Writers Series aims for inspiration

Authors share readings, writing help with interested students

By Stacy Sabaitis | 3/13/13 3:00pm

Caitlin Horrocks, associate professor of writing at Grand Valley State University, wants students to know that the Writers Series isn’t only open to writing majors.

As a coordinator for the event, she said all students are welcome to the event series, which features unique opportunities students wouldn’t find while just reading a book at home.

“It’s one experience to sort of read something on the page, like with yourself, in a book, and it’s something else to make a reading with like communal experience, like there’s something we’re used to experiencing in a group and experiencing out loud, and reading is something we usually experience as private,” Horrocks said.

The series started Monday with a poetry reading by Traci Brimhall, a poet and doctoral associate professor of creative writing at Western Michigan University. The discussion, held at the Grand Valley University Club on the Pew Campus, started with her reciting poems from her books “Rookery” and “Our Lady of the Ruins,” followed by a question portion. She also signed copies of her two books for students.

The series allows students to hear professionals read and discuss their work in a more intimate environment. Brimhall talked about her inspirations and offered advice for aspiring writers.

She said if students have a passion for writing, they should keep going with the process.

“I feel like inspiration is largely the job of the writer, like I can say one thing but that probably can’t sustain them their whole life,” Brimhall said. “What can sustain them is their own passion, so I hope that if I did any inspirational work at all, it just awakened what was already in them and that their own love of writing will be the thing that sustains them in their writing life.”

While college can include writing a lot of essays, Brimhall said students should enjoy them, instead of dreading the process.

“Even people who want to take it seriously should always remember that they came to it because they loved it and it gave them pleasure and joy, and not to think of it as arduous, but that a thing they can play with their whole life,” Brimhall said

If students want to send their poetry to a publication, Brimhall said they have “to be brave because I get rejected all the time, and all writers get rejected all the time and it’s just being a writer is a lifetime of rejection, but you also can’t get accepted if you don’t,” Brimhall said.

The second event on March 19 will feature David Shields, author of “How Literature Saved My Life.” With a slightly different format than Brimhall’s, his reading will feature more of a lecture and discussion format.

“…I’m going to talk about the importance of being wrong, of being willing to question yourself,” Shields said. “It’s a thing that’s absolutely, completely has messed up contemporary writers and everybody thinks they are right.”

The lecture will focus on writing with the media that is used to read and write in today’s society.
“The majority of students who come to my reading will of course be literature majors and writing majors and journalism majors, and I think that in my talk, in my reading, they’re gonna be about, you know, how to read and write now in the post-digital culture,” he said.

Shields’ discussion begins at 6 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center, and is open to all students, faculty and staff. For a complete list of the Writers Series events, go to gvsu.edu/writing.

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