Today@Sam Article

End-Of-Semester Readings To Highlight Graduate Student, Alumni Work

April 26, 2016
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Story by Scott Kaukonen

It has become its own rite of spring. After a semester of weekly meetings in the dining room of the Wynne Home Arts Center, the graduate students in Scott Kaukonen’s fiction writing workshop will invite the public to listen to their work before all depart for the summer.

The Sam Houston State University graduate students—as well as recent alumni of the English department’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, editing, and publishing—will host the Wynne Home Readings on Monday (May 2), Thursday (May 5) and on May 9.

Wynne Readings posterThe seventh annual readings, which are free and open to the public, will begin each evening at 6 p.m.

“We spend the semester in a certain critical mode. That’s the role of the workshop,” said Kaukonen, director of the MFA program at SHSU. “The students bring their writing to the class, and the writer must sit silently while he or she listens to a group of smart readers discuss the story or the novel excerpt as a piece of literature. We’re tough on those stories, because good readers are tough, and writing well is difficult, far more difficult than most people realize.

“So in holding these readings we put the work in a different context, and we get the chance to celebrate the work that has been done and the progress that each writer is making. Because as challenging as the art and craft of fiction writing might be, each of these students has talent, and the work they’ll share reveals that.”

This year’s readings will be spread over three nights and will not only feature current members of Kaukonen’s graduate fiction workshop, but also Kim Davis, Alec Brewster, and Nathan Ridings, who became the first graduates of the MFA program last year, and Brian McWilliams, who finished his Master of Arts degree in creative writing.

“I’ve always felt fortunate to be able to hold these workshops in this space,” Kaukonen said. “We’re not in a faceless academic room with white walls and generic desks and plastic seats. The setting provides an intimacy that’s more akin to a salon. We’ve gathered around the old dining room table to talk shop—and our shop talk just happens to involve fiction writing.”

This year’s members of the workshop include Timothy Bardin, Laura Brackin, Elizabeth Evans, Cody Harrison, Mike Hilbig, Chenelle John, Julian Kindred, Jen Parker, John Roane, Stephanie Rodriguez, Bridget Schabron, and Jenny Seay. Five or six writers will read each night for roughly 10 minutes apiece.        

“The fiction to be shared will cover a range of genres—thrillers, cyberpunk, domestic realism, spy, experimental, literary,” Kaukonen said. “The readings reflect the range of work being explored by our graduate students.”           

This semester’s class examined the boundaries of genre, not only discussing their own work, but the fiction of writers who revisit, revise, subvert, and reinvent familiar genres, such as the detective story, the vampire story, the Western, and science fiction.         

“As writers, we’re always trying to make things new, even if we’re always telling the same old stories—of love and desire, of grief and loss, of death and redemption,” Kaukonen said. “It never gets old.”

For more information, contact Kaukonen at 936.294.1407 or kaukonen@shsu.edu.

 

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