The English Department’s bi-annual, Visiting Writer event, took place on Nov. 19, Wednesday afternoon. This semester’s event featured not one, but two authors: Corinna Vallianatos and Kevin Moffett.
The event lasted just under two hours, featuring Fullerton College’s own student writers right alongside the featured authors. Their readings were followed by a brief Q&A; session with Vallianatos and Moffett.
Vallianatos received the 2011 Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction for her story collection, “My Escapee,” which was also New York Times’ Book Editors Choice.
Vallianatos stories can be found in Tin House, McSweeney’s, Storyville, Epoch and more.
Moffett is a recipient of the Nelson Algren Award, the National Magazine Award, the Pushcart Prize and a literature fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts.
Moffett was author for two short story collections, “Further Interpretation of Real Life Events” and “Permanent Visitors,” which won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Both writers reside in Claremont, Calif.
Vallianatos read her newest story entitled, “Visitation.” The short story traces the decline of a divorced couple, Kurt and Bernadette and their dwindling post-hollywood lives.
Vallianatos said the story is still in the works and reading it aloud, allowed her to see which parts she would still like to edit.
Moffett took a break from reading his newer stories and instead shared one of his earliest works titled “Ursa, on Zoo Property and Off.”
“It was the first story I’d written that I’d thought ‘Hey, I kinda like this,'” Moffett chuckled.
Found in his collection, “Permanent Visitors,” the story is witty, poignant at times and drenched with sharp humor, eliciting laughter from the audience throughout the reading. “Permanent Visitors,” was Moffett’s first story to be published.
The audience had the opportunity to have their questions answered directly by the authors, following the reading in an open Q&A; session.
Questions ranged from, the authors’ favorite books to deeper inquiries on the viewpoints of the nature of literature and writing.
“[Writing] is altruistic when you’re deeply channeling the point of view of your characters,” Vallianatos said. “You’re putting yourself in their shoes and understanding why they do the things that they do, even when they’re unlovable, so that makes it an act of altruism.”
Aspiring writers in the audience sought advice for their own careers.
“99 percent of it is keeping your butt in the chair,” Moffett said. “And surround yourself with people who aren’t going to feed your doubt. Read a lot; philosophy, history, literature; read everything.”
Four Fullerton College student writers also took to the stage to share their works. Macy Jenkins shared her poetry, followed by Brian Heim, who recited his short Beat poem. Dani Cramer shared her creative nonfiction and Kristen DaSilva ended the student recital on a strong note with her powerful spoken word pieces.
This was English major Diana Perez’s third time attending the event and she feels satisfied with her experience every time.
“These [Visiting Writer] events are so rewarding to me,” Perez said. “Not only do I get to hear from amazing writers, it helps me gather inspiration for my own writing as well. Even if you’re not an English major, anyone can benefit from a good reading.”
The English and Humanities Departments work hard every semester to bring a different visiting writer to the Fullerton campus. For updates on the next visiting writer, visit the English Department website at english.fullcoll.edu/events.htm.