Humanities Day 2012: Three creative writers show beauty of writing through reading aloud

U of C professors read their memoirs, anecdotes, and poetry.

By Emma Dries

Three U of C creative writing instructors read aloud from their recently published work which ranged from memoir to poetry during “The Art of Writing Through Reading” as part of Humanities Day on Saturday.

Up first was Rachel DeWoskin, a visiting lecturer on the Committee of Creative Writing, who read from her memoir Foreign Babes in Beijing, in which she ruminates on her time spent as a soap actress in China and the culture clash she encountered every day. The memoir is currently being developed as a series for HBO.

In one anecdote, DeWoskin described a love scene shot between her and her male co-star and the embarrassment she felt when she was told to disrobe. DeWoskin didn’t like the idea that she would be the only one shedding her clothes in a room full of predominantly male crew members. And so, in a shocking display of solidarity, “Director Yao unbuckled his pants and dropped them to the floor,” she read

Megan Stielstra, visiting lecturer on the Committee on Creative Writing, and literary director at 2nd Story, a story-telling collective, read next. Stielstra moved backwards in time from her ovarian “tumor the size of a tangerine” six weeks after the birth of her son, to an unsettling experience in college with a psychic who said “you are broken.” Though Stielstra didn’t believe—and didn’t want to believe—the psychic’s predictions that there was something wrong with her, those three words haunted her for over a decade.

It wasn’t until the tumor was out and she was in the clear that her doctor told her if it wasn’t for her son and the required post-partum check-up, they very well may not have caught the tumor in time. “I am in awe of the power of little things,” Stielstra read. It was the little things, from the tumor to her toddler son who now thinks he is Superman, that made her think she could believe in something bigger than herself.

Closing out the session, visiting lecturer Leila Wilson read a number of short poems from her book The Hundred Grasses. Wilson’s poetry selections dwelled on the sensory experience of landscape and nature, often touching on ephemeral quality of natural light. “We trample light between us,” read one poem. “You can’t hold splendor in a squint / You can’t sand a view so bent,” read another.