There are so many extraordinary writers coming through campus these days that I find it hard to keep up. James Kaplan ’73 came back to campus last week to talk about his new Frank Sinatra biography The Voice. Kaplan was an art major at Wes and has gone on to a distinguished writing career. Alas, I was out of town visiting with alumni, but I hear it was a wonderful reading. Sarah Ruhl, a MacArthur genius award winner whose Vibrator Play shook up Broadway last year, talked to a large crowd in the Chapel. She also met with students who are currently rehearsing her Melancholy Play, directed by Michael Rau ’05. Performances are scheduled for February 24, 25, 26th. How exciting it must have been for the performers to talk with the writer about their interpretation of her work!
The feast continued this week with Liz Lerman reading from her new Wesleyan Press Book, Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer. Liz has been working with Wesleyan students and faculty for years, and it was great to hear from her “notes.” Liz’s artistic practice is predicated on breaking down the boundaries between media and between disciplines. At Wesleyan, she has worked closely with scientists on embodied learning, and this work has resulted in some remarkable dance pieces. Be on the lookout for the performances from her group later this semester.
Tonight, February 16 at 8 in the Chapel, Michael Cunningham will be on campus as the Annie Sonnenblick Lecturer. Cunningham, the author of several novels, including The Hours and the recent By Nightfall, will read from his work and then be on campus for a couple of days to offer master classes for Wesleyan students. It will be thrilling for our young writers to talk with Cunningham about his fiction and his work for film.
These events are just a sample of the creative writing energy that is percolating on campus. The English Department and the Writing Certificate Program, the Koeppel Visiting Professor in Journalism and the Kim-Frank University Writer in Residence are all catalysts for new student writing. On top of it all, Amy Bloom offers regular opportunities in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center to meet together to discuss how to get that sentence just right. Now there’s something I should be attending!