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Live reading shapes fiction

Ben's Boombox

By Ben Meinking
On March 11, 2014

Reading words on a page can be both imaginative and, at times, a bit difficult; only the writer knows how the words should be read and how to correctly say the sentences. Writers publish books, stories and poems after many drafts and public readings. What the public readings do for the writer is give the words a life; while the writer reads his or her piece, he takes note of which sentences make the audience laugh or react in some way. Everyone wants to be the comedian, but it's really hard to be funny on paper.

Last Thursday at the Leonard Theater in Peabody Hall, two lovely writers read pieces from their newly-published collection of short stories of fiction. Tessa Mella read from her collection, "Lungs Full of Noise," which is the winner of the 2013 Iowa Short Fiction Award. She told the story of a group of sisters who lived in a house that eventually gets swallowed up by the tide. As they wait for the return of their mother, their food runs thin and their mind runs in that direction too. This story is printed in her collection surrounded by many others and her book can be purchased at the bookstore.

The closing reader was David James Poissant; the author of the Simon & Schuster published collection, "The Heaven of Animals." David was kind enough to read two stories for the audience. First, he read an unpublished story simply titled, "The Story." It told the story of a "story" with personifying language of revisions and drafts and how a story can go into the world a boy waiting to become a man. The writing puns continue as the story meets a poem and they have a baby. This is surely one story I can't wait to read again. The second story David read was about a man who is visited by a personified wolf, the spirit of his dead brother. It was an interesting take on how gifts can be exchanged and how much a gift can really mean to someone. The most expensive gifts are nice but the ones filled with love can mean so much more.

Both authors graduated from the University of Cincinnati and managed to make a trip up to Miami for their debut tour. Professors clouded the theater with their presence but the majority of the audience was students, many of whom attended the program to check off a mandatory appearance to such an event. The students left the reading with more insight than they could have hoped for. Back in the classrooms, they will have an idea of how their own writing can one day be read to such a crowd, influencing the young aspiring writers who sat in the same seats as they did.

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