By Ariana Manos
Volume 67, No. 7
Every semester brings a new, diverse collection of authors from across the country to Malone’s campus. This fall, three authors, Beth Ann Fennelly, Meghan O’Gieblyn, and Sarah Kay, visited for Malone’s annual Writers Series. The authors read their pieces during the individual writers’ events, answer students’ questions and share their own unique writing techniques through masterclasses.
Students that are part of the English department attend these events as part of a class required for their curriculum. Students study and reflect each author’s unique writing style.
“While I’ve been inspired by every writer that has visited Malone, Beth Ann Fennelly’s visit to Malone was a fundamental experience for me,” Lucas Clark, a senior English and creative writing double major, said. “I read Fennelly’s ‘Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro Memoirs’ at a perfect time in my life where I was learning to write in condensed forms.”
“I find her work to be an inspiring example of how poetry can be found in prose, and I study her work to improve the conciseness of my own prose poems,” Clark said.
During her reading, Fennelly shared short prose pieces. Included were works from her recent memoir collection, as well as some unpublished pieces. Her reading was the earliest of this semester’s three Writers Series events and was held outdoors in the Hoover Courtyard.
“I really liked the atmosphere of the Beth Ann Fennelly [event],” Jenna Beakas, senior biochemistry major, said. “I liked the outdoor atmosphere with the lights.”
“Beth Ann Fennelly’s readings influenced me,” Beakas said. “I felt an interest in writing and expressing myself artistically through writing. I would encourage people who haven’t attended an event before to at least try one out; they can awaken an interest in writing that maybe you didn’t even know you had before.”
Fennelly is an English professor at the University of Mississippi and boasts a wide range of published works, from poetry books to a novel as well as the collection of micro memoirs. Since 2002, she has published “Open House,” “Tender Hooks,” “Unmentionables,” “Great with Child,” “The Tilted World,” and “Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs.”
“The Writers Series is a focal point of the experience provided to majors in English and creative writing,” Dr. Cherie Parsons, professor of English, said. “It’s also open to all students at Malone, and all are invited to attend the afternoon masterclasses as well as the evening readings.”
“A school of Malone’s size doesn’t often have this type of continued opportunity for engagement with professional writers,” Parsons said. “We are grateful for the continued support of the University, specifically Provost Dr. Greg Miller. The English department is proud of the Writers Series and the way it contributes to the thriving of our students as writers and creatives.”
A blurb about the authors, as well as the location and time at which the events are held, are posted on fliers throughout campus on bulletin boards. Additional information can be found by reaching out to students and staff involved in the English department.
“The draw of the Writer Series events is the opportunity to experience a contemporary author share their work and understanding of the world,” Clark said. “It’s a different way for students to interact with reading and writing through being able to interact with an author on-stage.”
“It’s a very different experience to hear how an author reads their own work,” Clark said. “The Writers Series events allow students to hear how each author approaches rhythm, tone, and mood in their work.”
“The events have honestly allowed me to have more of a variety in the books that I read since I’ve been able to experience authors I’ve never heard of before,” Clark said. “I love that the Writers Series event hosts diverse authors who bring idiosyncratic voices and testaments to the beauty in their lives.”
Each author from this year’s Writers Series brought a unique style and message with their readings. O’Gieblyn’s preferred medium is essays. Exploration is a theme in both of her published collections: “Interior States: Essays” and “God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning.”
From New York City, Kay founded Project VOICE, a group dedicated to empowering individuals through language. She has four books of poetry published: “B,” “The Type,” “All Our Wild Wonder,” and “No Matter the Wreckage.”
“If you haven’t attended an event, you should come to one next semester,” Clark said. “Come with an open mind, and maybe you’ll discover something new about yourself or the world. If you have attended, you should invite some friends to bring with you next time.”
Though all of the Writers Series events for the fall 2021 semester have passed, the Writers Series tradition will continue into coming semesters, and the English department invites and welcomes any student interested to attend!