Reading Series: Edward Hamlin and Jim Shepard

Edward Hamlin is a Colorado-based writer whose work has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, In Digest, New Dog, and Cobalt, and has been produced theatrically in Chicago and Denver. He has recently completed a novel, Sleeping with Her, that explores dream life and the unconscious in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

His short story, “Night in Erg Chebbi,” won the 2013 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction and was published in the most recent issue of Colorado Review. Hamlin describes the story this way,

The story takes us on a journey into the Moroccan desert as a woman struggles to comes to term with her guilt over mistreating her brother. Along the way we meet up with Zouave guards, desert sheikhs, dying camels, ersatz harem girls, and automatic weapons in decidedly the wrong hands.

Reading with Hamlin was Jim Shepard, who Hamlin describes as “a writer I greatly admire, master storyteller … author of numerous story collections and novels. Jim was the judge who selected my story ‘Night in Erg Chebbi’ as the winner of the 2013 Nelligan Prize.”

English Department Communications Intern Brianna Wilkins attended the reading by Hamlin and Shepard February 6th 2014 in the CSU Art Museum at the University Center for the Arts, and has the following to share:

I think it’s safe to say that Thursday February 6, 2014 was the one of the coldest nights of the year. The air outside literally hurt my face, as I stepped out into the bitter cold night, but it was all worth it in the end after attending Jim Shepard and Ed Hamlin’s reading at the UCA. Despite the below freezing temperatures, the room was filled to capacity with eager faces, waiting on these two phenomenal writers to read excerpts from their latest work. Students eagerly took out their pens and notebook paper to jot down facts about the featured authors; others quietly chatted amongst themselves, excited for the reading.

Each author was presented by an aspiring writer, as sparks of hope flickered through their eyes and was heard in their voice; wishing to become as successful as each of the authors. As the night went on, I myself understood why there was such passion in each presenter’s voice, because Ed Hamlin and Jim Shepard definitely rocked the UCA with their readings.

edhamlin

Edward Hamlin

Ed Hamlin went first, and within the first 30 seconds of him introducing his piece, a melodic tone interrupted him, indicating that someone forgot to be courteous and turn their ringer off. With everyone searching for the inconsiderate person to glare at, Hamlin informed that it was his phone, and that instantly broke the ice as we laughed and became more eager to hear his award winning piece.

Hamlin read his short fiction piece Night in Erg Chebbi, winner of the Colorado Review’s 2013 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. In short, it’s centered on a woman and her husband who took a trip to Morocco, while she was dealing with the aftermath of her brother’s death in Afghanistan seven months prior. This was an emotional piece, and Hamlin’s somber tone had everyone in the room hanging on to his every word, hoping that it wouldn’t end in tragedy. Not one to spoil the story in its entirety, it can be read at http://coloradoreview.colostate.edu/features/night-in-erg-chebbi/. [Audio of this story from the reading is also available, http://www.edwardhamlin.com/audio/Erg_Chebbi_reading_Feb2014.mp3 (31:43)]

jimshepard

Jim Shepard

Coming all the way from the East Coast, Jim Shepard charmed the audience with his wit, making the audience laugh over and over again. He read two excerpts; one from his forthcoming novel, Aaron Only Thinks of Himself, and another from a short piece titled Cretan Love Song, 1600 B.C.. In Aaron Only Thinks of Himself, Shepard’s smooth voice serenaded the crowd as he read about a young boy who’d eventually be an orphan of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. He spoke of his troublesome but good hearted nature, of the loving relationship he had with his mother, and the difficult relationship he shared with his father. Cretan Love Song told of a Minoan tsunami that killed a father and son, and had a poetic feel to it.

Both authors took me on an emotional roller coaster. Throughout the laughs, heavy sighs, and consistent rounds of applause, Hamlin and Shepard together were nothing short of amazing. Despite the frigid weather, the warmth and welcoming presence of the audience, and the passion of each reader was well worth it.

~Brianna Wilkins

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: http://president.colostate.edu/lillabmorgan/index.aspx.

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information call 970.491.6428 or e-mail mary.ellen.ballard@gmail.com.

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