Creative Writing Reading Series promotes MFA students

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Books (Photo credit: henry…)

Tonight, join MFA creative writing students as they present work from their thesis writings as part of the English department’s Creative Writing Reading Series.

The reading will include poetry and prose from CSU graduate students that span a wide range of topics, including beer making in the 1800s, reflections on SXSW and the High Park Fire.

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Graduate creative writing student Derek Askey will be reading the first chapter of his novel-length manuscript about a brewery in 1876, which was his thesis.

“The manuscript is set in Pittsburgh, PA, which is where I’m from. It’s a place that has endlessly fascinated me, a place I miss dearly. Much of the composition of the manuscript stems from that love I have for my home city,” Askey wrote in an email to the Collegian.

Leslee Becker, the director for the series and a CSU English professor, described Askey’s thesis as something that she was “blown away” by.

“Not only is Derek Askey in good company with his fellow MFA readers, he’s reading to an audience that acclaimed writers rave about, many of them saying that it was the best audience ever,” Becker wrote in an email to the Collegian.

Graduate creative writing student and assistant to the director for the series, Kaelyn Riley, encourages students from any major to hear these readings.

“CSU has so many excellent science-based programs that it often escapes the attention of undergraduates that the English department is home to one of the most respected creative writing MFA programs in the country,” she wrote. “These readings offer CSU students the chance to hear some of the most finely developed writing emerging from our program.”

Becker agreed, adding that listeners can come from anywhere and wanting to be listened to is a universal concept.

“The Reading Series extends way beyond English majors. I often hear students tell me on campus and downtown that they are not English majors, but have enjoyed attending the readings,” Becker wrote. “We all want people to listen to us, don’t we? Our stories, poems, and essays are some of the ways that we do this. Listeners are affected. Tolstoy said that the whole business of art was to transfer emotion from one human being to another.”

Graduate creative writing student Mickey Kenny will be reading a piece from his thesis entitled “Harm Harness Harmony.” The piece captures Kenny’s experience volunteering for the Iditarod in Alaska.

“My work is very sonic in nature. With this thesis, I have focused on underlying forms and structures that will hopefully create a harmonious experience in the subconscious without being acknowledged within the conscious itself,” Kenny wrote in an email to the Collegian.

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Kenny said that his poetry came from an interest in hip-hop music but expanded into, not what language gives us, but how language is presented to an audience.

By attending the readings, audience members will not only enjoy some unique entertainment but will also be encouraging the creative writing program at CSU.

“The MFA program at CSU prides itself on its supportive writing community. Maintaining the tradition of these readings is essential, as it offers our program the opportunity to celebrate our graduating students, and the last three years that they’ve dedicated to their writing,” Riley wrote.

The reading is this evening at 7:30 p.m. in the Hatton Gallery in the Visual Arts Building. It is free and open to the public, but seating is available on a first come first serve basis.

Assistant Entertainment Editor Lianna Salva can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.