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The Visiting Writers Series: Why You Should Care

Throughout the semester, Silhouette will be covering a number of the readings and workshops given by various writers who will be sharing readings from poems, stories, and give insight into their writing process. While specific spotlights will be written up on the individual writers, the context as to why we care is important.

So what is it? What exactly is the importance of hearing some man or woman read a few passages out of their poetry collection and answering some questions? Well, because it’s so much more than that.

College is a place of continual education but beyond that – it’s a place of invention, a unique congregation who’ve found (or are in the process of discovering) their passions. Among us are young men and women that are doing more than just learning, they’re applying - contention has ceased and creation has begun. That’s why these writers are so fascinating. They’re the embodiment of where we want to be – they’re the gym leaders, final bosses, they’re the ones we’re trying to catch up to and surpass (though simply joining their ranks would be a great accomplishment in itself). To hear the passions, excitements, and introspective words come from their author is something that’s intangible otherwise. An element is lost in translation on the page as opposed to when it comes from the tongue, the words have a weight to them, the words hold as much of a meaning as the eyes of the reader, the one who gave those words meaning. The story behind the words can be hidden in diction, syntax, and tone but it can also be concealed within the writer. Unfortunately, there’s no way to quantify or prove this to anyone unless they’ve been there for themselves, heard these truths that the writer holds from their own mouths. It’s for this reason that I implore you: should you have any interest in literature at all as a craft please check out this series.

Beyond the experience is the knowledge you can attain from those who’ve been through the gauntlet. Many writers struggle with the same things and, even if you don’t get a chance to ask a question (which is unlikely) it’s very probable someone else will have your exact question about their process, method, or just how to get started. A big mistake many writers make, in my estimation, is that they think writing is a personal, solitary endeavor. This can’t be farther from the truth. For any famous author there’s a great editor to tighten things up, a team of beta readers providing feedback, and friends/relatives/loved ones to bounce ideas off of. Great things are typically cultivated, not spontaneously generated. Thus, go, learn, and internalize what others are doing to be successful and take those lessons and make them your own. And if you’re not a writer, the fascinating stories that are shared in accompaniment with the readings are more than reason to take an hour out of your schedule.

Maybe at first glance you won’t see the benefit but I assure you, when you go for yourself, it will become apparent.

I’ll end with a passage from Poetry Is a Dumb-Ass Spider, a poem written by the next writer who is to visit this semester as a part of the visiting writer series, Lynda Barry.

What I don’t know yet is the spider I’m toasting is long gone, and that the web I thought was new is old and empty except for the tiny gray bodies a lot like ours wrapped tightly in the web’s edges where we shall vibrate together in the useful wind until that moment when the poetry finally lets us go.

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