Writing and harvest are seemingly unrelated terms.
But the Colorado State University Creative Writing Series 2017 Writer’s Harvest was a veritable feast for writers and community.
On Thursday night, members of the English faculty read to a packed audience in the Longs Peak Room at the Lory Student Center. Faculty read from a myriad of genres, ranging from poetry to creative non-fiction, following an introduction from Creative Writing Series director and poetry professor Camille Dungy. Dungy also read at the event.
Poetry professor Matthew Cooperman read a poem entitled “Gun Ode,” a dark reminder of gun violence and obsessions with weapons.
“Everything reminds me of threat,” Cooperman lamented, also noting that we should “dismantle the gun figure.”
Cooperman’s poem delivered a blow to guns.
“I can’t think of one happy memory associated with guns,” Cooperman said.
On a humorous note, fiction professor Judy Doenges read a short story about a young sex-obsessed man in an abnormal psychology class.
Poetry professor Sasha Steensen also read a series of poems, including some she had written the day of the reading. Steensen’s poems had a distinctively environmental focus.
“I am writing through Rachel Carson’s work,” Steensen said.
In addition a volunteer coordinator, Mary Ellen Sanger, and two interns were present from the Community Literacy Center’s SpeakOut! writing program.
The interns, Zoe Albrecht and Kelly Kuhn, read a series of student-written poems, including one haunting piece entitled “Why I Write.” The program holds writing workshops with prisoners at the Larimer County Jail and residents of Community Corrections, in addition to two youth rehabilitation houses in Fort Collins.
There were also several nonfiction readings from nonfiction professors Debby Thompson and Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, among other offerings.
The reading also doubled as a food drive, with audience members bringing nonperishable food items. All items were donated to the Larimer County Foodbank. Participants were eligible to enter a raffle. Prizes ranged from vouchers for shows at the University Center for the Arts to a stack of literary offerings from Old Firehouse Books. Prizes were announced intermittently between readings.
Students said they were strongly impacted by the reading.
“I liked getting a sampler of everybody,” said Kelly Weber, a second-year poet in CSU’s Master of Fine Arts program. Weber noted that MFA students are generally focused on their own work. This was a refreshing change, Weber said.
“It is great to hear what they are writing professionally,” Weber said. Weber also said it was fun to see how genres of writing “play off each other.”
“I love hearing them out loud,” Weber said.
Weber also said the faculty have offered the gifts of their “beautiful words” to the program and to the university.
“They bring so much experience honestly,” Weber said.
But their impact extends beyond the campus.
“They really enrich the art scene,” Weber said.
Katherine Indermaur, a second-year poet in the MFA program, agreed.
“There was a real sense of people trying to write out into the reader and towards the world,” Indermaur said. .
Indermaur said Matthew Cooperman’s gun poem and Sasha Steensen’s environmentally-centered poems embodied this credo.
Indermaur also said that the readings helped her broaden her appreciation for other genres of writing. In particular, Indermaur said she liked Harrison Candelaria Fletcher’s lyric essay.
“It gets me excited about the lyric essay,” Indermaur said. Indermaur also said that the readings offered a sampling of “what there is to be read.”
Geneva McCarthy, a first-year poet in the MFA program, admires the faculty’s spirit of giving. She has also attended many such readings in the past.
“I appreciated their generosity as a student and a community member,” McCarthy said. “Even before I came to CSU, I would go to them.”
McCarthy said such readings have helped her become attuned to language.
“I love the sound of language,” McCarthy said. “I am a sonic poet.”
McCarthy is also a nonfiction devotee, calling it her “first love.” Going to past campus readings motivated McCarthy to apply to Colorado State.
McCarthy enjoyed Judy Doenges’ story at the Harvest Festival.
“I had not heard Judy Doenges read,” McCarthy said. “Her story was engaging. I liked the humor.”
Creative Writing Series, Thesis Readings
Where: Room 101, Visual Arts Building, CSU
When: Thursday Nov 30, 7:30 pm.
Collegian reporter Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @dudesosad