December 7, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 45°F


Writing department begins visiting writers series

Maggie Nelson, a nonfiction writer and poet, gave a public reading 6 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Handwerker Gallery as part of the Department of Writing’s Distinguished Visiting Writers Series.

Catherine Taylor, associate professor of writing, introduced Nelson by reading a few pages from her largely recognized novel “Bluets.”

Taylor said she chose to invite Nelson not only because she loves her work and uses the material to teach classes, but also because of the way that Nelson combines two genres of writing together in her work.

“She works in poetry and nonfiction, but some of her works are a blend of those two things, and I thought that would be very interesting for the students,” Taylor said.

Jacob White, lecturer in the Department of Writing, also uses Nelson’s work in his Introduction to Creative Writing class at the beginning of the semester.

“The students, at the beginning of the semester, are exhilarated by it and seem to be affected,” White said. “They seem to find [‘Bluets’] very affecting and exciting, and it seems to sort of open up all kinds of new possibilities of how and what to do when you’re writing.”

Sophomore Molly Friedeborn found that her Personal Essay course paralleled to the work that Nelson was talking about and reading.

“We’re doing a lot in our class, like talking about memories,” Friedeborn said. “So actually I found a connection with that because she was talking about personal stories and stuff.”

Taylor said the distinguished writers that come to visit don’t simply read to the audience. They also work closely with the students.

“There’s also a writer’s workshop for students who registered for the class,” Taylor said. “They get to have class time with the writers and individual conferences on their own manuscripts.”

Nelson said having other colleagues review your work is helpful during the editing process. She said she finds it helpful to get everything out and then have other people point out areas she can improve.

Nelson also read the first 10 pages of her latest work, “The Argonauts,” which will be published in 2015 by Graywolf Press.

The Department of Writing will welcome poet and literary critic Elizabeth Willis on Feb. 25, and fiction writer Rachel Kushner on March 20.

Taylor Zambrano can be reached at or via Twitter: @tzambra1