Rutgers Writers House holds Q&A with Eileen Myles
The Writers House, an undergraduate learning community at Rutgers which serves as an expressive media platform and creative space, hosted poet Eileen Myles this past Wednesday at the College Avenue Student Center.
The event featured a mid-day Q&A session and was followed by a reading of curated works by Myles presented to students and members of the community free of charge.
The final installment in a year-long string of events hosted by the Department of English entitled “Writers at Rutgers Reading Series” worked in conjunction with Writers House to host a number of exchanges between well-known writers and the Rutgers community, according to their site.
Ana Maron, the Writers House program coordinator, said planning for the events is completed on a yearly basis with Myles being the last of the year. Preparation for next year has already commenced as communications between guest writers and the department requires attention well in advance.
In promoting the event, the department made sure to advertise the event through ads in The Daily Targum and postings on Lister so that creative writing directors and the general public were aware of the upcoming dates, Maron said.
Most creative writing professors integrate these events into their syllabus, offering them as mandated assignments or an opportunity for students to gain extra credit, Maron said. It becomes imperative then to keep them and everyone else aware of any changes.
In organizing these events, Rutgers is very fortunate to have Mark Doty, a professor in the Department of English and Writers House director, Maron said. In lieu of his many published works, he keeps his finger on the pulse of the writing community, inviting other prominent writers to present for the Rutgers community.
“It’s not even so much that we’re looking for the biggest names but definitely thinking about what will appeal to the students and the community interests. It’s less about the writing as it is about the writer — looking for someone to engage students and the community,” she said.
In 2015 Doty brought on Marlon James, a Jamaican-born fiction writer who was awarded the 2015 Man Booker Prize for "A Brief History of Seven Killings" two days prior to his appearance here, Maron said.
Because the New Brunswick area has access to two major cities, the community of writers is alive and well, Maron said. This is not true everywhere and is, therefore, the responsibility of this school to keep exposing students and young people to these performances.
“Eileen’s visit was a nice example of what these events are like. We got a little bit of everything. There is something for everybody, not everyone we have is a poet but often times when we have poets they offer something that isn’t poetry,” she said.
People should keep in mind that events like these can create the smallest kernel of inspiration after seeing people truly engulfed in their passion, Maron said. Having people exchange the same energy regardless of academic pursuits, these kinds of things are subtle and exciting.
Tin Le, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said listening to someone read their own poetry is an enlightening experience. Myles gave a brief context before each poem she read, allowing listeners to better understand her thoughts, emotions and experiences.
Often times, students can feel that reading poetry can be cumbersome because they fail to see the point in this type of environment, Le said. People can connect with other listeners and compare how they each handle various types of situations.
Le said that by understanding that every person leads a life as vivid as our own, we can look beyond the inherent differences between one another's and focus on our similarities.
Read like crazy and if someone does not like something, there is not something wrong with them, there is something wrong with it, Myles said.
“I think it’s really important to find work, find writing, that you’re really excited by that makes you want to write. If books are not exciting keep looking for the ones that are. Keep writing in whatever form,” she said.
Christian Zapata is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.