English professors share original works

Students, whether creative writers or not, filed into the Robinson Room and filled the small section of Special Collections that houses the Visiting Writers Series throughout the school year. On Tuesday, Feb. 24, the Robinson Room hosted the Edwin Kenney Memorial Reading, honoring the past English professor who died at the age of 50 from cancer. Kenney attended Hamilton College for undergrad and joined Colby’s faculty in 1968.

It was fitting then that five of Colby’s own creative writing professors read from their own work as a celebration of the newest Visiting Assistant Professor of English/Creative Writing: Lewis Robinson.

Robinson started the reading with his fiction, sharing an excerpt of a short story. After the talk, various students commented that they loved his writing and found it especially funny. The excerpt told the story of a male college student who left his small liberal arts college in the northeast to visit a friend in Northern California with the intention of dropping out of college completely. As a fellow professor pointed out, the excerpt immediately placed all of the characters in trouble, adding to the suspense in the piece.

Associate Professor of English Adrian Blevins started her portion of the reading by reciting a quotation from Yeats that any student who has had her in the past would recognize: “When we argue with the world you make rhetoric; when we argue with ourselves we make poetry.” She informed the audience that while for many years she has agreed with that quotation and felt that her poetry has always been personal and never political, she thinks she may be changing her mind about the quotation. Blevins is never shy to admit that she contradicts herself, adding to her ability to relate to college students who are in the midst of navigating ever-changing ideas about the world. Her changing idea about Yeats’ quotation also follows her into her work. She is in the process of working on a new book and feels that the political has slipped into the personal.

Professor of English Michael Burke read two of his pieces, telling the audience that his Creative Nonfiction class would be discussing the piece the following day. He shared both pieces with the intention to share two different types of creative nonfiction. The following reader, Zacamy Professor of EnglishPeter Harris, commented that it was fitting for a nonfiction writer to read at the event in honor of Kenney who was a nonfiction writer himself. Kenney was known for his biographies, essays, and memoir pieces.

The next professor, Peter Harris, read five of his poems including one in praise of iceberg lettuce and a poem listing names for a classroom, gathering many laughs along the way. Debra Spark, a fiction professor, read an excerpt of one of her pieces that followed a girl who was new in college and had a boyfriend for the first time. One student after the talk remarked that the piece felt incredibly relatable.

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