Between the Lines: USF Hosts Writers Festival

Up-and-coming writers gathered to read from selected events at the University’s Emerging Writers’ Festival last week. The two-day event on April 8 took place in Fromm Hall. The festival was sponsored by the English Department and co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Studies and African American Studies Programs.

Ryan William Van Meter, Assistant Professor of English at USF as well as one of the main figures in charge of the festival, described the festival’s main focus as “celebrating the pleasure of reading and writing as an active member in a literary community while being inspired by fellow artists”. The festival began with three readings from distinguished authors Adam Peterson, Roger Reeves, and Michelle Orange. Peterson, a published author of flash fiction, commenced the event with shorter pieces he had written. His quirky delivery and side commentary resulted in laughs from the crowd and they only continued throughout his comical readings.

Next up, Roger Reeves, published poet and assistant professor at The University of Illinois, Chicago, read his poems with themes  ranging from racism to popular culture. With each reading, Reeves emphasized every emotion and feeling the poem offered, resulting in cheering and praise from the audience.

The last author, Michelle Orange, read one of her essays from her published novel, “This is Running For Your Life: Essays,” discussing her trip to Beirut, Lebanon during the spontaneous bombings occurring. Her vivid use of language and detail transported the audience right into her essay and a silence drifted through the crowd as she read through her experience.

The second night featured two writers, poet Sandra Lim and author Manuel Gonzales. Lim began by reading a handful of pieces from her book “The Wilderness” as well as a few pieces from her upcoming book. Most of her poetry discussed real life experiences, especially her move from California to Massachusetts as an assistant professor at The University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Gonzales finished the event by reading the last part of his work, “The Miniature Wife and Other Stories.”  His out-of-the-box story, discussing the woes of a zombie office worker falling in love with his human co-worker, earned laughs from the audience, helped by his quick delivery.

This group of authors exemplifies what the festival aims to accomplish. Each author’s pieces all differed in style and subject matter, resulting in a perfect balance of material for the festival.

“We aim to represent the richness of the current literary scene by inviting writers who come from a diversity of backgrounds and who work in a range of aesthetic styles,” Van Meter said. “We want to bring to campus writers who test boundaries and whose career paths will stand as compelling examples from students.”

The campus bookstore has set up a special display showcasing the authors’ novels.

 

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