Carrie Jerrell, MSU English Professor and Author, Discusses the Creative Writing Program’s Fall Reading Series

The Murray State Creative Writing Program is hosting another series of fall readings featuring authors like Silas House, Crystal Wilkinson and others. Austin Carter talks to English teacher Dr. Carrie Jerrell about the upcoming series which will debut with Silas House on Thursday, September 8.

“[House] is here as part of the Clinton and Mary Opal Moore Appalachian Writers’ Residency, which is a gift given to us by the children of Clinton and Mary Opal Moore,” says Jerrell. “Clinton and Mary Opal Moore grew up in Eastern Kentucky but moved to Paducah. Their children wanted to establish a gift that would connect the two parts of the state because sometimes one can feel quite distant from each other. They wanted to do it through literature.”

House is releasing a new novel titled Ascending Lark, continues Jerell. “This book follows a character, Lark, in the not so distant future who is forced to leave America due to climate change. It delves into our relationship with family, what we call home. He immigrates to Ireland, which is one of the few counties in this future scenario that still have immigrants from other countries. So I think that’s a really fascinating way to think about our region and where we are now, but also about the effect that things happening now could have in the future.”

The second reader in the series will be Crystal Wilkinson, who will read excerpts from two different works on Thursday, September 15. “One is his last novel, The birds of opulence, which is a series of related stories. It covers several generations of families and family members who live in a southern town called Opulence. These black families are intertwined; they have all kinds of secrets. Thus, the novel explores these relationships. And Crystal is such a lyrical writer, so these are really beautifully written stories.”

“The other collection she will probably read is perfect black, which is his most recent work. It’s a collection of poetry that I think is very personal to him. He follows his family, his own upbringing and explores many themes similar to what we see in Birds but through those forms of poetry that are truly accessible, approachable and beautiful.”

“Our third event will be in November,” Jerrell said. “Donald Quist is coming. He has written several books of essays and a book of short stories. His work has been compared to James Baldwin. He writes about identity and life abroad as a black American.”

“There can be something magical about hearing the writer express what they’ve written in a way they’ve imagined,” Jerrell concludes. “The inflection they use, the body language they have, the context they give. They can give you stories behind the stories – how it happened or the experience that brought them to the writing. It offers both the listener and the audience member a deeper appreciation. It’s a richer experience for sure.

The schedule for the MSU Creative Writing Program Fall Reading Series is as follows:
Thursday, September 8 @ 7:30 p.m. | Curris Center Ballroom: Silas House
Thursday, September 15 @ 7:30 p.m. | Curris Center Ballroom: Crystal Wilkinson
Wednesday 9 November | Place and time to be determined: Donald Quist

For more information on the reading series or creative writing program, visit their website or Facebook page.