of the only undergraduate writing programs with such a diversity of genre in the workshops. It’s absolutely refreshing and the exposure to different kinds of writing is in keeping with the interdisciplinary, liberal arts model that Hiram does so well.”
Speaking of their alma mater, the two writers both plan to return to the Hiram campus this weekend for the “Run for Grace and Andy.” The annual event, which honors the memory of two students in the College’s creative writing and music programs, raises money for scholarships in those fields. Shearer was one of the three scholarship winners in 2016.
As for the future, Shearer hopes to write and gather a book-length amount of poetry for publication. Dutton plans to continue building her portfolio and is considering graduate school.