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Oct 16, 2018
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Creative writing program hosts award-winning authors

Six national award-winning authors, two of whom are on Fresno State’s creative writing faculty, will be presenting their literary works to the public every Friday at 7 p.m. in the Alice Peters Auditorium for the next two months.

The series began last Friday with author Chelsea Wagenaar, an instructor and doctoral fellow in poetry at the University of North Texas. Wagenaar read from her Philip Levine prize-winning poetry collection “Mercy Spurs the Bone.”

Communication specialist for the master of fine arts program in creative writing, Jefferson Beavers hopes people attending the spring series will be engaged by the readings.

“I think it’s just a time to kind of take a timeout from the things that are happening in the world and kind of let yourself enjoy language and words,” Beavers said.

He said he hopes the same thing especially for students and English majors who may be attending the readings.

“I think we just want them to be inspired,” he said. “We want them to be better people. We want them to be inspired to create their own work.”

This semester’s reading series includes various poetry writers. Beavers said there will be authors such as Jon Veinberg, who is known as one of the classic Fresno poets and was a student of the famous Fresno poet Philip Levine at Fresno State. Marilyn Chin,  a widely anthologized poet and essayist, is also scheduled.  Fresno State alumnus poet Jeffrey Schultz, who teaches at Pepperdine University, will also be speaking.

Last in the spring lineup, Tim Skeen will be reading from his prize-winning poetry collection, “Risk.” Skeen is the coordinator of the Fresno State MFA program and also serves as director of the Fresno Poets’ Association. Skeen said it took him 13 years to get his works of poetry published.

“It evolved and changed over those years, and hopefully I’d like to think it at least changed for the better,” Skeen said.

He said there are only an estimated 1,000 poet writers in the U.S. right now.

“We’re the endangered species. What you want to do is protect that which is irreplaceable. The reading series has a way of showing people these writers are irreplaceable in a way,” Skeen said. Skeen mentioned how the reading series can help to provide insight for him on his literary works.

“It helps me to read my work aloud to an audience, because I can see often times through people’s faces what’s working and what’s not working,” he said.

Presenting today will be Fresno State professor, essayist Steven Church. He will be reading from his recently published fourth book of nonfiction essays, “Ultrasonic.” Church said he’s excited to introduce to the public some of the essays from the book.

“It’s also a great chance for me to thank a lot of family, friends, colleagues, and students who have supported my work on the book”, Church said.

He said the length of time it took to write “Ultrasonic” was over a period of five years that involved hard work in writing individual essays and gathering them into his new collection.

“But I love to write, so it doesn’t necessarily feel like hard work all the time,” Church said.

Church hopes that people attending the event will begin to think differently about the world after hearing some of his literary essays.

“Maybe they’ll leave thinking a little differently about what an essay can do, or they might just get a good nap.”

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