Category Archives: Reading Series

Dinty Moore Reading

Fall Poster 2014
~From Communications Intern Tim Mahoney

This semester, the Creative Writing Reading Series has brought some incredible authors to our campus. Dr. E.J. Levy, director of the series, did an amazing job at bringing a diverse assortment of creative writers, whose specialties ranged from poetry to nonfiction. As the end of the semester approaches, sadly so does the end of this semester’s reading series. One of final readings this semester took place on November 13th, and featured acclaimed nonfiction writer and editor Dinty Moore.

Moore has written several books including The Accidental Buddhist, Toothpick Men, and The Emperor’s Virtual Clothes. Moore is also the editor of the online journal Brevity, which publishes creative nonfiction of 750 words or less. Because of his distinguished career in nonfiction, it was a real benefit to attend the event and hear him read some of his new work.

dintymoorereadingThe works he chose to read that night all had one thing in common; each essay used humor to approach the extremely profound and personal experiences in his life. His first piece delved into his family’s history as Irish Catholics, in which he used humor to approach his own father’s issues with alcohol. His father’s alcoholism put a lot of strain on his family when Moore was growing up.

Moore explained that his legal name is William Moore, after his father, but has always gone by Dinty, the name of the Irish bartender from the popular comic strip Bringing Up Father from the early 20th century. All of his works were intimate, personal, yet relatable on a human level. I felt the selections he chose to read demonstrated his talent as a nonfiction writer.

After the reading, Moore was asked about the use of comedy in nonfiction: why it is a tool that writers are employing more and more in their writing, and what humor adds to the genre of nonfiction. This question was particularly thought provoking, however Moore answered the question with only a moment’s hesitation. To paraphrase: “humor is an important tool for writers because it allows them approach very difficult subjects. Both writers and audiences benefit from having humor disarm certain situations.”
dintymoorereading02Moore provided a good answer. As a nonfiction writer myself, it can be extremely hard to write about the difficult times in life, and using humor gives you some distance from the subject. Hearing Moore explain the nature of his work, and his use of humor, gave me tools to use in my own writing. For me, that is the point of the Creative Writing Reading Series.

Looking back at the different readings this semester, I have a clear picture of the lessons each author passed along. Every author has had different experiences, and each offers their own unique approach to writing. As a student I have found that observing these amazing artists and listening to their work has allowed me to learn from them, and use that knowledge to improve my writing both in academia and beyond.


Next reading in the Creative Writing Reading Series: MFA Students, University Center for the Arts, Museum, Thursday December 4th at 7:30 p.m.

Sponsors of the Reading Series include the English Department and Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University, Organization of Graduate Student Writers through ASCSU, Mike Liggett, Tae Nosaka, and the Poudre River Library District.

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information e-mail andrewnmangan@gmail.com. For a full listing of 2014-2015 Creative Writing Reading series events, please visit: http://english.colostate.edu/docs/reading-series-poster.pdf

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Writer’s Harvest Reading: Sasha Steensen and Ira Sukrungruang

writersharvest

~From English Department Communications Intern Tim Mahoney

The Creative Writing Reading Series invited authors Sasha Steensen and Ira Sukrungruang to read selections of their latest work at the Writers’ Harvest Benefit on October 23rd. For this event attendants were asked to bring in canned non-perishable food items to donate to the Larimer County Food Bank. Those who donated food items were given the chance to win great prizes from local business who also donated their goods and services to benefit the local food bank. On top of some incredible prizes including gift baskets from Whole Foods Market and Snooze, the Writers’ Harvest Benefit gave students and members of the community the chance to hear some truly amazing works of literature.

The reading, which took place in the University Center for the Arts Museum, began with CSU’s own Sasha Steensen who read selections from her latest chapbook House of Deer. The poems from this collection were about family, her childhood, and where she grew up. The book has been described as “a lyric inquiry into a personal history of the back-to-the-land idealism of the 1970s, with its promises and failings, naturalism gone awry, and journeys into the worlds of addiction, recovery, and, ultimately, family.” All of the poems Steensen read were from her new work — all except for the last, a new poem she’d been working on that very day. Her language and close attention to detail demonstrate her skill as a poet and her mastery of the craft.

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Ira Sukrungruang took the podium next, and read some of his latest nonfiction essays. Sukrungruang is the author of numerous collections of nonfiction, including his memoir Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy. Like Steensen, Sukrungruang demonstrated his skills in crafting nonfiction pieces that are both wildly entertaining and thought provoking. Each essay he read offered his audience a glimpse into his personal history growing up Buddhist in Chicago, but his careful and thoughtful writing made his experiences widely relatable.

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As a writer I find these readings are wonderful opportunities to hear exceptional authors read their work, which often helps me in my own writing. Seeing how successful writers craft their poems and essays is a learning experience that every writer at CSU should take advantage of. CSU’s Creative Writing Reading Series will continue to bring authors to campus and I encourage anyone interested in hearing great poetry and prose to attend. Hopefully writers will take from these readings a new piece of knowledge that will help make their writing more insightful, impactful, and beautiful.


Next reading in the Creative Writing Reading Series: Dinty Moore, University Center for the Arts, Museum, Thursday November 13th at 7:30 p.m.

Sponsors of the Reading Series include the English Department and Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University, Organization of Graduate Student Writers through ASCSU, Mike Liggett, Tae Nosaka, and the Poudre River Library District.

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information e-mail andrewnmangan@gmail.com. For a full listing of 2014-2015 Creative Writing Reading series events, please visit: http://english.colostate.edu/docs/reading-series-poster.pdf

Dinty Moore Reading

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image credit: Dinty Moore

From EJ Levy: “The Creative Writing Reading Series is thrilled to present award-winning author and editor Dinty Moore reading from his recent work NEXT WEEK, on THURSDAY, Nov. 13, 2014, at 7:30PM at the UCA Museum, 1400 Remington Street. A Q&A and book signing will follow the reading.

Dinty Moore’s memoir Between Panic & Desire was winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize in 2009. His other books include The Accidental Buddhist, Toothpick Men, The Emperor’s Virtual Clothes, and the writing guide, The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction.

Moore has published essays and stories in Southern Review, Georgia Review, Harpers, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, Gettysburg Review, Utne Reader, and Crazyhorse, among numerous other venues.

A professor of nonfiction writing at Ohio University, Moore has won many awards for his writing, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction. He is the editor of Brevity, an on-line journal of creative nonfiction, and is on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction magazine.

This event is free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!

Creative Writing Reading Series: Writers’ Harvest Benefit

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The Creative Writing Reading Series is thrilled to present the Writers’ Harvest benefit reading THIS THURSDAY, Oct. 23, 2014, at 7:30PM at the UCA Museum, 1400 Remington Street, featuring award-winning authors Ira Sukrungruang and Sasha Steensen, in support of the Larimer Food Bank. Bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the food bank (e.g., canned tuna, peanut butter) for a chance to win a gift basket from Whole Foods, breakfast for two at Snooze, or other great raffle prizes.

Ira Sukrungruang, a Chicago-born Thai-American, is author of the memoir Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy and the poetry collection In Thailand It Is Night. He co-edited What Are You Looking At: The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology, both published by Harcourt Brace. What Are You Looking At? is the first book that looks at the fat experience through the lens of literature. His essays, poems, and short stories have appeared in many literary journals, including Creative Nonfiction, the Sun, the Bellingham Review, North American Review, Crab Orchard Review, Post Road, and Brevity. He is at work on several projects: a memoir about his time as Thai entitled Monk for a Month; a memoir about his love for dogs, titled Buddha’s Dog; a collection of short stories, Happy Ends; and a collection of poetry, The Green We Speak.

Poet Sasha Steensen grew up in rural Ohio and Las Vegas. She earned a BA and an MFA at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a PhD in poetics at SUNY Buffalo. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including House of Deer (2014), The Method (2008), and A Magic Book (2004), which won the Alberta DuPont Bonsal Prize, as well as several chapbooks, including the collaboration Correspondence: For La Paz (2004) with Gordon Hadfield. She is an Associate Professor at Colorado State University.

A book signing and raffle will follow the reading. This event is free and open to the public.

Gary Snyder Reading

image by Tim Mahoney

Gary Snyder reading, image by Tim Mahoney

Poet Gary Snyder read on September 17, 2014 at the University Art Center. This event was attended by English Department Communications intern Tim Mahoney, who had this to share:

Last week, CSU’s English Department invited renowned author, Gary Snyder, to campus for a reading of his latest work. While I was annoyed that I had missed the turn for the University Center for the Arts, instinctively heading towards the library (where I spend many of my nights), I was excited that this visit was not strictly for business.

I’ve always enjoyed attending the readings sponsored by the English Department. Our reading series draws many talented authors to campus to share their fiction, non-fiction, or poetry with students, faculty, and the Fort Collins community. This semester, we were lucky enough to have Gary Snyder come and read from his new volume of poetry, beautifully entitled, This Present Moment. Before he began his reading, we were told that the event was to be moved to a larger auditorium to accommodate the large number of people in attendance. There was a slight delay as the ushers clambered to set up the new venue, and move the audience row by row to the new location, but the move was quick and seamless. Although I heard a few groans from some of the patrons, as they gathered their things and prepared to move down the hall, it was amazing to see so many people come out and show their support for the English Department’s reading series. Soon after everyone was settled, Snyder was welcomed to an uproarious applause and the reading was underway.

Gary Snyder reading, image by Tim Mahoney

Gary Snyder reading, image by Tim Mahoney

Snyder, who was immortalized in Jack Kerouac’s novel The Dharma Bums, and who participated in the historic Six Gallery Reading — which launched the Beat Generation Movement — took the stage to read selections from his latest volume including poems about his college sweetheart, his late wife, the beauty and destructive nature of forest fires, Indian marital arrangements, relaxation, and life’s many paths.

He opened with the poem dedicated to his college sweetheart, reminiscing about the time he spent with her, perfectly capturing the wonderful power of nostalgia and past love. His next poem, “Off the Trail,” dedicated to his late wife Carole, took us even deeper into that strangely wonderful feeling of remembrance. His ability to look back at his life with such clarity and grace moved me in ways that might have been missed had I only read his poems in print.

No path will get you there, we’re off the trail,
You and I, and we chose it!
~Gary Snyder, “Off the Trail”

Gary Snyder reading, image by Sarah Sloane

Gary Snyder reading, image by Sarah Sloane

Hearing poetry read has a completely different feel; the author’s voice and tone enhance the words. To fully experience a poem, I need to hear it performed. Snyder’s performance of his work was spectacular to say the least; his voice, breaths, and personality all contributed to an experience that cannot be contained on paper. I left the auditorium that night a true enthusiast of his work.

I recommend that every English major should attend these readings. It was incredible to hear Snyder’s work, and to see him perform his poetry. Sitting there with friends, classmates, and professors, as well members of the larger community, I couldn’t help but be moved by Snyder’s poetry and his passion for life, nature, and love of living in the present moment.

Gary Snyder singing books, image by Tim Mahoney

Gary Snyder singing books, image by Tim Mahoney


Next reading in the Creative Writing Reading Series: Writers’ Harvest with Ira Sukrungruang and Sasha Steensen, Poetry and Prose, University Center for the Arts, Museum, Thursday October 23rd at 7:30 p.m.

Sponsors of the Reading Series include the English Department and Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University, Organization of Graduate Student Writers through ASCSU, Mike Liggett, Tae Nosaka, and the Poudre River Library District.

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information e-mail andrewnmangan@gmail.com. For a full listing of 2014-2015 Creative Writing Reading series events, please visit: http://english.colostate.edu/docs/reading-series-poster.pdf

Reading Series: Ben Findlay and Kaelyn Riley

At the final MFA reading of the semester, the two readers were Ben Findlay and Kaelyn Riley, a fiction writer and a poet (respectively). The crowd was rather large for the UCA, and because I was early, I had the pleasure of watching people scramble trying to gather enough chairs for the event. When Ben was introduced to the audience, his ability to describe conditions of poverty was praised, and when he read the story he had prepared, “Pressure,” I could see what the introduction had meant.

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“We’re smiling in most of the photographs, even if we knew it wouldn’t last…She’s starting to look past me, she’s not looking for a better solution, she’s looking for a better equation.”

The story recounted the tale of a young man named George who works for a glass business, desperately trying to get home to his girlfriend but being constantly held up by the routine of getting paid by a particularly difficult auto repair shop owner. Through his eyes, we see the conditions of poverty and how unfortunate it is to have kidney stones (which made the audience laugh a lot), as well as the toll this lifestyle can have on a relationship. I was so enthralled throughout the entire thing that I decided rather than take careful notes of lines that I liked that I would just record it so I could pay more attention.

I had to do the same thing for the next reader, Kaelyn Riley. As many people filed out of the UCA as soon as Ben finished, I wondered why anyone would want to miss the superb poet that came on stage. While it’s much harder to summarize poetry, many of the ideas presented in Riley’s poetry revolved around what it is to be a woman and what it is to say what you mean, though that does not do her poetry justice. As I walked home that night, I pondered these ideas.

kaelynriley

“’I’d forgotten autumn here,’ I say, lamely, anything, and loathe the poetry of it. The block that we just walked is a termination of the light.”

The final reading of the semester was well worth the time the week before Dead Week. These two readers provided an escape from the grueling hours of studying and writing essays, and I certainly look forward to the series continuing in the fall, even if I will not be writing about them any longer.

~Evelyn Vaughn

Reading Series: Sam Tucker Iacovetto & Tara Smith

by Evelyn Vaughn

At the Creative Nonfiction thesis reading on April 17th, the night opened with a definition of the word “war.” According to the Oxford Online Dictionary, it is simply “a state of armed conflict,” but by the end of the night, those who attended the reading had several new definitions for the world war. In particular, what comes to my mind is “damaging” and “heartbreaking,” but unfortunately, these things are not included in the Oxford Online Dictionary definition.

The reason the night opened with these definitions is because the two readers that night, Tara Smith and Sam Tucker Iacovetto, both wrote and spoke of war. Though from different perspectives, the two pieces shared the same sorrow at the necessity of war. Tara Smith, a student veteran, read a chapter from what will one day be her memoir discussing why she came to CSU. As she told us, she considered reading something more comedic to lighten the mood after the piece about war and her attempted suicide, but she decided that her work needed to stand on its own.

“The darkest part of me was disappointed that I’d survived.”

“The darkest part of me was disappointed that I’d survived.”

By the end of her reading, I found myself envying not only Smith’s writing, but her bravery at speaking about her experiences. When Sam Tucker Iacovetto came on stage, I was unprepared, as usual, for the outpouring of emotion that every reading seems to bring out of me. Having no personal experience with war myself, I did not think that I would find myself choking up, but when Tucker spoke of the loss of her brother in war, I could not help but think of my own siblings, and how much it would hurt me to lose them.

I was, apparently, so affected by these two readers that I managed not to snap a photo of Sam Tucker Iacovetto reading some of what she called her “micro-essays,” but I did note a few lines that struck me as powerful and emblematic of her ability as a writer. The one I found the most heartbreaking was when she spoke of her brother, saying, “I need you to know that Ronnie is momentary,” in reference to her memories of him.

Near the end of the semester, reflecting on the nature of war seems to color the world in an apocalyptic shade, especially when we are all drowning in work and finals. For me, however, it was a reminder of the things that are greater than ourselves, of the things that people face and overcome. If these two fantastic readers can face such things as war and death and come out as accomplished as they are today, then I have hope that we are much stronger than we think we are – certainly strong enough to survive finals.


One more reading is scheduled for this semester: Ben Findlay & Kaelyn Riley, May 1st, tonight, MFA Thesis Reading, (fiction & poetry).

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.