Visiting Writers Series kicks off its second year

The Visiting Writers Series (VWS), which brought poet Mark Bibbins to the College last year, begins its second year this Thursday with a reading by Mark Halliday, an award-winning poet and professor at Ohio University. The reading will be held at 8 p.m. in Room 202 West of the Student Center. Halliday will be signing books afterwards, and his latest collection, “Jab,” will be available for sale.

Halliday has published three collections of poetry; his book “Tasker Street” won the Juniper Prize in 1992. He was also the 2001 recipient of the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

VWS is one of the major projects of the Writing Communities class. The course, taught by assistant professor Catie Rosemurgy, covers the business aspect of creative writing alongside literature and poetry. Students are responsible for every facet of event-planning, from researching and then inviting writers to booking and publicity. “We have done more to use the authors’ work itself to publicize the events (this year),” Rosemurgy said. “I think we are just a little bit better at everything.” In order to prepare for Halliday’s visit, the class read “Jab” as well as selections from “Selfwolf” and “Tasker Street.”

“While his poems are philosophical and troubling, they are still incredibly fun to read,” Rosemurgy said. Her students are just as enthusiastic about Halliday’s work and his upcoming reading. “Mark Halliday’s poetry is engaging, hysterical and sincere,” Michelle Marrone, senior English and elementary education major, said.

Ryan Knaus, senior English major, agreed. “His poems also manage to be simultaneously heart-breaking and hilarious, which is no small feat,” he said. “I’m excited about the reading because Halliday is one of the best contemporary American poets out there, and there is no substitute for a poet reading their own work.”

And, according to Fernando Monero, junior journalism major, exposure to Halliday’s work has made him a more open-minded reader of poetry.

VWS is sponsored by ink, a campus-wide organization for writers also founded by the Writing Communities class. Future writers in the series include Amy Benson and Dan Pope, both visiting professors at the College. “We hope that everyone will see the VWS as a chance to particate in the arts and in the sort of engaged, lively culture that should be at the center of the college experience,” Rosemurgy said.