Writers’ Den Profile: Larry Evans

With the start of November comes the advent of the Writers’ Den. This coffee shop style room inside the school is hoped to be a place for students to work on creative writing. Though it’s still a work in progress, the Writers’ Den finally has chosen the first Tufts student to oversee it. Larry Evans was welcomed warmly to MHS in October.

Evans is 22, born in Boise, Idaho. He came to Tufts University to major in English and Writing, though originally he intended to major in engineering because he was proficient in both math and physics. He explains that his reason for majoring in writing is that “in high school… [he] always had this intense internal desire to write” both creatively, and formally, and that he thought he’d reap more happiness as having it for a profession.

The reason for the switch he explains, is that in the past his parents didn’t encourage him very much to take on writing as a profession. He explained that “[His] dad is a civil and mechanical engineer, [and his] mother is an oncologist so [he] didn’t really get much support from them.” They wanted him to take on a more financially secure study, and he understands the concern. However, he decided that writing was not just a hobby to him.

Due to the lack of support Evans is extremely set on encouraging other students at Malden High to write creatively, and go after their dreams. “[He hopes] to inspire students to write creatively and follow the things that they want to do, like [he is] trying to do. If [he] had the support in that field in high school [he] would have been much more driven to research colleges and try to follow [his dreams] rather than be economically infallible.” There might be students that have dreams that their parents don’t encourage, or even know about because they’re afraid of what they might think. Evans wants to create an environment for them to express themselves and practice what they love, despite the world telling them not to.

Evans also wants to expose the benefits of writing to students. It is his belief that “reading and writing both have that sense of understanding other people that other fields tend not to care about” or focus on. He explains that if he is able to change the way students write, and by extension, think, he will be able to improve a student’s life. “[Evans wants] to bring [empathy] to students and make [himself] more empathetic too,”  especially to those whose interests are centered around math and science, and may not have the social outreach to practice empathy that students whose interests are in english may have.

He states that he’s excited to meet students from a younger generation that will soon be in the same position he is in of going to college and exiting the high school lifestyle. “Specifically for Malden, it’s really nice to see a more eclectic mix of student body and faculty than [his] very homogeneous Idaho background.” The high school is very racially diverse, and Evans is excited to interact with the different cultures and backgrounds and bring them together to collaborate harmoniously.

In the Writers’ Den Evans will be a guide to the students and faculty that will take advantage of the room. It is his belief that “the best way to guide students is to let them guide themselves.” meaning that in the den he will be there to help you with ideas, and expression though he won’t act like a teacher, with a lesson plan every day. “Workshopping is the best way to really understand how many different sides there are to making a piece of writing, so [he thinks] the best way [he] can guide students is by not guiding them at all and act as a facilitator.” He doesn’t want students to think that he is in charge. Evans aims for students to work on themselves, and have everyone collaborate, read each others’ work, and exchange ideas.

Sean Walsh, being the person to instigate the Writers’ Den’s opening explained why he was pleased with Tufts’ choice of Evans to come to MHS. “[Walsh] thought he was incredibly enthusiastic, and incredibly mature… [Evans] demonstrated skills and talents to really work well with students and throw himself into this kind of position [or] this kind of role.” It’s his belief that Evans will be a good addition to the school. The Writers’ Den is meant to be the place for all students, and Evans will be able to curate to everyone’s artistic and creative needs.

The widely known Play Production is one of Walsh’s other projects, where he is co-director with Miranda Libkin. He explains that his role in Play Pro isn’t very important in terms of creating the work, because the the students are the ones that are mostly in charge. Since he expects Evans will be in a similar position in the Writers’ Den, and he laments how fine the line between editing a person’s work and editing a person’s creative ideas are. “Too much fixing and it loses the student’s [voice], and it’s a difficult balance” Walsh explains. Thus his only advice to Evans, from one facilitator to another, is to “listen to the student, ask a lot of questions, provide students a lot of options to explore their work, [and] really make [the Den] a safe space so they can feel comfortable taking appropriate risks.”

Until the day that the Writers’ Den does open, Evans can be found at the high school most days. For the past three weeks he has been in classrooms getting to know students and faculty. Creative writing is an art that need to be cultivated to all students, and Evans has taken on the responsibility to administer ideas and support to those who seek it.

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