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Writer Series

@samanthacarrz

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Writing is a universal way in which we, the human race, attempt to uncover the basis of the human condition. Humans write to build emotional bridges, craft art and reveal inner truths to share with the world. Nothing exemplifies this need to write more than the annual writing series.

On Sept. 18, The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series let students into the world of writing. Sasha West, poet and assistant professor at St. Edward’s University, led Pulitzer Prize finalist, Nathan Englander, into Mabee Ballroom where students and faculty awaited. While sipping on his dark iced coffee, Englander spoke about his latest book, “Dinner at the Center of the Earth,” and gave advice on the craft of writing. It was the kind of intimacy West was looking for– a perfect balance between good reading and conversation.

The goal of the Visiting Writers Series, sponsored by the School of Arts and Humanities, is to get students to interact with award-winning writers about their writing. The school brings in two new writers each semester, many of whom are novelists, poets and playwrights who offer something different in terms of aesthetics, issues, and genre.

“It’s a way for us to liven the conversation on campus,” West said, who is running the series for her first time this year. “For our majors, it’s a way of helping them see themselves in a career, to get advice from people who are teaching MFA programs on what to do with their writing.”

During Englander’s one-on-one time with the crowd of students, he gave what he called pro tips, such as the importance of prioritizing time and where to look when you lack creativity. These sorts of discussions are likely to intrigue aspiring writers who can apply his advice to their own lives. Yet, how does a student outside of the School of Humanities become engaged? How does a business or science major find relevance within a room full of writers? Just what is it about the series that makes it important for everyone on campus?

According to West, it all comes back to the St. Edward’s mission: the dignity of the human being and responsibility of moving on with the world.

For West, writing is a form of art and a way into people’s lives. It’s a way of reaching out into the larger world and bringing up certain issues other forms of art can’t. The Visiting Writers Series isn’t just about connecting with writing majors. It’s about bringing diversity and opening up a different perspective on issues or topics that are important to everyone. West describes it as “see[ing] something we wouldn’t otherwise see” on campus; a way to spark “an unnatural conversation.”

One of the things that West focuses on are the ways in which stories change us, and allow us to grow as people.

“When we get to hear a story, we may have a realization of some aspect in human experience we couldn’t have as deeply somewhere else.” West said. “It changes who we are to each other, how curious we are, and how we recognize our commonalities and differences.”

Englander was just the first out of five writers for this year’s series. The next visiting writer will be Natalie Diaz on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. in Carter Auditorium.

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