By Amy Schulman, Layout Assistant ||
The Emerging Writers Festival, a three-day celebration of the work of talented American writers on the cusp of national recognition, took place from April 9 Philadelphia Alumni Writers House and the Green Room Theatre. Five writers, Amy Leach, Christopher Merkner, Caryl Pagel, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Greg Wrenn were chosen to give readings from their books and hold craft talks over the course of three days in order to celebrate the arts at F&M as well as to allow students the opportunity to informally socialize with the writers.
The festival concluded with an open panel discussion in the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House during the afternoon of April 11. The panel commenced with a question from one of the members of the Emerging Writers Festival committee.
“We want to start by asking the writers to give [the students] a piece of advice, since we’re all just starting off our journey. Maybe something you wish someone had told you.”
The five writers reflected briefly before answering.
“My advice to you is to cultivate vulnerability within yourself,” Watkins said. “Find a way to make yourself susceptible to the world around you so that you’re feeling all the time.”
Pagel answered next, stressing the importance of picking a couple of buddies to stick together through the journey.
“Figure out who’s reading your work well,” she said.
Merkner echoed Pagel’s response, saying that even though so much of writing is solitary, there is also a communal side.
“Give yourself time. Failures don’t mean anything,” Merkner concluded.
Wrenn gave two pieces of advice. He advised the crowd to read as much as possible, and to read historical authors as well.
“In order to read,” he said, “you have to unplug. If you’ve got your phone, you’re re-wiring your brain to not pay attention.”
Leach concluded by simply advising, “just keep going.”
The panel was then opened up for questions from the students, who took advantage of the opportunity to ask the writers as many questions as possible.
The panel ended, and the students, professors, and writers made their way to the deck outside the Writers House for a celebratory barbeque and a couple of games of ping-pong.
Sophomore Amy Schulman is a layout assistant. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.