Monday, February 28, 2011

Jenny 2 Readings by Three Talented CW Faculty

Last Wednesday, I had the fortune of seeing GW English professors Michelle Brafman, Mary Tabor and Lisa Page, in a reading that displayed an amazing array of talent. The three writers, also fiction and creative writing professors in the GW Creative Writing department, were part of a series of readings entitled "Jenny 2," in conjunction with the Jenny McKean Moore Fellowship Foundation.

Prof. Michelle Brafman

Prof. Brafman, who gave the first reading of the series, was actually my creative writing professor last semester, and is currently my fiction writing professor this semester. Although I had never read any of her works, I was astounded with the reading she gave of her incredible short story, "Washing the Dead," an excerpt of the novel she is currently working on of the same name. Inspired by both her previous work as a filmmaker and a visit to a waterpark with her family, the story explores a mother's struggle right before she is about to have an exceedingly difficult conversation with her daughter. Exploring the different outcomes of the conversation through the lens of an independent film the woman formulates in her mind, the story utilizes attentive details in regard to lighting, specific actors and soundtrack, making it incredibly rich and intriguing.

Prof. Mary Tabor

Instead of jumping into the reading, Prof. Mary Tabor spoke first about her journey in finding herself as a writer, and everything that happened in between that inspired her to write her book (Re)making Love: A Sex After Sixty Story. "The writer must crush him or herself, and say the unsayable," she advised the audience, while exploring where her writing came from. She read an excerpt from her memoir, a beautiful, intricately written piece about her relationship with her ex-husband. This story particularly struck me, as music played a heavy influence in the riveting story, especially with her personification of the piano. I was also found myself admiring Tabor's optimistic outlook, and being able to openly speak about difficult life experiences. I found her parting words to be particularly inspiring: "If my husband hadn't left me, I would have never embarked on this journey."

Prof. Lisa Page

The third and final reader, Prof. Lisa Page, read a compelling piece about childhood. A recent nominee for GW's Professor of the Year, awarded annually by GW student-athletes, she was asked to write a piece for the Children's Defense Fund. Utilizing her creative abilities, she was able to implement attributes from her childhood, as well as cultural and societally significant topics. Her piece "Psychedelic Shack," named after a song by The Temptations, brought back a whirlwind of nostalgia. "Childhood is like a myth--we idealize it and believe in its magic," she began, going into her experience growing up in the south side of Chicago in the late 1960s. With mentions of Martin Luther King, 45s and penny loafers, Page's story was a wonderful piece combining the cultural and the individual and personal, with the thread of childhood experience underlying the story.

This trio of talented writers were all part of a phenomenal reading- stay tuned for more readings soon!

- Paula

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