Fall 2017 Reading Series participants announced

By Molly Walsh, Campus Reporter

Josh Corson, senior English and creative writing major, said he used to feel pressure to produce the next great piece of literature, but he has learned that writing is more about expression from Columbia’s Reading Series.

The English and Creative Writing Department’s Fall 2017 Reading Series connects students and faculty with esteemed writers from around the country throughout the semester.

Introduced in 2015, every session begins with students reading their work, followed by a guest writer and closing with a Q&A with the audience, according to a Sept. 12 pressrelease from the college’s News Office. Corson was selected as one of the opening readers for the Oct. 10 session, which will feature Camille T. Dungy, author and English professor at Colorado State University, and Sharon Solwitz, author and fiction writing professor at Purdue University. Corson said he will be reading two poems he wrote last semester for his thesis project that express his grief overlosing friends to substance abuse.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity to get your work out there and to read alongside a poet who is well- established,” Corson said. “[To] see your work in that context builds confidence, and it’s really cool to share in that experience.”

Joe Meno, Reading Series coordinator and professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, said the program was started to showcase diverse and notable writers working with multiple genres.

The series’ first session will begin on Sept. 27 with acclaimed novelist Mary Gaitskill, on the second floor of 618 S. Michigan Ave., and continues until Nov. 9 at this location and 623 S. Wabash Ave.

“It’s engaging, participatory and accessible,” Meno said. “You don’t have to have a background in creative writing to feel like you’re part of the conversation.”

Ayla Maisey, junior English and creative writing major, was selected to read some of her nonfiction personal essays at the Oct. 23 session. She said it will feature poet David Trinidad—a professor in the English and Creative Writing Department who has published multiple poetry books—and flash fiction author Desiree Cooper—a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and creator of a flash fiction collection titled “Know the Mother.”

“[The Reading Series] is a part of the literary conversation that we are participating in,” Maisey said. “It’s always interesting to see the voices that are brought in.”

Columbia approaches creative writing as a process and encourages any students interested to engage and experiment, Meno said.

“What makes the Reading Series in creative writing at Columbia so unique is that it is very much a conversation,” Meno said. “There’s writing dealing with humor, race, class and questions about the world. It’s very lively.”