Annual Faculty Reading 2019
By Emily Smith
A defining aspect of AU’s MFA program is its close relationship between faculty and students, both past and present. The Annual Faculty Reading, held this past Wednesday night at 826 DC, is the embodiment of this communal spirit. MFA faculty, current students, prospective students, and alumni arrived to honor this annual tradition of socializing among peers and listening to the work of our writing mentors.
Dolen Perkins-Valdez introduced the night in honor of 826 DC, a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding students ages 6-18 in developing writing techniques through workshops and other literary outreach events.
Sarah Trembath was the first faculty writer to present work, igniting the room with her essay “Letter to Gentry in C.C.” The essay is part of her new book, This Past Was Waiting for Me. Rachel Snyder was up next, reading a haunting excerpt from her forthcoming book No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, due out May 7th. Dolen Perkins-Valdez shared a piece of flash fiction about winter and loss, appropriate for the freezing temperatures outside that night. Patti Park proceeded to warm the room with her short story about a son attempting to recreate his mother’s empanadas. Perhaps the most touching moment of the night however came from David Keplinger, who shared an anecdote about his friend, the late Mary Oliver, and read three poems. Stephanie Grant shared her own poignant poem “Things That Disgust Me.” The event concluded with Kelly Forsythe’s reading of three poems from her book Perennial.
At the conclusion of the reading, Dolen Perkins-Valdez took to the podium again to ask all prospective students to stand. As the audience clapped for the program’s next generation, it was difficult not to stare around the room at students, both current and former, and the faculty that helped mold them and not feel the love from this supportive community.
If you would like to volunteer or donate to 826 DC, please visit their website.
Photo: Jordan Bissell
Emily Smith is a guest contributor at Café MFA and a first-year candidate in American University’s Creative Writing MFA program.