Professors bare their souls

Professors school students with creative writing readings

ANNA YOUNG, Evergreen columnist

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The first thing that happened when I sat down at WSU’s second annual Welcome Back Reading was that somebody took a chair next to me that I had been saving for a friend. I watched him walk away with it, and shrugged to said friend when she made it to the building.

“Thank you,” said professor Donna Potts in her introduction, “for finding your way through the smoke to what I hope is an illuminated evening.”

She then introduced the staff who would be sharing what they had written. One at a time, the professors came to stand at the front and read.

And an illuminated evening it was.

The first reader, Kim Burwick, admitted that she had left her own book in her car, and would therefore be sharing something different. Buddy Levy forgot to print his selection and Zarah Moeggenberg also left her book in her car.

But it was clear each of the staff members, no matter how forgetful, remembered the most important thing: how to write.

The topics soared from the thought-provoking to the devastating, from Rebecca Goodrich’s personal essay about guns, to Burwick’s heartbreaking poetry about her son’s heart disease.

“I’m going to read from some new poems,” she said. “Some really, really new poems. Too new.”

Nonetheless, her raw writing spilled out emotion and vivid images, and came across just as polished and poignant as a completed anthology.

The energetic Levy (who happened to be the one who took my chair) touched on the topic of Manifest Destiny in his poem about the West, and also shared the beginnings of an adventurous creative nonfiction about polar exploration. In contrast, Moeggenberg related an abstraction of love through the image of a quail.

“I’m just fascinated by how scared they get,” she said of her inspiration; her poem depicted a lover’s curls through a quail’s plumes.

To cap it all off, Linda Russo spoke about a project series placing her poetry on plaques in the Ontario wilderness. She read the poems that would be incorporated. In a few short lines, stark against the plaque’s expanse of white, each poem provided a brief yet insightful comment on the nature of life.

The end result of the reading was a satisfying glance into the lives and careers of fellow writers. So maybe a few of them did forget their works in the car; as Edgar Allan Poe said, “I was never really insane, except on occasions where my heart was touched.”

Anna Young is a freshman creative writing major from Helena, Montana. She can be contacted at [email protected]