Volume 96, Issue 68
Thursday, January 30, 2003

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Werd up: Western's literary geniuses get online

By Maggie Wrobel
Gazette Staff

FUNKY TOWN (June 2002). The work of fourth-year art history student Rachelle Dickenson, including this sexy piece, is available for viewing on the Werd Web site.

Despite the fact that it's full of junk all too often, the Internet sometimes turns out to be home to some pretty cool sites, and one of them was born right here at Western.

Werd magazine (www.usc.uwo.ca/werd) is a literary online journal offering original writing, artwork, films and music created by local artists, many of whom are Western students.

Werd is the brainchild of third-year English student Adam Hammond, who recalls that he got the idea for the site while he was studying abroad in his first year.

"When I was studying in England during first-year, I got involved in [something similar to Werd] and when I got back to Western, I started looking for an arts journal, and couldn't find one anywhere."

Thus, he lobbied the University Students' Council for some Web space and created Werd. After one "trial" issue last year, the site is back this year with an all-new design, but the mandate remains the same: to offer Western students and members of the London community an opportunity to have their creative efforts presented to a world-wide audience via the Internet.

Hammond admits that, although he initially created Werd partly as a way to display his own writing, it has now become one of his goals to "disappear into the magazine," and have it simply be a platform for the work of other talented artists.

Third-year English student Meagan Timney shares Hammond's passion for bringing the work of talented, yet unknown, artists into the public eye. Timney acts as the site's writing editor and says Werd is a welcome and necessary addition to Western's arts community.

"Too often, the most talented writers and artists get lost in the hustle and bustle of a 25,000 student school," Timney says. "Werd is a way to showcase artists who may be too shy to display their work in a real-life setting. The Internet is the perfect medium because of its availability. In this age of science and technology, it's important to celebrate artistic and creative endeavours."

The simple, yet classy, site is currently home to writing, films, photos, drawings and musical recordings by students from Western and people within the London community.

The layout of the site is impressive, as each piece of writing has been designed to look as though the writer has his or her own book. Hammond recalls that "readability" was a concern when laying out the site, as "one of the great challenges of running an online arts journal is the potentially dreadful experience of reading long bits of text online." Thus, he made the pages look like real books, which makes them both pleasant to look at, as well as easier to read.

Fourth-year art history student Rachelle Dickenson, whose drawings and paintings are displayed on the site, says the site is an important development because "it enhances a desperately needed sense of community in [Western's] arts department" and allows students a certain amount of anonymity, if they happen to be shy about displaying their work.

The second issue of Werd is presently online, and Hammond says submissions are welcome for the third, which is planned for this April. Interested students should e-mail Hammond at usc.werd@uwo.ca, or simply check out the site at www.usc.uwo.ca/werd for a glimpse at the hidden talent lurking in and around Western.


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