Writers as Editors series kicks off the new semester with reading by Lily Hoang

By Lenora Brown

Elm Staff Writer 

On Feb. 4, Associate Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California in San Diego Lily Hoang, was the first to read in the Writers as Editors series, hosted by the Rose’O Neill Literary House and the Sophie Kerr Series. 

“Hoang’s writing makes humans seem both monstrous, and monstrously capable. I mean to say that her characters often encounter their own possibility, and we experience that opening up of agency to her clash of lyric language and strange dramatic situation,” Dr. James Hall, associate professor of English and director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, said in his introduction.

Dr. Hall said she was “a genius” who “puts the ‘imp’ in impossible.”

Hoang read two essays titled “On Violence,” and “On Catastrophe,” both from her essay collection “A Bestiary,” which won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s Non-Fiction Book Prize.

Hoang’s other works include “Parabola,” “The Evolutionary Revolution,” “30 Under 30: An Innovative Anthology by Younger Writers,” “Changing,” which received a PEN Open Books Award, and “Unfinished,” a collection of stories in which Hoang finishes abandoned tales sent to her by fellow authors.

After the reading, the virtual floor was opened to students and staff  to ask questions. 

“When the intensity of emotion becomes too much for me, as the writer, I will switch to the fairy tale as a way to provide respite to me as the writer and for you as the reader,” Hoang said, explaining how and why she uses fairy tales in her work.

Other questions included how to decide on a topic to write about, how much of her daily life she puts into an essay, Hoang’s writing process, and other tips useful to any aspiring writer, no matter where their interests lie.

“Sit in a quiet room for 30 minutes, think hard, clutter yourself with thoughts, and an epiphany will happen every 15 minutes, it’s fantastic,” Hoang said.

The second installment of the Writers as Editors series will be a reading by Mary Wood Fellow on Tuesday, March 9, at 5:30 p.m. 

To register for Fellow’s reading or see what other events the Literary House has planned, visit their page on the Washington College website. https://www.washcoll.edu/learn-by-doing/lit-house/events.php

Featured Photo caption: Lily Hoang reading her essay “On Catastrophe” from “A Bestiary,” her collection of essays. Photo by Izze Rios.

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