An APU tradition since 1981, Writers Read showcases a handful of faculty and students’ greatest original poems and short stories. For many students, the event is a unique opportunity to present their written works in a vocalized format.
Ryan Dodge, a senior English major who presented his poem “Palms,” said his favorite aspect of the event was “getting to hear work by fellow students and my teachers. It’s always fascinating to me to hear the work of others, especially people I know well and care about. It shows a different side of them that doesn’t always come out.”
Dr. Ralph Carlson, professor emeritus in the Department of English, explained how verbalizing written works helps authors realize how their compositions can be modified and improved upon.
“Reading something aloud brings a different dimension to the writer’s experience,” Carlson said. “This continues because it’s a good experience for writers and helps them improve their writing skills and confidence.”
Carlson created the Writers Read event in 1981. “I’m very glad that the tradition continues,” he said.
Associate professor in the Department of English Dr. Christine Kern presented Carlson with a pen and notebook during the event, thanking him for his dedication throughout the years.
Previously held in the LAPC, this is the first time the event has taken place in Wilden Lecture Hall.
“We outgrew the previous room,” Kern said. “It’s amazing how [Writers Read has] grown. We had a reading last year where people were all along the walls and sitting in the pathways.”
She explained how the size increase could have potentially left empty space that would take away from the sense of community.
“I was thrilled with the turnout,” Kern said. “We had people from the Writing Center, alumni—people from the whole spectrum, not just our department event.”
Although the format has changed minimally over the years, the hosts are open to implementing new ideas.
“I’ve tried in the past to get staff and faculty members from a variety of departments to participate,” Carlson said. “Perhaps someone from religion and philosophy could do a short psalm in Hebrew, then in English.”
The event is designed to give authors and poets a platform upon which to express themselves and receive feedback from their fellow writers. Carlson said many students come away “surprised at how well they did, encouraged to keep on writing because friends and [others] complimented them, [telling them] what in the material moved them most.”
Writers Read is unique in the sense that it provides a space for writers to read their work aloud, something many writers rarely do. With no podium to hide behind, the authors are laid bare before their audience.
“I have never read my poetry in a public setting,” Dodge said. “[I] felt like this was a good stepping stone for trying [out] this type of performance.”
Graduate student in the English program Matthew Parker presented his short story, “This is My Husband Paul,” and said it was his first time participating in Writers Read.
“I was super nervous going in since public speaking is one of my biggest fears, but I’m glad I did it,” Parker said. “I feel like I managed it much better than I was expecting.”
Writers Read is held once each semester. Although it is hosted by the Department of English, submission is open to all.
“I really like seeing the talent and imagination we have here at APU,” Parker said. “I think art and literature are very important, and I’m glad APU is encouraging its community to participate in that world.”