image by Jill Salahub

image by Jill Salahub

The sun is shining on Eddy Hall this Friday afternoon, and there are many other good things to celebrate as well. Such as,

  • Dan Beachy-Quick will be presenting the Wittreich Lecture at University of Louisville. He’ll be reading an essay titled: “Poetic Geometries: Moby-Dick as Primer to Creative Crisis.” There’s a review of his book on John Keats up at The Philadelphia Review of Books: http://philadelphiareviewofbooks.com/2014/03/24/so-fair-a-form/ And a small collection of his poems from FREE POETRY is just out, titled Drone & Other Poems.
  • John Calderazzo and SueEllen Campbell are giving the Atmospheric Science Department Colloquium on March 29, on the topic of “Talking to Non-Scientists.”
  • SueEllen Campbell took part in a roundtable/workshop in Dallas this week with faculty and professionals in the fabric, textiles, and clothing industry, helping (as a climate change and sustainability educator) with a USDA-funded curriculum project for students in these fields.
  • The North American Review has invited Steven Schwartz to deliver the fiction keynote address at their bicentennial conference in June 2015.
  • Leif Sorensen presented a paper “Sounds of the Post-Dictatorial City: Punk Mappings of Buenos Aires, Montevideo and São Paulo” in a seminar “Punk and the City” at the 2014 meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association in New York City on March 21.
  • Wastershed Review has accepted three of Jerrod Bohn’s poems for publication.
  • Kristin George Bagdanov’s poem “Exchange Body” was given an honorable mention in the 2014 AWP Intro Journals Project competition. Her paper proposal “The Anthropocenic Lyric” was accepted for the 2015 MLA panel, “Anthropocene and Deep Time in Literary Studies,” which is co-sponsored by the divisions of 20th-Century American Literature and Literature and Science.
  • Samantha Iacovetto will be an MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at The Ohio State University. She will be attending on a fellowship.
  • Karen Montgomery Moore presented her paper “The Unrealized Potential of Metaphor in Relation to Cancer” this weekend at the “Undoing Health: States of Body and Mind” graduate student interdisciplinary conference at Indiana University-Bloomington. Grateful thanks to Debby Thompson and Katie Adkison for their critical feedback on this work.
  • Tanya Mykhaylychenko (MA in Literature, Summer 2009) has been, since graduating, an OWL tutor for a major publishing and education company, a full-time proposal writer for a small IT staffing agency, and is currently a freelance writing consultant. Following her long-time interest in film theory and history, she was recently admitted to a graduate program in film studies at Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University (Montreal) and awarded a two-year fellowship.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Marcelle Haddix from Syracuse University was the third presenter in the department’s speaker series, “the Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life.” Haddix’s presentation was titled  “Are You Still Helping That Community?”: Toward a Publicly Engaged Teacher Education and a Focus on Community/ies, and described this way,

Working from a scholarship-in-action, community engaged framework, Marcelle Haddix will discuss ways that notions of community/ies and public engagement are defined and taken up in English and literacy teacher education. Her talk will feature examples from two areas of scholarship. The first area involves a study of the ways students of color navigate the multiple discourse communities they inhabit as preservice teachers and their construction of teacher identities in the current climate of teacher preparation programs. Specifically, Marcelle will highlight the ways that teacher candidates of color define public engagement and what it means for them to work with/in urban schools and communities. The second examines the experiences of secondary English and literacy preservice teachers enrolled in a Teaching Writing Course where students coordinate and facilitate a community writing event for local middle and high school students. In looking across both areas, her talk will articulate new directions for encouraging community building and public engagement in English and literacy teacher education.

Marcelle Haddix’s faculty page on the Syracuse University website says this about her,

Marcelle Haddix completed her PhD in Education with an emphasis in Literacy, Language, and Learning at Boston College. Her background includes work as a secondary English language arts teacher, college administrator, composition instructor, and teacher educator. Professor Haddix is a critical English Educator who focuses on how to best prepare all teachers for working in culturally and linguistically diverse settings. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy and English education. Haddix also directs the “Writing Our Lives” project, a program geared toward supporting the writing practices of urban youth within and beyond school contexts. A highlight of this project is the annual Youth Writing Conference that brings together middle and high school students, teachers, university faculty, and community members.

Haddix’s scholarly interests center on addressing the literacy achievement gap that persists for children of color, particularly among African American boys. Her work is featured in Research in the Teaching of English, Language and Education, and Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and she is a frequent presenter at annual meetings for the National Council of Teachers of English and the American Educational Research Association. She was most recently selected by the Standing Committee on Research of the National Council of Teachers of English to receive the 2010 Promising Researcher in English Education Award.

Here’s a video of Marcelle Haddix’s presentation. Antero Garcia had this to say about it, “Marcelle Haddix’s presentation as part of the ongoing Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life series was thrilling. A recent graduate, currently teaching in a local school told me this was the talk she ‘needed’ to hear. Likewise, many attendees (both in-person and via email afterwards) shared that they were invigorated and renewed by Dr. Haddix’s frank discussion of the needs of preservice teachers of color, the challenges with wanting to ‘help’ a community, and the possibilities that unfold (to lift a phrase from one of her research participants) when we shift our stances as teachers and teacher educators.”

English Department Communications Intern Brianna Wilkins attended the presentation, and has this to share:

Tuesday March 3, 2013, marked the third speaker series of the semester. We were graced by the presence of Marcelle Haddix, Assistant Professor at the School of Education, at Syracuse University. Before she spoke on her topic for the night, she mentioned that she and Antero Garcia share a lot in common; primarily their love of pop culture, focusing on topics such as their love for television and reality shows. It was nice to see that educators too have their guilty pleasures, and as the audience shared the laughter between Haddix and Garcia, the ice was immediately broken. Early that day, Haddix received the opportunity to visit Pam Coke’s research methods class. She said that she really enjoyed what she witnessed; she then joked that after visiting such a great class, she had great expectations of the audience as we listened and divulged in conversation about the theme of being a publicly engaged educator, and being an active part of the community you that you work with.

From numerous conversations that Haddix has had with prospective educators, it was clear that lot of them are only a part of the community they taught during work hours, but once they clocked out, they go back to living their own separate lives. She focused on the notion that teaching and learning is not relegated to the confines of a of the K – 12 classroom, where teachers are positioned as depositors of knowledge, and funds of knowledge that young people bring to school from their homes and communities are neglected. She insisted that in order for students to better connect with what they’re learning, a relationship of familiarity must be established with both the students, and their teacher.

Having experienced being the only black student in many of her classes back in the 80s and 90s she mentioned that unfortunately not too much has changed since then, primarily in higher education. In conversations that she’s had with students of color, they express that they feel as if they don’t fit in with the majority, and they tend to shy away from the crowd, which diminishes their opportunity to succeed. Her discussion opened the eyes of many, showing that race can become a barrier in the classroom, which leads to unintentional segregation between students and possibly even teachers. We were given ideas that helped us understand that that as a community both parties are helping and learning from each other, and how we should all work to create an environment that is accepting of another; an environment where everyone is comfortable enough to be themselves, and grow together as a community.

~Brianna Wilkins

More about this series: Throughout the spring semester the department will host nationally recognized literacies-based researchers and educators to discuss how literacy and youth civic participation intersect from varying, interdisciplinary perspectives. The speakers will be presenting their work and engaging in dialogue from 5:30-6:30, followed by a brief reception. These events are free and open to the public. All of the speakers will be presenting at the CSU campus in Clark A 205.

Tags: , ,

Antero Garcia is an Assistant Professor in the English department at Colorado State University. Antero’s research focuses on developing critical literacies and civic identity through the use of mobile media and game play in formal learning environments. Prior to moving to Colorado, Antero was a teacher at a public high school in South Central Los Angeles. Antero received his Ph.D. in the Urban Schooling division of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles,

antero02

In 2008 Antero co-developed the Black Cloud Game. A Digital Media and Learning Competition award recipient, the Black Cloud provoked students to take real time assessment of air quality in their community. Using custom-developed sensors that measure and send data about air quality, students critically analyzed the role pollution played in their daily lives and presented recommendations to their community.

Antero is a 2010-2011 U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow, providing teacher input and feedback on national education policy initiatives.

Antero’s numerous publications and conference presentations address technology, educational equity, youth participatory action research, and critical media literacy. Updates about Antero’s work can be found on his blog, The American Crawl.


Faculty Profile: Antero Garcia
~by Brianna Wilkins

Antero Garcia hasn’t taught at CSU for long, but he’s definitely made an impact on the English department. With his quirky sense of humor, and down to earth personality, I forgot that I was talking to a professor and felt as if I were having a regular conversation with one of my peers. From discussing his thoughts about academia, to us both professing our disdain for the cold weather, I was able to find out some interesting things that you might not know about Professor Garcia.

antero03

What brought you to CSU?

I honestly came to CSU because it seemed like such a great place to work. I feel like there is such a familial atmosphere in the department. Being in the English department is exciting is because the person next door is an amazing poet, and across from me is an amazing nonfictional environmental writer; as a result I really like this kind of space.

What inspired you to pursue a degree in English?

What I like about literature is being able to engage and talk to people about it, and being able to build something as a community, and I think that’s what made me want to become a teacher.

Who has had the greatest influence on you?

Probably Whitney Houston [laughs]. I’m just playing, but could you still put that in there; she did believe that the children were our future [laughs again], but it would probably have to be my parents. My mom was an English teacher, and I really resisted becoming an English teacher because she was one. My father was an educator and a musician as well; a lot of the work I do is inspired by him, and I do it in his honor.

What special projects are you working on right now?

I recently just finished editing an EBook that’s coming out in March; it looks at how we’re transforming the possibilities of what happens in classroom spaces. Other CSU professors and student have contributed parts to it as well. I’m also currently researching and looking at role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Once a week I go play Dungeons & Dragons, and at first it was really fun, but some days it feels more like work since I have to take notes on it all of the time.

antero

What has been your favorite class to teach at CSU?

I taught four different classes, but the class I’ve had most fun with is the Composition 301B, which is the writing in the disciplines for education. It consists of all English education students doing different types of writing concerning education practices. I think it’s a fun class because of the possibilities we create of what we can do with different genres of writing.

What do you do during your free time?

I like to go to concerts and I like music a lot; I’m actually a huge Kanye West fan. When I’m not teaching I’m in charge of taking care of my dog; we go on long walks, and she loves chasing down rabbits.

What’s been your favorite classroom memory here at CSU?

My first semester teaching here, students from my Comp 301 class dressed up like me for Halloween. All of the students were late, and I was sad because I thought no one was going to come to class because it was Halloween. A few minutes later the students suddenly came in together and were dressed in ties and golfer hats; it was pretty cool.

Tags: , ,

danielgeorge

What’s your major?: English with a concentration in Creative Writing and Literature.

Favorite moment in Eddy Hall?: I’ve had fun times at the computer lab because I used to be in there at least three hours a day last semester and I got to socialize with all of the other English majors, but I don’t have any breaks between classes this semester so I’m kind of bummed.

Favorite English class or teacher?: Either Dan Robinson or David Milofsky. Dan was really enthusiastic about his subject, and David was more of a human in conversation rather than just a professor so I found him easy to relate to.

What is your favorite work of writing?: A short story called “Helix” by Banana Yoshimoto because the prose is very beautiful and I fell in love with the poetry of the words.

If you were to give advice to incoming CSU English majors, what would it be?: Get to know your professors well, because they love to help.

What are you currently reading?: A lot of literature about the Dust Bowl. Whatever man, I enjoy it.

Please note: this edition of Humans of Eddy was originally published on the English Department’s Facebook page on February 25, 2014. Read more about this series.

Tags: , ,

The second presentation as part of the CSU Department of English speaker series, “the Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life,” was given by Mark Gomez, Patricia Hanson, and Katie Rainge-Briggs. They co-founded the Schools for Community Action in South Central Los Angeles and are all current classroom teachers. Their talk, “Schools for Community Action: Addressing the Lived Realities of Inner-City Youth,” covered their classroom strategies and integrated school design model.

Antero Garcia had this to say about the presentation, “we had an awesome turnout at our second event as part of the Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life speaker series at CSU. Mark Gomez, Patricia Hanson, and Katie Rainge-Briggs shared their powerful work at the Schools for Community Action. They had an interactive presentation that involved researching issues local to Fort Collins and presenting elevator pitches for sustainable change. The work was engaging and a fun change of pace from the traditional academic mode of presentation. Their presentation can be viewed below (though if you find the small-group activity a bit dizzying, I encourage you to skip to around minute 44 when they do some larger wrap-up in a traditional format).”

Here’s a video of this presentation.

English Department Communications Intern Brianna Wilkins attended the presentation, and has this to share:

The lively sounds coming from inside of Clark A205 were a bit a bit of a shock, as I prepared myself to enter the room of full of educators and students interested in learning about civic literacy. One would think that at 5:30 pm, people would be tired after a long day of school and work, but everyone was as vibrant as ever, anticipating the presenters for the evening. The Speaker Series on February 18, 2014, featured three teachers from Los Angeles, California.

Hanson, Rainge-Briggs and Gomez

Hanson, Rainge-Briggs and Gomez

The teachers who presented are Mark Gomez, Patricia Rainge and Katie Rainge – Briggs, all teach at three different schools that are situated together on one property. Gomez teaches at the Critical Design and Gaming School, also known as DAGS; there the primary focus is on transforming the community. Hanson is a teacher at the Community Health Advocates School, which goes by CHAS for short; there they partner with local organizations such as the St. John’s Clinic, focusing on ways to make the community a better place to live. Rainge – Briggs teaches at the Responsible Indigenous Social Entrepreneurial School, better known as RISE; they focus more on professional development amongst minorities. Students at all three schools are involved in hands on learning activities in their classes, which allow them to work together as a team in a learning environment that encourages them to think outside of the box.

There had to be at least 60 people in attendance on Tuesday, and the majority were students who were eager to learn about the different learning methods that were being presented. They focused on teaching us about civic literacy by focusing on three categories; design & land use, economic development or re-development and community health. Instead of just talking at us the entire time, they came up with a neat group activity that had us interacting with each other. In groups of 4-6 people, we had to search the room for hidden QR codes, and then scan them to see what they were about. From there we went on to discuss the ways in which we could persuade parents, teachers, and community members to get involved with students by using the information that was presented from the QR codes.

It was great to see everyone interact, and come together to brainstorm ideas that could promote the advancement of students, mainly in urban neighborhoods. I know that I enjoyed being active, and meeting different people who are just as excited about as I am about educating the youth; if you feel the same way then you should definitely join the fun. It’s not too late to attend; there are two more speaker series left, one on March 4th, and the other on the 11th. This series will not only engage your mind, but it will allow you to see education and teaching in ways that you’ve never thought possible.

~Brianna Wilkins

More about this series: Throughout the spring semester the department will host nationally recognized literacies-based researchers and educators to discuss how literacy and youth civic participation intersect from varying, interdisciplinary perspectives. The speakers will be presenting their work and engaging in dialogue from 5:30-6:30, followed by a brief reception. These events are free and open to the public. All of the speakers will be presenting at the CSU campus in Clark A 205.

Tags: , , , ,

Edward Hamlin is a Colorado-based writer whose work has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, In Digest, New Dog, and Cobalt, and has been produced theatrically in Chicago and Denver. He has recently completed a novel, Sleeping with Her, that explores dream life and the unconscious in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

His short story, “Night in Erg Chebbi,” won the 2013 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction and was published in the most recent issue of Colorado Review. Hamlin describes the story this way,

The story takes us on a journey into the Moroccan desert as a woman struggles to comes to term with her guilt over mistreating her brother. Along the way we meet up with Zouave guards, desert sheikhs, dying camels, ersatz harem girls, and automatic weapons in decidedly the wrong hands.

Reading with Hamlin was Jim Shepard, who Hamlin describes as “a writer I greatly admire, master storyteller … author of numerous story collections and novels. Jim was the judge who selected my story ‘Night in Erg Chebbi’ as the winner of the 2013 Nelligan Prize.”

English Department Communications Intern Brianna Wilkins attended the reading by Hamlin and Shepard February 6th 2014 in the CSU Art Museum at the University Center for the Arts, and has the following to share:

I think it’s safe to say that Thursday February 6, 2014 was the one of the coldest nights of the year. The air outside literally hurt my face, as I stepped out into the bitter cold night, but it was all worth it in the end after attending Jim Shepard and Ed Hamlin’s reading at the UCA. Despite the below freezing temperatures, the room was filled to capacity with eager faces, waiting on these two phenomenal writers to read excerpts from their latest work. Students eagerly took out their pens and notebook paper to jot down facts about the featured authors; others quietly chatted amongst themselves, excited for the reading.

Each author was presented by an aspiring writer, as sparks of hope flickered through their eyes and was heard in their voice; wishing to become as successful as each of the authors. As the night went on, I myself understood why there was such passion in each presenter’s voice, because Ed Hamlin and Jim Shepard definitely rocked the UCA with their readings.

edhamlin

Edward Hamlin

Ed Hamlin went first, and within the first 30 seconds of him introducing his piece, a melodic tone interrupted him, indicating that someone forgot to be courteous and turn their ringer off. With everyone searching for the inconsiderate person to glare at, Hamlin informed that it was his phone, and that instantly broke the ice as we laughed and became more eager to hear his award winning piece.

Hamlin read his short fiction piece Night in Erg Chebbi, winner of the Colorado Review’s 2013 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. In short, it’s centered on a woman and her husband who took a trip to Morocco, while she was dealing with the aftermath of her brother’s death in Afghanistan seven months prior. This was an emotional piece, and Hamlin’s somber tone had everyone in the room hanging on to his every word, hoping that it wouldn’t end in tragedy. Not one to spoil the story in its entirety, it can be read at http://coloradoreview.colostate.edu/features/night-in-erg-chebbi/. [Audio of this story from the reading is also available, http://www.edwardhamlin.com/audio/Erg_Chebbi_reading_Feb2014.mp3 (31:43)]

jimshepard

Jim Shepard

Coming all the way from the East Coast, Jim Shepard charmed the audience with his wit, making the audience laugh over and over again. He read two excerpts; one from his forthcoming novel, Aaron Only Thinks of Himself, and another from a short piece titled Cretan Love Song, 1600 B.C.. In Aaron Only Thinks of Himself, Shepard’s smooth voice serenaded the crowd as he read about a young boy who’d eventually be an orphan of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. He spoke of his troublesome but good hearted nature, of the loving relationship he had with his mother, and the difficult relationship he shared with his father. Cretan Love Song told of a Minoan tsunami that killed a father and son, and had a poetic feel to it.

Both authors took me on an emotional roller coaster. Throughout the laughs, heavy sighs, and consistent rounds of applause, Hamlin and Shepard together were nothing short of amazing. Despite the frigid weather, the warmth and welcoming presence of the audience, and the passion of each reader was well worth it.

~Brianna Wilkins

Sponsors of the Reading Series include the English Department and Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University, Organization of Graduate Student Writers through ASCSU, College of Liberal Arts, and the Armstrong Hotel. These events are also sponsored by a grant from the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Fund, a premier supporter of arts and culture at CSU. Please help grow this fund with a gift at: http://president.colostate.edu/lillabmorgan/index.aspx.

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information call 970.491.6428 or e-mail mary.ellen.ballard@gmail.com.

Tags: , , ,

Buffy Hamilton spoke on February 11th as part of the English Department’s Speaker Series, “Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life.” The title of her talk was “Metanarratives of Literacy Practices: Libraries as Sponsors of Literacies,” described this way,

How might libraries deconstruct the ideas and power relations that influence the ways they reinforce and distribute specific literacies and literacy practices to better understand their role as sponsors of literacy in their communities in a more nuanced and robust way? By using Deborah Brandt’s concept of sponsors of literacy, libraries can situate and contextualize their work to frame their work as co-learners in a participatory community of learning who can collaboratively construct the possibilities of print, digital, information, and new literacies – rather than being a paternalistic sponsor that deliberately and/or unintentionally marginalizes the experiences and literacy histories of the people libraries serve.

This first presentation was streamed live via Google On Air Hangouts. Buffy Hamilton’s talk “Metanarratives of Literacy Practices: Libraries as Sponsors of Literacies” can be viewed here: http://www.theamericancrawl.com/?p=1341

Antero Garcia had this to say about the presentation, “As I mention in the introduction to this series, I am hoping attendees (and viewers) will consider the dialogue that unfolds across these five different speakers. What intersections can we imagine in the work we do with and for young people across the U.S. today? Kicking off our CSU speaker series this week, Buffy Hamilton’s presentation ‘Metanarratives of Literacy Practices: Libraries as Sponsors of Literacies’ helped us challenge our notions of what’s possible in libraries and how these spaces should be thought of critically as ‘Sponsors of Literacies’ – building off of research by Deborah Brandt. It’s been a true pleasure getting to learn from Buffy (even if it means she’s been stranded in Fort Collins longer than she planned due to an insane season of weather). If you aren’t already reading The Unquiet Librarian, what’s wrong with you?”

English Department Communications Intern Brianna Wilkins attended the presentation, and has this to share:

“Come on in,” she said; a middle aged woman with a southern twang waved at me from inside of the room, and I immediately felt welcome amidst the crowd of unfamiliar faces. Surrounded by nothing but professors and English education majors, I had no clue what to expect from the first Speaker Series of the semester. After about five minutes the speaker was introduced by CSU’s own Professor Antero Garcia; it turned out that the nice lady who greeted me was the speaker for the evening —  Buffy J. Hamilton, a librarian at an Atlanta, Georgia high school who spoke on the topic of libraries as sponsors of literacy.

Hamilton began by using Debra Brandt’s (an English professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) ideas on sponsors of literacy, focusing on how literacy for individuals is related to the economics of literacy. Hamilton mentioned that although many students are able to use their tech savvy gadgets to download apps and be active social media users, a lot of them don’t know how to upload an email attachment. Her main objective was to get the audience to understand that students, elementary through high school, need ways in which they are actually excited to participate in gaining knowledge inside and outside of the classroom.

It was interesting to see all of the activities she used to encourage students grades K – 12th, activities that not only kept their interest but kept them learning as well. One of the neat ideas she presented was YOUmedia; a program for middle school and high school students at some of the Chicago Public Library’s. YOUmedia allows students to have access to thousands of books, laptops and desktop computers, and software programs, which increases their digital media skills. This along with other programs nationwide increase students’ involvement in educational activities that promote learning while having fun doing it.

As I mentioned earlier, there was an abundance of English education majors in attendance, but the information that was given is beneficial to anyone interested in the well-being of our youth’s education.

We were all once children who had the opportunity to go to our school library and gain access to the many resources that it had to offer, but a lot of the school library programs across the country are being cut. It is up to people like us, those who are invested in education, to step up and involve ourselves in promoting fun ways to learn so that more students are likely to engage themselves and succeed in their education.

Buffy Hamilton and Antero Garcia

Buffy Hamilton and Antero Garcia

Hamilton left me with a better understanding of how important the presence of a library is to student’s education, especially when it comes to reading and writing. I left their more knowledgeable than when I came. Plus the cupcakes and fresh fruit that were offered was also nice, and after her talk they were devoured by almost everyone in attendance.

If you’re interested in learning more on the topic, please visit Hamilton’s blog at http://theunquietlibrary.wordpress.com/.

~Brianna Wilkins

More about this series: Throughout the spring semester the department will host nationally recognized literacies-based researchers and educators to discuss how literacy and youth civic participation intersect from varying, interdisciplinary perspectives. The speakers will be presenting their work and engaging in dialogue from 5:30-6:30, followed by a brief reception. These events are free and open to the public. All of the speakers will be presenting at the CSU campus in Clark A 205.

Tags: , , , ,

astridhanson

• Name: Astrid Hanson
• Major: English
• Year: Senior
• Concentration: Creative Writing
• Favorite English Class: E333 – Critical Studies of Popular Texts with Roze Hentschell. “Roze is a great professor. I also liked that we had no exams, we just wrote essays.”
• Currently reading (for leisure): “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami
• Advice to students: “Always read because you’ll fall behind really fast if you don’t.”
• Dream Job: Editor
• Misc:  “The English department is helpful in finding you internships and careers if you’re interested.”

Please note: this edition of Humans of Eddy was originally published on the English Department’s Facebook page on February 6, 2014. Read more about this series.

Tags: , ,

Richard McCann (http://www.richardmccann.net/) writes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. He is the author of Mother of Sorrows, a work of fiction, and Ghost Letters, a collection of poems, as well as other pieces published in collections and various magazines. McCann has received awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. He lives in Washington, D.C., where he is a professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at American University. He is currently working on a memoir, The Resurrectionist, which explores the experience and meanings of illness and mortality through a narrative exploration of his experience as a liver transplant recipient.

English Department Communications Intern Evelyn Vaughn attended a reading McCann gave January 30th 2014 in the CSU Art Museum at the University Center for the Arts, and has the following to share:

Sitting at the Richard McCann reading, I wondered if showing up on this snowy night would be worth it. Really – even as an English major and a passionate student of English, I wondered if I should leave early. It was starting to snow, after all. I had dragged my statistics major roommate along for her car – she was certainly not enthused. And when we left that night, there would be a new three or four inches of the white stuff on her Ford Escape.

Some of the audience at the reading that night

Some of the audience at the reading that night

As Richard McCann was introduced, my roommate joked that McCann’s book of short stories was called Mother of Sorrows – “how uplifting.” As he began to read one of the stories from the book, even he remarked that this was the sort thing he would read to a depressed child. In “The Fairytale” McCann detailed his own mother, who, before her death, had said that a smoker’s cough would always remind him of her. It was to my utter surprise that the line that moved me the most that night would come from this story — “She told me I was her best friend. She said that I had the heart to understand her. She was forty-six. I was nine.”

It was amazing to me that in one night, in one room even, the mood could change from jokes about the reviews McCann received on Goodreads and the knit “Batman costume” behind the podium to a moment of remembrance shared between people. For McCann, remembrance of his mother. For others, maybe, remembrance of their own loved ones. For me, it was remembrance of how literature can bring people together. Even on a snowy night in the middle of winter in Colorado, passionate English students and faculty – even statistics students dragged along for the ride – showed up to hear one man read his work.

Author Richard McCann and the previously mentioned "Batman costume"

Author Richard McCann and the previously mentioned “Batman costume”

And later, it became clear it was not just simply his work to him. It was his heart. As his second story demonstrated, it was all of the things he felt that he could only express through writing. The story “The Resurrection” recounts his experience following a liver transplant he received. A story he wrote, he said, because he “felt this anger and desire to travel down to the places people said were unspeakable.”

As we listened to his self-named “survivor guilt” about his transplant in “The Resurrection,” my roommate and I no longer questioned our decision to show up to the UCA as Colorado dumped snow on Fort Collins. When it was all over, I looked to my right where she was sitting and found her just as rapt as the rest of us. Indeed, the reading series hosted by the English Department is not just place to go because your beginning creative writing class requires you to. It is a place to go to appreciate literature for what it really is – the human connection that transcends time, that allows us to express things that we never thought we could face, that moves us to tears or laughter – it is the embodiment of all that makes us human.

~Evelyn Vaughn

Sponsors of the Reading Series include the English Department and Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University, Organization of Graduate Student Writers through ASCSU, College of Liberal Arts, and the Armstrong Hotel. These events are also sponsored by a grant from the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Fund, a premier supporter of arts and culture at CSU. Please help grow this fund with a gift at: http://president.colostate.edu/lillabmorgan/index.aspx.

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information call 970.491.6428 or e-mail mary.ellen.ballard@gmail.com.

Tags: , ,