~From English Department Communications Intern Kara Nosal
On April 30th, I attended the final installment of the Creative Writing Reading Series of the school year. Presenting their MFA projects were Gracie McCarrol, Neil Fitzpatrick, Matt Treslow, and Drew Webster.
I started to get a bad case of nostalgia walking into the University Center for the Arts as it would be the last time I did so as a student at CSU. I would graduate in a few weeks and I was exhausted. After so many late nights writing papers, crashing after black-coffee buzzes, and missing the bus, I had begun holding my eyelids open in lectures. And this was the end to another Thursday, getting to campus at 8 am and staying until 9:30 pm, or whenever the reading ended. Still, I was excited through my grogginess. I felt that this reading would stand out as special compared to all the readings I had attended, and I was right. This reading did prove to be special and in ways that exceeded my expectations.
Upon arriving at the Organ Recital Hall, I saw that something was different right away. The podium and microphone were not the lone objects on stage. Two wedding dresses, a table and chair set, and a projector screen were scattered around. When Gracie McCarrol sat down in the chair to read her informative and poetic piece about anásyrma, or the practice of lifting of a skirt to dispel power. It turns out that the two wedding dresses were created by McCarrol, as was a film which she showed at the end of reading. I cannot begin to describe the movie, but only say that I felt alternatively amused, frightened, disturbed, and saddened.
Neil Fitzpatrick took the stage next to read his short story, “Time to Make the Donuts.” Fitzpatrick’s story centered around a young woman who woke up one day with a buzzing in her ear. She goes to see a doctor who suggests unorthodox treatments. I was captivated by Fitzpatrick’s easy, eloquent dialogue. Also, he included what felt like fantasy in everyday life. Sometimes there really was magic involved (the mutilation of time, for example), and sometimes it appeared the odd daily occurrences could happen to anyone. He demonstrated a mastery over this mystical tone to the point that it seeped through every scene, no matter what was happening. I started to believe everything could be considered a kind of magic.
A story that muddled time was an appropriate introduction for the next reader. Matt Treslow’s poetry utilized repetition to the point of creating what felt like time-warps to me. He would repeat the phrases, “A sound place now to go” and “Get those words out of your mouth and into your heart” throughout, which would give the illusion that I was travelling in circles with him. Those circles were not smooth, judging by sound alone. Treslow also used audible line-breaks and caesuras. Like McCarrol, I did not understand fully Treslow’s poetry (I suppose it’s doubly hard to do this hearing it only once) but by the time he finished, I had a satisfied feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if I had experienced what it was he was trying to relay to the audience.
Drew Webster finished out the night with his Beat-influenced poetry extravaganza, if I may call it that. Webster’s poetry was scattered with fun and unexpected images, like the story woven throughout about a submarine and a zeppelin in love or how he jumped from casual language to faux-Old English. Yet, like his Beat Generation predecessor, Allen Ginsberg, Webster may have written about the funky colorful things of modernity but he was always speaking of something deeper. Something about identity, victory, and love.
It struck me how close in age each reader was to me. All of them were in their twenties, like me. They had created beautiful pieces. Maybe this had been their magnum opus, written at the age of 25 or so. That night, I believed I could do this too, even though I’m not going to graduate school. Maybe I can write something heart-wrenching like McCarrol, magical like Fitzpatrick, rhythmic like Treslow, and kaleidoscopic like Webster. These readers were some of my last teachers I’d have at CSU. After all the books and the papers and the lectures were through, these teachers showed me that I could truly create something that mattered with the tools I had worked hard to fashion over these past four years.