Calliope, WVU’s undergraduate lit mag, launched their 2017 issue with a reading in a packed Colson 130. Editor-in-Chief Mitchell Glazier welcomed contributors, faculty, family, and friends before handing things off to the readers.
First were the poets, who read of the unspeakable, of Mother’s shoes, of a hairdresser’s compliment, of paint on walls and paint on fingernails, and much more.
Next came three prose readers, all immersing the audience in vastly different worlds: a supermarket where a young woman hands out samples to customers who struggle to understand what a chicken patty is…a couple’s boat ride out on the open sea…and an unexplored planet covered in water, which, as we know, means life is not far behind.
After the reading, contributors and guests stayed and mingled to congratulate each other, discuss their favorite lines and pieces from the evening, and, of course, eat cookies.
And congratulations to the editors for putting together this beautiful issue!
When introducing Claire Beams at her reading on Monday, April 10th, Professor Glenn Taylor described her book, We Show What We Have Learned, as timely and timeless. That is exactly how her reading and subsequent Q&A session felt that evening.
Beams read the title story of her debut collection, which was a finalist for the 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award for Debut Fiction and the winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award from the New York Public Library. She described the collection as one about transformation, about changing others and yourself.
The story Beams read centered around a teacher who literally begins to fall apart in front of her students. A high school English teacher for six years, Beams later reflected on the ways in which her time in the classroom has impacted her writing. She noted that her students are often surprised when they read her work to see a different side of the teacher they know.
During the Q&A, Beams answered thoughtfully about questions related to writing process. The title story of her collection came from the space between dreaming and being awake, she said. She believes writing often comes from an unconscious part of the brain. It took her time to find her voice and to find the kinds of stories she enjoys writing, and the fun she had penning the collection was certainly reflected in the stories themselves as well as the reactions of the audience during the reading.
Beams concluded by emphasizing the freedom with which one should approach writing. She reminded the audience of the possibilities one encounters when writing: “When you start a story it can be anything.”
Claire Beams’ fiction appears in One Story, n+1, Ecotone, The Common, The Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She currently blogs for Ploughshares and teaches creative writing at Saint Vincent College and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.
On Wednesday, April 19th, students and faculty gathered to celebrate their accomplishments over the past year. The annual luncheon celebrates those who have won Department of English Awards for their writing, teaching, and service to the department.
We extend a warm congratulations to our MFA students who won First Place and Honorable Mention for the Russ MacDonald Creative Writing Award:
FICTION DIVSION Thomas Martin “The Snail” Instructor: Glenn Taylor
Honorable Mention: Andrea Ruggirello “What’s Vital” Instructor: Glenn Taylor
NONFICTION DIVISION Whit Arnold “Year of the Soil Nymph” Instructor: Kevin Oderman
POETRY DIVISION Sarah Munroe Various Poems Instructors: Jim Harms and Mary Ann Samyn
Honorable Mention: Bryce Berkowitz Various Poems Instructors: Jim Harms and Mary Ann Samyn
The judges were Amy Alvarez and Geoffrey Hilsabeck. The award was established in 1991 to honor Russ MacDonald upon his retirement. Prizes for these awards come from the James Paul Brawner Endowed Writing Award fund.
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