Members of the Trent and Peterborough communities were treated to an intimate evening with Giller Award nominee Sarah Selecky last night at Traill College. Ms. Selecky, a Trent Alumnus, charmed the packed common room with her memories of Trent and with a reading from her critically acclaimed collection of short stories, This Cake is for the Party.
The evening, a part of the English Literature Department’s ‘Writers Reading Series,’ also acted as the official launch of the Trent English Students Society (TESS).
According to Ms. Selecky, her return to Trent brought back a flood of memory and helped her realize the roots of her success in writing.
“After getting into Peterborough earlier,” she told the crowd. “I was brought to [professor] Molly Bythe’s home – her living room, the place where she held her seminars. And I was sitting in the chair where I used to sit for class, with the same tea mug that I used back then. And it became crystal clear for me. It was what I learned about language in Molly’s class – what I learned about theory – that ultimately shaped my methodology as a writer.”
While she is primarily known as a writer – This Cake was also awarded CBC’s Best New Writer Award – Selecky is becoming known as an accomplished teacher of creative writing. This became apparent after her reading, as she took some time for one-on-one interactions with students currently covering her book in class.
“It is inspiring to meet someone who has had the success that she has,” explained Grace Dempsey of meeting Ms. Selecky. “The ability to ask questions and personal advice – the chance to interact with someone who has come from where you are now and is working at her level – that’s pretty rare.”
Her eagerness to engage was not lost on Professor Blyth.
“Sarah brought energy and a good deal of humour to seminars with her,” she recalls. “She was one of those individuals who make the entire course that much better to be a part of.”
A reception marking the launch of TESS followed in the Trend.
“These events – the Writers Reading Series and TESS – are so important to both students and the community,” reported Margaret Steffler, chair of English Literature. “They offer a wonderful level of engagement. They breathe life into works of literature and literary discourse that are not necessarily found in the classroom."
Fourth-year student Madalyn Howitt has been attending the Speakers Series regularly. “It’s a wonderful way to be introduced to the work of current authors – both from Peterborough and from afar,” she says. “And it opens up dialogue between students, writers, professors, and members of the community.”
“What better way to celebrate Canadian literature than to engage in it on a first-hand basis,” she continues. “And then to discuss it afterwards over food and drink.”
For more information on the Writers Reading Series, please visit: http://www.trentu.ca/english/events_writersreading.php
Please visit http://www.sarahselecky.com/ for more information on Sarah Salecky’s work.
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2012.