The Pleiades Visiting Writers Series affords the Warrensburg community the opportunity to experience published literary works not only as they are published, but with the added benefit of interacting with the piece’s creator.
“This is an excellent opportunity,” said Jenny Molberg, coordinator of the Visiting Writers Series and co-editor of Pleiades magazine. “UCM students may not be able to travel to meet writers and hear their work, and it helps the literary community at UCM flourish.”
Phong Nguyen, co-editor of Pleades, said the Visiting Writers Series is important to our rural Midwestern commity.
“The Pleiades Visiting Writers Series is especially important in a rural Midwestern community such as ours,” he said. “Without such a series, these established writers and up-an-coming writers would have no particular reason to visit Warrensburg, Missouri, and UCM.”
Molberg said these writers and poets are of national acclaim, and the series provides attendees an opportunity to speak with the authors and ask them questions.
Denise Elam, a digital media and production major and creative writing and communication studies minor, said she enjoys meeting the writers she learns about in her classes.
“What I love about the Visiting Writers Series is that typically the works of the authors who visit campus are included in the creative writing and English curriculum at UCM,” said
Rebecca Gayle Howell, author of “Render / An Apocalypse” and David Keplinger, author of four collections of poetry including the forthcoming “Another City” will be the writers presenting at the next event at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, in the Gallery of Art and Design in the UCM Art Center.
The last event featured R.M. Kinder, editor emerita and founder of Pleiades, who read from her most recent published work, “The Universe Playing Strings,” and Samuel Ligon, who read from his collection of short stories “Wonderland.”
“In my fiction for publication class, I was required to read Ligon’s ‘Wonderland’ and Kinder’s ‘The Universe Playing Strings,’” Elam said. “After discussing both novels in class, I was able to meet the authors and ask them questions about their works that I had while reading.”
Molberg and Nguyen said these events are of extra benefit to the university’s creative writing students.
“This introduces participants to new literary work,” Molberg said, “and allows students to learn about the real-world lives of writers.”
“One of the most important steps in the development of a writer is to dispel the idea of ‘the writer’ as a distant, almost mythical figure that exists outside of the realm of the ordinary,” Nguyen said. “By their exposure to working writers, student writers learn that they dwell within the same realm as ‘the writer’ and can simultaneously be themselves and be a working writer.”
Molberg said the biggest challenge to hosting the events is funding, especially after the recent campus budget cuts. She said events featuring two writers typically cost around $2,000, depending on the writers and the variable costs of accommodations.
“We are fortunate enough to have support from the English department, the [College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences], the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Missouri Arts Council,” she said.
The Oct. 11 event is co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning.
“I look most forward to meeting the writers, hearing their work, and seeing the students’ enthusiasm as they learn more about the literary world,” Molberg said.