UM-Flint's Rough Draft Cafe fuels Flint writers at Flint Public Library

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Vicky Dawson, Amanda Seney, Michael Ricard, and Noah Beaumon
The Rough Draft Cafe in the Flint Public Library makes the UM-Flint Writing Center's services accessible to the community. Pictured here from left to right are Vicky Dawson, Writing Center coordinator; Amanda Seney, Michael Ricard and Noah Beaumont, Writing Center tutors.

The Marian E. Wright Writing Center, the University of Michigan-Flint's hub known for assisting students, faculty and staff with writing and revising papers and speeches, recently opened a site at the newly renovated and renamed Gloria Coles Flint Public Library in order to support the greater Flint community. 

The community writing center at GCFPL, aptly named the Rough Draft Cafe, is staffed by UM-Flint students and alumni who are prepared to help community members with a variety of projects ranging from writing memoirs and poetry to school assignments, resumes and cover letters and professional writing projects. 

Amanda Seney from Vassar is just one UM-Flint alum who will be working at the site. A 2022 English language and literature graduate, Seney said that she and her co-workers can also provide feedback as well as guidance with all phases of the writing process.

"Our staff has a lot of practice listening to writers and working through their ideas with them, as well as providing our perspectives as readers," said Seney. "We are also knowledgeable when it comes to the practical elements and details of writing, so we know the answers to a lot of questions writers may have, as well as places to look for the answers we don't have."

Seney added working at the Writing Center is a great way to give back to the community that had offered her assistance as a student. 

"I think we create stronger communities when we share from our abundance. I've been the recipient of a lot of shared resources and talents over the years and this seemed like an opportunity for me to give back," said Seney. 

This isn't the first time that the Writing Center has gotten creative in order to support writing within the community. In May, the Writing Center hosted a creative writing retreat open to the community while in June it offered a Dungeons and Dragons-themed creative writing series geared towards high schoolers. In addition, the Center hosts weekly meetings for members of The Writer's Circle, which was formed in 2019 following a six-week workshop that focused on teaching budding writers how to author a short story.  These meetings are open to all UM-Flint students, faculty and staff.

Jacob Blumner, Writing Center director and professor of English, said that the location at GCFLP is a dream come true and that Wright's generosity is what helped him and the Writing Center staff launch the project."Libraries are ideal locations to meet and work on just about anything and offers writers a quiet space to conduct research," he said.

Jacob Blumner

He added that the Rough Draft Cafe serves as a dual outlet for students and residents alike. 

"Staff members will have the opportunity to assist with a wider array of projects than what they typically see in the Writing Center, such as grant proposals, business plans, family histories, and college entrance essays, which in turn helps residents achieve their goals like getting a job or being accepted to college," said Blumner. 

Another benefit of the partnership is being able to contribute to Flint's strong literary arts community. 

"There are many writing groups in the greater Flint area," said Blumner. "We plan to be another point of contact for those who want help writing anything from a haiku to a novel."

Blumner and his staff are continually looking to expand the Writing Center's offerings, such as a more robust lineup of workshops and online tutoring. They will also be working with Emily Feuerherm, Teaching English to Speakers of Languages program director and associate professor of English, this winter to support those learning English as a second language. 

Visit the Writing Center's webpage for more information about the Rough Draft Café.

Madeline Campbell is the communications specialist for the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].