“We really liked them! We were really impressed,” exclaimed several audience members at the Craft of Creative Nonfiction reading on Wednesday. The reading, which was held in Burling Library, featured writing by the students of Professor Ralph Savarese’s Craft of Creative Nonfiction class. Professor Savarese collaborated with Laureen Cantwell, Term Research and Instruction Librarian, to put on the event. Seventeen students presented short pieces of writing of varying forms, ranging from memoirs to travel articles, all of which were written for different assignments over the course of the semester.
“The class breaks the idea of creative nonfiction up into a bunch of subgenres,” Savarese said. “So there is the subgenre of memoir, the subgenre of the travel essay (so you heard some travel essays tonight), there’s the subgenre of literary journalism, the subgenre of the lyric essay, the subgenre of the profile. … The idea is that they read models from each of these subgenres by professionals and then they construct assignments derived from those models about their own experience.”
The students wrote about a diverse array of topics. One student wrote about her father and his forays into the career as a health product salesman, while another student wrote about his unintended experience as an American tourist at Machu Picchu.
“I thought the one about video games and cheating and card games really had both an interesting message and an interesting lens on the topic,” Cantwell said of the piece that Winsome Eustace ’12 wrote. “I also thought the woman who told the story about Nanjing was pretty interesting,” Cantwell continued in refrence to the piece presented by Professor Meehan, Philosophy. “It was emotional; it was obviously something that is very close to her life.”
The audience was sizable, with over 40 students and faculty in attendance. The otherwise hushed rooms of Burling echoed frequently with laughter at clever wordplay or the relatable, awkward experiences of pubescence.
“It’s one thing to be funny in the real world,” Savarese said. “It’s much harder to be funny on the page. Writing is an art. Creative writing is supposed to be heard, there’s got to be an audience. But more important is that they try to revise these final pieces for the portfolio. Hearing yourself read a piece aloud gives you access to the piece that just reading it to yourself does not.”