Dynamic duo to bring poetry to life

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Chelsea and Mark Wagenaar will be reading their poetry on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the Griffin Center. Prose writer Michael Martone will be presenting his work at. Oct. 4 at 4:30 p.m. in the Traditions Longue.

Casey Pycior said there is something special about hearing poetry read aloud.

“I know that sounds kind of over the top but it’s true,” the assistant professor of English said. “You’ll never know which readings will be great, especially poetry. Hearing the poets perform or read their own work is a special experience. It can’t really be replicated. You can read their work and enjoy it but hearing them read their own poems is a special experience.”

Southern Indiana Reading Series will host readings from Chelsea and Mark Wagenaar at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the Griffin Center.

Mark is an assistant professor at Valparaiso University and author of three award-winning poetry books, including his most recent publication “Southern Tongues Leave Us Shining.”

His wife Chelsea also teaches at Valparaiso University. Chelsea was the winner of the 2013 Philip Levine Prize and the 2018 Michael Waters Poetry Prize for her books “Mercury Spurs the Bone” and soon-to-be-released “The Spinning Place.”

Pycior said the Southern Indiana Review has published both Chelsea and Mark’s poems.

Pycior described Mark’s poems written in personas that embody characters and Chelsea’s poems as more personal in first person narrative.

Pycior said he picks authors in hopes of giving students the ability to meet authors and learn how to improve their own writing.

“I try to tell students that they should attend these readings because something special can happen when you witness great writers reading their works,” Pycior said. “It can be transformative.”

Pycior said the reading series is all about students interacting with writers and trying to make professional writers as available as possible. Even though professors are writers too, Pycior said it feels different when the university hosts authors.

“There will be times when your professor might say something, and a visiting writer will say virtually the same thing,” Pycior said. “But it will click when it comes from someone else and that’s great.”

Sara Deal said as both a student and writer, it’s a wonderful opportunity to have published authors at the university.

“I’m extremely proud of that fact,” the senior English major said. “Not every university offers these kinds of resources. To have the opportunity to go and interact with people who are not a part of the university but are willing to come and speak with us during their busy schedules is amazing. It’s one of those things where you are kind of awestruck because you get to meet a superstar at the school.”

Deal said she is interested to hear how the poems sound when the authors read with the emotions they are trying to convey compared to reading it in her head.

After the reading, there will be a Q & A, book signing and time for students and community members to meet the authors.  

“It’s an opportunity for all students, but especially for creative writing students, to rub elbows with professional writers and ask all those questions you never get to ask,” said Pycior.

The reading series will also host prose writer Michael Martone at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Traditions Longue. Martone has visited the university previously and will be returning for his Indiana tour.

Originally from Fort Wayne, Martone often writes about Indiana in his fiction and nonfiction works. Martone will be reading from his essays titled “Brooding” and “The Moon Over Wapakoneta: Fictions and Science Fictions from Indiana and Beyond.”