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Professional writer’s series brings creators to WSU Vancouver

Writing is hard. Whether you are writing a paper for class, an article for the paper or a poem for yourself, finding the right words and arranging them in perfect harmony can be an arduous task on its own; without considering the worry of if you are accurately transcribing your thoughts and the stress of trying to stay true to what you want to say while still communicating effectively.

Then, you have to somehow muster the courage to share your writing, to be open to someone judging your work, this text-based child of your linguistic labors and allowing a stranger to tear your supposed-paper proof of talent apart in dismissive criticism as if your own self-flagellating critical voice isn’t enough penance.

Fortunately, the upcoming professional writer’s series allows students to commiserate with visiting big-time writers from a wide range of disciplines, from poets to graphic novelists, in shared prosaic and poetic anguish.

The writer’s series, sponsored by Washington State University Vancouver’s English department, is part of a hybrid creative writing taught by Professor Howard Aaron, who has been organizing the talks since he began teaching on campus. On class nights, students enrolled in the class are able to “speak about their own writing,” Aaron said. “[Students] learn from hearing the speakers, what they go through and what they’ve accomplished and their successes and failures. It augments their own perceptions about the work that they do.”

The free talks are not limited to students of Aaron’s class, or even of WSU Vancouver, but are open to the public. Attendees do not have to be aspiring authors to get something out of the talks either, Aaron said. Eager readers may also find them especially enlightening with the speakers “[providing] insights that [readers] wouldn’t normally get by just picking up a book.”

The guest writers’ presentations are not typical lectures, Aaron assured, “The talks aren’t academic. They’re more personal than that.” Aaron attempts to select authors who can “speak to human issues in a way that one, they’re compelling, and two, they’re interesting to other people.” This makes literature accessible and “opens it up,” Aaron said, “It’s a very humanizing process.”

“One of the things you find out from the writers that come is that they’re open, they’re receptive, at times they’re vulnerable, at times they need to challenge themselves,” Aaron said. The writers speak to the need to “risk taking chances in [your] writing… whether in an academic paper or anything… [and] put [yourself] out there.”

Aaron also urged students to be open-minded and come to a talk that might be outside of one’s usual interests. “It can be eye-opening,” Aaron said, “[Students] could surprise themselves.”

The writer’s series will commence Jan. 28 with graphic novelists Jacob and Arnold Pander, better known together as the Pander brothers, who will present “Edgy Media- The Graphic Novel.” On Feb. 11, film critic Steven Rea will present “What Makes Hollywood Hip?” On Feb. 25, author and criminal defense lawyer Phillip Margolin will present “The Legal Thriller.”

On March 10, author Judith Barrington will present “The Art of the Memoir.” On March 24, author Sallie Tisdale will present “Hello World: The Personal Essay.” Finally, on April 14, newly-published poet and WSU graduate student Zarah Moeggenberg will present “Poetry and the Spoken Word.”

Due to growing attendance, the talks have been moved to Multimedia Classroom Building, Room 6, a larger venue than previous semesters, and will begin at 7 pm.

Students with questions may contact Howard Aaron at 503-816-2742.


This story was published as a companion piece, to view the other article click here.

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