If there’s one thing that has the power to bring a group of bibliophiles together, it is an event that highlights their mutual appreciation for literature. Drexel University students, staff and individuals from the surrounding area, gathered Feb. 18 to recognize each other for their notable writing published in 2018 in an event titled “Celebrating Drexel Authors.”
Poets, novelists, literary translators and Drexel’s very own The 33rd — a student-run publishing group — displayed their collections of essays and written pieces.
The many professors who were in attendance also proudly shared their academic and creative creations.
Harriet Millan, English professor, authored “My Oceanography,” a collection of personal poems. She said the driving force behind her novel was the late sculptor, Eva Hesse — a misunderstood artist and Holocaust survivor.
“I wrote the poems in the book at the time period she was married [and] I channeled her in the book. It’s called ‘My Oceanography’ because it’s a terrain. It’s her imaginative life where it syncs with my life,” Millan said.
Hesse battled with creating a name for herself in the competitive art scene of New York during the 1960s and ’70s, and faced on onslaught of tragedies in her life. Despite eventually carving out a name for herself, the artist died at 34 due to complications with cancer. Millian shared that her unique perspective of fusing elements of her own life with Hesse brought on a motley of assertive feedback.
“One reviewer said it sounded like the [Greek] Furies on fire. Like, a #MeToo outrage,” she said.
The department head of English and philosophy, Roger Kurtz, was also in attendance. Kurtz authored “Trauma and Transformation in African Literature: Writing Wrongs,” an academic perspective on literary trauma studies published by Cambridge University Press.
“This [event] is important because professors maintain their freshness and their currency with the discipline. Consequently, the liveliness of their classes [depends on] staying current. The way you stay current is by writing, publishing, reading and keeping up,” he said. “The fact that you had this many people here doing that sort of thing is a very good sign for Drexel.”
Scott Warnock, director of Drexel’s University Writing Program and a professor of English who co-authored “Measuring Quality, Evaluating Curricular Change: A 7-Year Assessment of Undergraduate Business Student Writing” with Columbia University graduate Nicholas Rouse, also shared an appreciation for the night’s events.
“This is a great event because there is a lot of activity happening here. It’s a really impressive group of journalists, data set authors, book editors and book authors. An event like this really draws attention to the amount of high level scholarly activity at the university,” Warnock said.
Grady Chambers, a recipient of the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize winner for his book “North American Stadiums,” a collection of poems about the history and landscape of the midwest, shared a similar sentiment.
“The event tonight was wonderful. Very, very neat opportunity to meet other authors at Drexel and make connections, and see that some of the other people that I work with are poets and fiction writers,” he said.
As an instructor in Drexel’s first year writing program and a teacher at other Philadelphia universities, he felt it was a delight to see other instructors’ publications as they juggle their creative pursuits with their full-time endeavors as teachers, instructors and professors.
Dasan Lites, a junior studying nursing, also appreciated the work that was was highlighted.
“I thought the seminar was really nice — a good way to celebrate the authors of 2018,” he said.
Disclaimer: Scott Warnock is the faculty advisor for The Triangle.