By Emily Janssen
“What I love about the Visiting Authors is that you get to hear their works in their voice,” said Joseph Galbreath, class of 2018, “…which I really enjoy and it always leaves me speechless, especially when I’m in the class where a text from that author is used.”
The English Department brings two writers (one poet and one prose) a semester. The readings are at 7:30 on Wednesday nights normally at Lane Library.
The program is a long-standing tradition for the college.
“[I’m] not sure who started it, but David Graham ran it for 28 years,” Megan Gannon, Assistant Professor of English, said. “In the beginning he had very little money to run it, and then the Shang Family Visiting Writers Fund was established … and that provided more money for bringing in more authors.”
Professor Gannon believes these readings have many benefits for students.
“Essentially [a creative writing or literature student] could be making professional contacts still as an undergraduate,” Gannon said, “but also [it’s] broadening your perspective, it’s getting you connected with the wider world outside of Ripon College, and giving you a sense of the conversation that’s going on among contemporary writers.”
This semester two writers will be coming to campus. Emily Danforth, author of “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”, came to Ripon on February 15. “Her book is a queer coming of age story so a lot of our students in the LGBTQ community would hopefully be really interested in hearing her,” Professor Gannon said.
The other writer is Tomás Morín. His is a poet who will be coming April 12. “…His second book of poetry will be published the day before he comes, so that’s kind of exciting. It’s kind of like, ‘Whoo-hoo! The grand world premiere in Ripon, Wis.’” Professor Gannon said. “So we’ll [hear] some of his poems, but also he’ll read some of his translation and talk about his translation.”
Last year, Galbreath went to Madison to see author Junot Diaz but found himself missing the readings at Ripon.
“It was like this entire auditorium where it was just absolutely packed and it wasn’t that personal,” he said “but just the other night when [Emily Danforth]…I went up and I was just having a conversation with…Professor Gannon and the author was just sitting there and she chimed in and the three of us were just having a conversation.”