Marshall Hosts Guest Writers Event – The Parthenon

Poet Donika Kelly and essayist Mellissa Febos from the University of Iowa came as part of the AE Stringer Guest Writer Series at Marshall University. Both were named finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The writers read their selection of readings on stage at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

Kelly read a handful of poems from her two books Bestiary and Waivers. Bestiary contained many mythological stories about characters from Greek mythology. Kelly said her reasoning for writing so much in this area came from the fact that she was naturally drawn to it and it suited her.

Going on stage, Kelly said she felt nervous from the pressure, that “it doesn’t get old” and that it had been a while since she had taken the stage. After fumbling a few words during one of her poems, Kelly said, “I told you I was out of practice.”

After Kelly read her chosen poems, she thanked her listeners for their attention and the noises and nods she noticed on stage.

Febos has chosen some of his essays to read in his collections abandon me and Youth. Febos said she wanted to read them for college audiences because students could relate to them. She also mentioned that she found herself on the floor crying while writing some of them, so she felt like they would be good for middle school listeners.

Febos told the audience that writing some of these stories about her childhood made her think about who she was. “Sometimes when you write about your childhood, you realize how weird you were,” Febos said.

The evening’s writers filled the auditorium not only with prose and poetry, but also with laughter and smiles of ideas and feelings the two had shared over their time together. Febos started laughing during a tryout, as it reminded him of an impression Kelly could make while eating a watermelon.

Febos also said, “I joked this morning that I was six weasels hiding in a trench coat.”

Rachael Peckham, creative writing professor at Marshall and event coordinator, introduced the writers at the event. She was the one who contacted Kelly and Febos to see if they would come to college.

“For eight months, I held my breath, praying that the visit would not fail in our current circumstances. All that to say, being in a room with them, and with you, is truly a flattering win,” Peckham said.

The writers thanked their listeners and those who brought them to school. Febos told the audience: “Everyone here is so nice. It’s disarming.

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