by Evelyn Vaughn

At the Creative Nonfiction thesis reading on April 17th, the night opened with a definition of the word “war.” According to the Oxford Online Dictionary, it is simply “a state of armed conflict,” but by the end of the night, those who attended the reading had several new definitions for the world war. In particular, what comes to my mind is “damaging” and “heartbreaking,” but unfortunately, these things are not included in the Oxford Online Dictionary definition.

The reason the night opened with these definitions is because the two readers that night, Tara Smith and Sam Tucker Iacovetto, both wrote and spoke of war. Though from different perspectives, the two pieces shared the same sorrow at the necessity of war. Tara Smith, a student veteran, read a chapter from what will one day be her memoir discussing why she came to CSU. As she told us, she considered reading something more comedic to lighten the mood after the piece about war and her attempted suicide, but she decided that her work needed to stand on its own.

“The darkest part of me was disappointed that I’d survived.”
“The darkest part of me was disappointed that I’d survived.”

By the end of her reading, I found myself envying not only Smith’s writing, but her bravery at speaking about her experiences. When Sam Tucker Iacovetto came on stage, I was unprepared, as usual, for the outpouring of emotion that every reading seems to bring out of me. Having no personal experience with war myself, I did not think that I would find myself choking up, but when Tucker spoke of the loss of her brother in war, I could not help but think of my own siblings, and how much it would hurt me to lose them.

I was, apparently, so affected by these two readers that I managed not to snap a photo of Sam Tucker Iacovetto reading some of what she called her “micro-essays,” but I did note a few lines that struck me as powerful and emblematic of her ability as a writer. The one I found the most heartbreaking was when she spoke of her brother, saying, “I need you to know that Ronnie is momentary,” in reference to her memories of him.

Near the end of the semester, reflecting on the nature of war seems to color the world in an apocalyptic shade, especially when we are all drowning in work and finals. For me, however, it was a reminder of the things that are greater than ourselves, of the things that people face and overcome. If these two fantastic readers can face such things as war and death and come out as accomplished as they are today, then I have hope that we are much stronger than we think we are – certainly strong enough to survive finals.

One more reading is scheduled for this semester: Ben Findlay & Kaelyn Riley, May 1st, tonight, MFA Thesis Reading, (fiction & poetry).

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:

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information call 970.491.6428 or e-mail