The First ‘Writers Write, Writers Chat’ Series Features Author Grace Talusan

Photo Credit/ Grace Talusan's Website

Anastasia Basheer

Arts and Entertainment Editor

The English Department and the College of Arts and Science has sponsored the university’s first ever “Writers Write/ Writers Chat” series.

The initiative was founded by Assistant Professor of English Dr. Artress Bethany White.

“The series came out of my desire as new Department of English faculty to contribute to current program offerings during this virtual moment we are experiencing as an institution,” said Dr. White.

“Campus visitors are such an integral part of the university experience and I thought as a department we could still tap into the value of this tradition on a smaller scale despite pandemic and fiscal challenges.”

The first virtual meeting was held on November 16, 2020, with a total of twenty-eight attendees.

“This particular event also has broad appeal for those interested in topics that include creative writing, diversity, gender, immigration, trauma and the female body,” said Dr. White, according to the ESU Insider.

The guest speaker for the meeting was Grace Talusan author of “The Body Papers.”

The book has won the Restless Books prize for new immigrant writing.

According to Talusan’s website, “She was born in the Philippines and raised in New England. She graduated from Tufts University and the MFA Program in Writing at UC Irvine.”

Ms. Talusan is also the recipient of many awards and she is currently the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University.

The meeting comprised of Ms. Talusan reading excerpts from two chapters of her book after which she answered questions and delved into the meaning of her work.

Her work oozed of the pain and trauma she endured.

The Body Papers is appealing as it opens the floor to topics such as gender, race, immigration and trauma.

“I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to blend into the crowd. Growing up I could count the families of color in my town on one hand…” said Talusan in her book.

Not only did the memoirist achieve her goal of painting the picture and evoking the feelings she felt in her readers, but her recollection spoke for so many other immigrants, people of color and victims of abuse.

In a comment via email, Dr. White gave insight into how many Writers Write/Writers Chat events there will be saying, “Initially, I was thinking one speaker a semester would be a nice goal. My vision is to work with my colleagues to exploit the possibilities of “Writers Write/Writers Chat.’”

“There is no reason, for example, why we couldn’t have a future author present a largely craft-based discussion of generative writing strategies,” she said, highlighting the fact that students were intrigued and inquired as to the process Talusan took to publish her book, and that the series will further develop the skills of students.

When asked what she hopes to see come out of the series Dr. White said, “My hope is that this series will evolve interests and, in turn, support campus venues for student writing already in existence, like Calliope, while also spawning new possibilities. I also see faculty and staff writers and readers gaining inspiration from these intimate author chats.”

There was no word as to when the next event will be, but we can look forward to possibly hearing from Dr. White as she herself has a book, “Survivor’s Guilt: Essays on Race and American Identity.” 

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