Creative writing fellows present their work in MFA fiction and poetry showcase

An unusually high concentration of tweed jackets, horn-rimmed glasses and strange hairstyles gathered Thursday evening at the Overture Center for the Arts to hear the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and Poetry Fellows read their works. Mark Wagenaar, Mika Taylor, Karyna McGlynn, Jordan Jacks and Josh Kalscheur were this year’s fellows, and each performed some of their published works or works in progress. 

The relatively small venue seemed a fitting place, the smooth wood and minimal accents of the Wisconsin Studio making the room seem like the inside of some environmentally conscious spaceship. The audience was attentive as the first fellow, Kalscheur, took the podium and began to read his poems.

Kalscheur’s poetry was wonderfully dark and plotting, drawing in the audience with a more serious tone of voice and a contemplation of the deeper things in life.

Next, Taylor shared a passage from a novel she is currently working on, which centers around quintuplets in Canada. Delightful and somber, she selected several passages from the novel to perfectly demonstrate its content and her style.

After Taylor, Wagenaar shared some of his poetry. More wordy than Kalscheur’s at times, Wagenaar's had a strong theme and connection to the constellations. He also shared a superhero-inspired piece, doubling as a reflection on love.

Jacks was next, who shared a passage from his novel in the works. The novel is about a journalist trying to interview an eccentric and reclusive author, and the struggles that come along with it. 

Finally, McGlynn came to the front to share some of her poems dealing with love, breakups and Prince. McGlynn brought a lighter air to the podium that wrapped up the event nicely.

One of the things that really made this reading special was the different forms, as well as the different styles. The juxtaposition of prose and poetry created nice variation that flowed well with the audience throughout the showcase. The styles of the fellows were truly phenomenal, swinging from dark with Kalscheur to thoughtful with Wagenaar and finishing with humorous and quick with McGlynn.

As the reading ended, audience members gathered to chat and congratulate the fellows. The atmosphere was friendly and warm as the room emptied into the warm Madison evening. Inspired, I left wishing that there were more events more often like this to showcase our campus' creative writing talent.

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