By Holly Penta
Northwestern State University’s Department of English, Foreign Languages and Cultural Studies held a Creative Writing Faculty Showcase on Feb. 21, which was open to students and the Natchitoches community. Around 40 people attended to listen to poems and excepts of novels and to ask the authors questions.
Dr. Rebecca Macijeski, the coordinator of the NSU Creative Writing Program, was the first reader. She read poems from her project centered around a fictional 1930s fiddle player named Virgil. The poems told the stories of his adventures and gave Virgil mythological elements and abilities. One of these poems did not have a written title, instead it had a pictorial title of a train to represent the symbols homeless people during the Great Depression used to communicate. She also read some poems from the point of view of Death, imaging that Death is a woman.
Next, Professor Shae Montgomery read. His poetry contained interesting and literary takes on “The Munsters” and “The Adams Family.” He delves deep into the minds of the characters, exploring emotions largely ignored on screen including class, race, and gender throughout a whole book’s worth of poems. Then he read a few poems based on his difficult experience living in Nebraska, from the point of view of a character named Snake. Some of these poems were shared out loud for the first time at the reading.
Third, Professor Oona Zbitkovskis, author of Peculiar Poems for Pint Size Provocateurs read humorous poems intended for children. They were full of riddles and rhymes and made all ages of the audience laugh. Zbitkovski thinks “writers are completely obsessed with the idea of finishing things” even though revisions and drafts are an important part of the writing process, so she read some unfinished poems. These were a completely different genre of poems, full of proactive images and curses.
Dr. J. Andrew Briseño was the final reader. He read an excerpt of his novel Down and Out which is about a reality tv show based in Paris, Ark. The first excerpt described the dilapidated town, one unlikely to have a reality tv show based on it. The next except was from much later in the novel, from when the show was already on season 2 or 3. The town seemed to be overly invested in the show, and the characters had standard catch phrases and their own merchandise.
This department and faculty plan to have a reading once a semester, so be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming dates. This reading in particular was in celebration of the new Creative Writing concentration within the English Department that will start in Fall 2019. Next semester, there will also be two sections of the Introduction to Creative Writing class offered. Some other new classes are being developed including one that will focus on studying the creation of visual art and writing together.