The Visiting Writers series welcomed Anders Carlson-Wee, winner of the 2017 Poetry International Prize, March 13 in the J.W. Jones Student Union Living Room.
The aim of the series is to promote diversity, creativity and freedom of expression as a living and meaningful art form.
More than 70 people came to the event listening to Carlson-Wee’s poems based on his life experiences of dumpster diving and train hopping. Students also watched a 15-minute short film of these experiences alongside his brother Kai.
Agricultural science and therapeutic recreation junior Kayla Miller had never been to a writer’s series event before.
“I really enjoyed my first time here as Anders had an awesome way of expressing his stories, and I loved listening to every single second of it,” Miller said. “It has definitely inspired me to come to more writers events in the future.”
Carlson-Wee released his new book, “The Low Passions,” March 12, and his work has appeared in Buzzfeed and Poetry Daily.
Miller said she was inspired by the event and Carlson-Wee’s style of narrative.
“It was interesting to see the way people tell stories and listen to how they communicate their feelings, and it was cool to see his background being brought into the poems of his wild, crazy life,” Miller said.
However, Carlson-Wee wasn’t always into writing.
“I actually grew up rollerblading and was a professional rollerblader during my teen years, and I also have a fascination with Neanderthals and human evolution,” Carlson-Wee said. “It was only till college that I fell in love with writing and a woman named Mary Cornish brought writing to life for me in a way I have never experienced.”
Carlson-Wee said he developed a passion for writing through his life experiences as he recited poems about his childhood growing up in a church setting.
“As my parents were both pastors, I would listen to their ceremonies every week, and they both preach in a personal narrative style where they weave stories into the text to make it more sacred,” Carlson-Wee said. “When I took the writing class in college, my experiences helped me build visuals for my poems.”
Miller said she didn’t think the event would be enjoyable, but she found it a good learning experience.
“I actually came for an extra credit opportunity in my intro to lit class, but I ended up loving every second of it and I would recommend other people to come,” Miller said.
Carlson-Wee said aspiring writers should accept failure, as success doesn’t come easily.
“Writing is a long process, and it takes time to be success driven, and people need to find a way to not succeed in a traditional sense and try something different,” Carlson-Wee said. “Have time to do your own things, as everyone experiences failure in life. Once you know how to fail, it’ll make you more determined to become successful independently.”
The Department of Language, Literature and Writing sponsors the series, alongside Green Tower Press and Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corporation USA.