Susquehanna faculty read personal works on self, the earth

By Kelsey Rogers, Asst. Living & Arts Editor

Associate professors of creative writing at Susquehanna gave readings of their newly published works on Nov. 27 in Isaacs Auditorium.

Silas Dent Zobal featured his novel “The People Of The Broken Neck” and Karla Kelsey featured her book of essays “Of Sphere” as part of the Seavey Reading Series hosted by the Writer’s Institute.

Zobal’s “The People Of The Broken Neck” was published in 2016 and depicts the story of a family hiding in the darkness of the woods as the FBI searches their house.

The family is suddenly on the run, providing readers with perspectives from both the father and the detective in the criminal investigation.

After reading fragments of the novel, Zobal read an essay that was originally supposed to be about craft.

“I really don’t like craft essays,” Zobal said. “So it’s mostly about me.”

Zobal’s essay “On The Impoverished World” displays the many obstacles a young Zobal encounters while growing up

in poverty with his younger brother. Being raised in such a rough upbringing has led this boy to not give his all in other elements of his life and hold onto things until the very last moment, according to Zobal.

“Be generous. Give of yourself. Breathe deeply. Have faith,” Zobal said in his essay when explaining advice the narrator would give to his former self.

Zobal also read a snippet from Sylvia Plath’s “Stings” as a connection to his hobby of beekeeping.

Zobal is a recipient of the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and a scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He has also received a fiction fellow- ship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Zobal’s short story collection “The Inconvenience of the Wings” received a Kirkus Star for experimental merit. His other short stories have appeared in publications such as The Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, New Orleans Re- view and Shenandoah.

Raised in Rockford, Illinois, Zobal earned a bachelor’s degree in English from DePaul University and a master’s degree from the University of

Washington. He also earned a doctorate from Binghamton University.

Kelsey’s “Of Sphere” was published on Nov. 1 and features essays and lyrical prose from multiple spheres.

“Its organized along the different spheres of earth,” Kelsey said. “I added a fifth sphere, celestial sphere, which goes beyond the earth.”

Kelsey read a section called “the Celestial Sphere,” but began with reading the notes that coincide with each sphere before leading into the prose.

“Of Sphere” uses sculptures or locations that Kelsey has seen and derives a story from them, focusing on how the story sounds to the reader and the emotions that they feel.

According to Kelsey’s website, “Of Sphere” provides a form of theater where the writer has limited agency, which then prompted her to use various techniques of imagination and research.

Kelsey said her work in this specific genre looks to the traditions of lyric essay, philosophical meditation, poetics and review criticism.

Along with her most recent publication, Kelsey has published three full length books: “Knowledge,” “Forms, the Aviary; Iteration Nets;” and “A Conjoined Book.”

Kelsey has also published three chapbooks: “Little Dividing Doors in the Mind,” “Into the Eyes of Lost Storms” and “3 Movements.”

Kelsey is a recipient of the Fulbright lectureship and has taught creative writing along with American literature in Budapest.

Kelsey is also an editor for The Constant Critic, an online publication which features poetry reviews.

Kelsey received bachelor’s degrees from the University of California in literature and philosophy and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa, where she was a teaching-writing fellow. She also received her doctorate from the University of Denver.

Associate professor of English and creative writing, Glen Retief said that when he began interviewing to work at Susquehanna, he immediately felt the seriousness of his colleagues.

“They were committed to writing. They wrote regularly. They published regularly,” Retief said. “I admired them so much, and I still do today.”

First-year Madison Blackwell said the readings helped her connect more with the authors.

“I didn’t know what to epect from Silas, but I really en- joyed his. I don’t have him as a professor yet so now I’m even more excited to have him as a professor,” Blackwell said. “I have Karla for intro to poetry and it just made me so much more appreciative.”

The next installment of the Seavey Reading series will feature Aminatta Forna on Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Isaacs Auditorium.

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