Writing Forward Reading Series
By Julia von Gersdorff
On Wednesday, May 24, at 6:30 pm in Nobili Dining Hall, a group of SCU English Department faculty members and students (and one Theater Department professor!) gathered together for the spring Writing Forward Reading Series event. This audience-directed event saw our faculty engaging with and reading to a myriad of students and other faculty from our university. Our bibliophilic community got a chance to enjoy the presentations of our professors’ own work, ranging from songs to novels to poems, and everything in between.
Claudia McIsaac presented two of her flash fiction stories, a lighthearted one called “A Tale” about a man who wakes up with an eight inch tale, and “Alphabet”, which begins:
“My pet ghost apologizes that she’s not a very good ghost. She can’t do tricks. She’s uncomfortable scaring people. She’s only a floating gray blob the size of a toddler. I tell her she’s perfect. I tell my husband about her, but he thinks the medication is making me hallucinate.”
Robin Tremblay-McGaw shared “The Name of the Father,” an epistolary piece about her father’s death. She concluded with the piece’s closing lines:
“I can tell you this: the dead follow you. One who has passed from one state to another. My father I suspect will be more with me now than when alive. A final gesture endlessly readable, the way his face suggested painting itself. A Goya. Maybe St. Jerome. The strangeness of the present participle—dying—how it extends, elastic, rests, finally. Dead. Hovering here”
Maggie Levantovskaya read from a personal essay she wrote which “explores the impact of Russia's war on Ukraine on [her] family”, as well as delving into her “grandparents' experience in the Soviet Union during WWII to show how historical trauma shapes our responses to new conflicts”.
Kirk Glaser read the opening to his novel in progress The Buddha's Detective Agency. The story takes place in Northern India during the time of the Buddha, and is based on a story in the Buddhist sutras about a rival sect attempting to blame the rape and murder of a young woman on the Buddha and his disciples. The novel involves two detectives, Brahmar, former deputy chief of the Royal Guard in the kingdom of Kosala, and Shannon Cleary, a forensics specialist on the Oakland Police Force who time travels via meditation to help solve the crime.
Miah Jeffra showcased a lyrical essay that entwines “controversies in contemporary American art, visual theories of connotation, and memoir”.
David Keaton read a chapter from his recent novel, HEAD CLEANER, which described a scene based on his own experiences participating in the research study at the Facebook campus in Palo Alto, which earns the protagonist “a 100-dollar gift card for [his] troubles!” Keaton asserts that the novel to be a “satirical experience and a (slightly) exaggerated description of the [Facebook] campus.” His reading also consisted of sharing a conversation overheard in an elevator in which strangers were discussing a pork-jowl sandwich, jokingly noting that the conversation “seemed ripe for parody (as did their breath).”
Tim Myers graced the audience with an original song as well as two of his poems. His folk song “Drought” was about “a man whose own violence ends up being his undoing”. His poem “Anorexia” centered around the death of his sister and the “heartbreaking denial” that he subsequently observed in his family. “Funk Band: A Theology” was a poem which “showed a contrast between certain bleak ideas about life in major religions and the direct bodily and spiritual joy of dancing to a funk band”.
Brian Thorstenson of SCU’s Theater and Dance Department also read two pieces at the event; one named “this is a ghost story,” which is about “loss and disappearances, particularly with queer spaces in the city”, and another named “Pharmacy on Fire”, which presented a “leaping take on gentrification.”
Other than the aforementioned captivating readings by beloved SCU faculty, there was also plenty of time at this Writing Forward Reading Series for sharing laughter, meaningful conversation, and, of course, plenty of snacks. Please join us for Writing Forward Reading Series events next year, held quarterly in the fall, winter, and spring!