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BU writers and poets share work at Jan. 30 faculty reading

Click on the player at the bottom of this story to hear Jennifer Haigh, a CAS lecturer in creative writing, read from her story “Deadbeat.”

There is pleasure to be found in the sound of words. Just ask the hundreds of people who show up each year to hear BU’s creative writing faculty read from their new works. This year’s reading takes place tomorrow evening in the School of Management.

Sponsored by BU’s Creative Writing Program, one of the country’s oldest, the annual event draws undergraduates and graduate students taking courses with the creative writing faculty, as well as alumni, faculty, and the public.

“Taking part in the reading is always a pleasure,” says Robert Pinsky, a College of Arts and Sciences professor and former U.S. poet laureate. “The excellence and variety of what I hear are inspiring. There isn’t a more distinguished creative writing faculty in the country.”

The readings are short, less than 10 minutes each, and this year seven faculty members and one alumna will read from their new works.

“This is my second year on the creative writing faculty and my second time at the podium,” says Jennifer Haigh, a CAS lecturer in creative writing and a PEN/Hemingway and PEN/Winship award–winning author. “I really enjoy hearing what my colleagues have been writing.” Haigh’s latest story, “Deadbeat,” appears in the current issue of the literary magazine Five Points.

Each year an alum of the program is invited to participate in the reading. Tomorrow Catherine Tudish (GRS’85) will read from her first book, Tenney’s Landing, which was one of three fiction finalists for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers award in March 2006.

“Knowing that I will be in the company of former professors, I feel as if I’ve finally earned my membership card,” Tudish says.

The reading not only showcases the award-winning faculty, but sparks interest in the program’s intensive one-year master’s in creative writing.

“After every reading people come up to ask about the program and how they might apply,” says Leslie Epstein, a CAS professor and director of the Creative Writing Program. Each entering class may have up to 12 fiction writers, 12 poets, and 6 playwrights, chosen from more than 400 applicants.
“One of the best things about the Creative Writing Program was the opportunity to be part of a writing community that included distinguished writers and other students who took writing seriously,” says Tudish. “It helped me focus on my own writing in a way I never had before and to enjoy it at the same time I was setting higher standards for myself.”

The faculty members are prolific. Pinsky’s recent works include The Life of David, a prose book, and First Things to Hand, a chapbook of poetry. Epstein’s 10th novel, The Eighth Wonder of the World, was published last year.

Other faculty scheduled to read include Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Louise Glück, a CAS lecturer in creative writing and another former U.S. poet laureate, who recently published Averno; David Ferry, a CAS lecturer in creative writing and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Ha Jin (GRS’94), who was a student in the program and is now a CAS professor of creative writing and winner of a National Book Award, two PEN/Faulkner Awards, and a PEN/Hemingway Award; and poet, scholar, and translator Rosanna Warren, a University Professor and BU’s Emma Ann MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities.

The reading is on Tuesday, January 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the School of Management auditorium, Room 105, 595 Commonwealth Ave.

Catherine Santore can be reached at csantore@bu.edu.