What Comes Next: A recap

As summer draws near, another season of Temple Libraries’ programming has come to an end. Take a look back with us on some of what we offered and watch any of our programs online.

The highlights

The season began with a charge: help stop the cycle of menstrual inequity. In partnership with the Office of Sustainability, we hosted a distinguished panel of speakers who shared their thoughts about the issue. Amani Reid and Nayanka Paul, Temple alumni and representatives from Bloody Btches; Caroline Burkholder from Temple University’s Office of Sustainability; Brittany Robinson from Temple’s Wellness Resource Center; and Dr. Jeni Stolow from the College of Public Health discussed the stigma associated with persons who are menstruating and how to create more welcoming environments. Want to learn more? Dr. Stolow was interviewed in Temple Now about the harm of not talking openly about your period.

In our Chat in the Stacks series, Philly DA Larry Krasner spoke candidly in an interview with Tara N. Tripp, assistant professor in Temple’s Department of Criminal Justice, about the road to reform. Rather read a recap than watch the recording? Check out this coverage by The Temple News. This program series is in collaboration with the Faculty Senate Committee on the Status of Faculty of Color.

Screenshot of Philly DA Larry Krasner
Screenshot of Philly DA Larry Krasner

From there, we moved to a conversation about the future of local and national journalism, moderated by Klein College Dean David Boardman, who spoke with Tracy Davidson of NBC10, Gabriel Escobar of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cherri Gregg of WHYY, and Aron Pilhofer of Klein College of Media and Communication. This program was part of our McLean Contributionship Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Endowed Lecture Series at Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. 

Clockwise from top left: David Boardman, photo courtesy Temple University; Tracy Davidson, photo courtesy NBC10 News; Gabriel Escobar, photo by Jessica Griffin, The Philadelphia Inquirer; Cherri Gregg, photo courtesy WHYY; Aron Pilhofer, photo by Alessio Jacona, “The Whole Picture”

Also on Zoom, the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection hosted a variety of programs, including a two-day celebration of Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday anniversary. Both day 1 and day 2 are available to view. This year, the beloved Bootsie Barnes Jazz Series featured the Alfie Pollitt Quartet and included a special tribute to former WRTI host Harrison Ridley, Jr. 

The Afrofuturism symposium brought scholars, artists, and other practitioners together in person to share their work as it relates to the Afrofuturist aesthetic and Black digital humanities practices and to speculate about the future of cultural heritage preservation. Parts 1 through 7 are available to view.

Afrofuturism symposium photos by Heidi Roland Photography

Exhibits and more

One of our featured exhibits took place in the Charles Library exhibit space. SCRC Staff Picks: What’s Great, New, and Next? highlighted purchases and donations from individuals and organizations that represent collecting strengths, caught staff’s fancy, have already been used for research and instruction—or could provide the ‘next’ research project for a fortunate user. Find out some of what staff had to say in this Temple Now article.

There were also  myriad book club meetings, author talks, and other performances and conversations that took place over this busy semester!

Photos by Joseph V. Labolito for Temple University

This past spring, our programs reached an audience of more than 660 attendees. If you were one of those attendees, or a speaker, or a supporter in any way, THANK YOU! We couldn’t do what we do without you. 

Stay in touch

Have an idea for a future program or are interested in staying connected to see what we have in store for the fall? Connect with us @TempleLibraries on Twitter and Facebook and @tulibraries on Instagram

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon: Improving Content on Cis and Trans Women, the Arts, and Feminism

Did you know that, according to a Wikimedia Foundation 2011 study, less than 10% of the editors on Wikipedia are women? When women aren’t represented in the writing and editing of the stories and records of people, the stories get mistold. We lose out on the real history.

Join us next Tuesday, March 19 from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm for the sixth annual (and Temple University Libraries’ fourth!) Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, a global project improving content on cis and trans women, the arts, and feminism on Wikipedia.

We will provide tutorials for the beginner Wikipedian, reference materials, and refreshments, and invite people of all gender identities and expressions to participate, particularly transgender and cisgender women. We hope you’ll also join us in the evening for a panel discussion on the intersection of art, feminism, technology, and history.

We’re holding the event in the lobby of the Tyler School of Art and the schedule is outlined below:

Registration at 10:00 AM

Training sessions at 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM

Panel at 6:00 PM (in the Architecture Building, Room 104)

Registration is encouraged and please BYO laptop!

An Evening of Poetry at the Libraries

Join us next Wednesday, February 13 at 6:00 pm for an evening of poetry with some of Philadelphia’s most talented young voices. Members from Temple’s own Babel Poetry Collective will read original work and moderate a conversation with the current and former Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureates, Wes Matthews and Husnaa Hashim. Wes and Husnaa will also take the stage to share their poetry with us.

Wes Matthews is a Detroit-born, Philadelphia-based poet and essayist and is currently serving as the 2018-19 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate. He is a 2x Brave New Voices competitor, a 2016 TEDx speaker, and winner of the 2018 Philly Slam League All-Star Poetry Slam. His work has been published in the Detroit Free Press, Eunoia Review, Dreginald Magazine, and elsewhere.

Husnaa Hashim is the 2017-2018 Youth Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, and author of the poetry collection Honey Sequence. She is a first year student at the University of Pennsylvania. Husnaa has competed with the Philly Youth Poetry Movement, performed at various conferences and festivals, and received numerous Scholastic Art and Writing Awards including a National American Voices Medal awarded at Carnegie Hall. Husnaa’s work can be found in RookieMag, KidSpirit Online, the Kenyon Review Young Writers anthology, the Voices of the East Coast anthology, and APIARY 9, among others.

This program takes place in the Paley Library Lecture Hall (ground floor) at 1210 Polett Walk and is free and open to all.

A Look Back at Fall 2018 Beyond the Page Programs

Thanks to those of you who attended and participated in our Beyond the Page public programming series this semester. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in these learning experiences, and we hope to see you again in the spring as continue to explore Access & Opportunity! In the meantime, enjoy this look back at moments from our fall lineup of lectures, workshops, performances, and more.

photo of Sara Goldrick-Rab

photo courtesy Brae Howard

Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab kicks off our fall programming by discussing affordability in higher education, specifically food and housing insecurity.

Participants creating art in wheatpaste workshop

Photo courtesy Brae Howard

Participant pastes art outside Paley Library

Photo courtesy Brae Howard

Participants create and post their art outside Paley Library. The Libraries partnered with Conrad Benner of streetsdept.com and Cindy M. Ngo of Eat Up the Borders to bring local muralists and street artists to Paley Library to discuss their work, art in the public space, access to the arts and art education, and more.


Zach Brock performing

Photo courtesy Brae Howard

Jazz violinist, Boyer Artist-in-Resident, and Grammy winner Zach Brock performs at the Libraries as part of our Beyond the Notes concert series.

Poet Sonia Sanchez

Photo courtesy Bruce Turner

Gold medallion and diamond earring belonging to the late Tupac Shakur

Photo courtesy Bruce Turner

Sonia Sanchez, Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate and a leader in the Black Arts Movement, reads a poem at a donor reception at the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. The Blockson Collection received a historic donation from Goldin Auctions of memorabilia belonging to the late rapper Tupac Shakur. Read more about this important acquisition and see some of materials for yourself on Temple Now.




The Gender Pay Gap: Oct. 15 Author Talk with Yasemin Besen-Cassino

Cover for Yasemin Besen-Cassino's book, The Cost of Being a GirlOn Monday, October 15, Temple University Press author Yasemin Besen-Cassino will be at Temple University’s Paley Library to discuss her book, The Cost of Being a Girl: Working Teens and the Origins of the Gender Wage Gap.

According to her research, the gender pay gap starts with part-time work in the teen years and persists into adulthood.

Yasemin Besen-Cassino is a Professor of Sociology at Montclair State University. Her research focuses on work, gender, and youth and has appeared in many sociology journals such as Contexts, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Theory & Society, NWSAJ, and Education & Society. In addition, her work has been featured in many popular venues such as the Washington Post, the Guardian, The Atlantic, CNN, MTV, Fortune, and Ms. Magazine, and many others.

Photograph of Professor Besen-Cassion

Professor Besen-Cassino

Want to learn more about gender pay gap ahead of Monday’s program? Read about how the gender pay gap affects teens on The Lily and check out Dr. Besen-Cassino’s op-eds on equal pay in The Guardian and in Ms. Magazine.  

This program will be held at 2:00 PM in the Paley Library Lecture Hall. As always, our programs are free and open to all. Registration requested.

Access and Opportunity: Recommended Reading for the Libraries’ Fall Programs

This year, the Libraries’ Beyond the Page public programming series is curated around programs exploring access and opportunity. We will consider barriers—whether cultural, financial, physical, or otherwise—that limit opportunities and how we can move toward a more accessible world.

We’ve rounded up a list of reading suggestions to introduce you to our speakers and some of the topics they’ll cover. Check out our recommendations and we hope to see you this fall!

All these programs will be held in the Paley Library Lecture Hall. As always, our programs are free and open to all.


Investing in Accessibility

Read about why the U.S. needs more accessible playgrounds and this augmented reality project for which Temple’s Institute on Disabilities received funding from the Knight Foundations’ art and technology Prototype Fund to make live theater more accessible for hearing impaired and non-English speakers.


photo of Sara Goldrick-Rab

Sara Goldrick-Rab, photo courtesy Pat Robinson

Sara Goldrick-Rab on Access and Opportunity in Higher Education

Temple Professor and nationally-recognized scholar Sara Goldrick-Rab will speak at the Libraries on Tuesday, September 11 at 6:00 PM. Check out her interview with Trevor Noah and her New York Times op-ed on college students and food insecurity. This recent Philadelphia Inquirer story highlights both Sara’s work and Cherry Pantry, Temple’s campus food pantry.

Other reads to help you prepare for Sara’s talk and conversations about the cost of higher ed include this Fortune article about women’s disproportionate share of student loan debt and the even greater financial burden placed on black women.


The Public Arts in Philadelphia

photo of Conrad Benner

Conrad Benner, photo courtesy Peter Murray

Conrad Benner of StreetsDept.com and Cindy M. Ngo of Eat Up The Borders are leading a series of artist talks (Thursday, September 20), artist panels (Monday, September 24), and a wheatpaste workshop (Wednesday, October 3) as part of the Philly Public Arts Forum at the Libraries.

Read about how Conrad got started in Philadelphia Weekly’s profile and in his own words at Caldera Magazine.

Learn more, too, about the local artists visiting the Libraries as part of this series. Michelle Angela Ortiz honors the immigrant experience and uses her art as activism, while Marisa Velázquez-Rivas tells her own story as an artist shining a lights on immigrants, queer communities, and feminism. Other artists include Carol Zou, part of the Michelada Think Tank team, Russell Craig, recipient of a Right of Return fellowship for formerly incarcerated artists to address prison reform, and Keir Johnston, a member of Amber Art and Design, an art collective making public art to enact change. Johnston has also worked on the Mural Arts Philadelphia project honoring late civil rights leader Octavius V. Catto.

Wheatepaste public art by Marisa Velázquez-Rivas

Public art by Marisa Velázquez-Rivas, photo courtesy Conrad Benner



cover of The Cost of Being a GirlYasemin Besen-Cassino on the Gender Pay Gap

Author Yasemin Besen-Cassino will discuss her book The Cost of Being a Girl on Monday, October 15 at 2:00 PM. Read more about how the gender pay gap affects teens and check out Dr. Besen-Cassino’s op-eds on equal pay in The Guardian and in Ms. Magazine.  





Building the 21st Century Library

The Libraries’ symposium series about our new Charles Library continues and will focus this semester on the new library’s potential to transform Temple University’s main campus. Join us Wednesday, October 10th, as we also discuss what steps have been—or could be—taken to make the building more accessible (physically and intellectually) to the campus and surrounding communities.

A rendering of Charles Library

A rendering of Charles Library, courtesy Snøhetta

Read about how Snøhetta, the internationally acclaimed architecture firm who designed the Charles, is changing the way we absorb architecture.  


Congratulations to the 2017-2018 Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award Winners

Temple University Libraries congratulates the winners of the 2017-2018 Livingstone Undergraduate Research Awards, which honor the most outstanding scholarly and creative work of our undergraduate students. The Awards are named for generous donor John H. Livingstone, SBM ‘49, who has supported undergraduate research for more than a decade.

Join us on Tuesday, April 17 at 4:00 PM in Paley Library to celebrate these students and their wonderful accomplishments. Please RSVP to kaitlyn.semborski@temple.edu on or before Wednesday, April 11.



Award Winners

Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in the Humanities
Blond or Blonde? Frank Ocean and Identity Construction
by Kerri Rafferty
Faculty advisor: Shana Goldin-Perschbacher

Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in the Social Sciences
Gender Quotas as Strategy: Exploring the Relationship Among International Perceptions of Democracy, Transnational Influence, and Female Representation in Sub-Saharan Africa
by Paige Hill
Faculty advisor: Sarah Sunn Bush

Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in the STEM disciplines
(Z)-Selective Isomerization of Terminal Alkenes using an air-stable Mo(0) Complex
by Owen Glaze
Faculty advisor: Graham Dobereiner

Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in Creative Works and Media Production
Monumental Change
by Jacob Segelbaum and Brooke de Zutter
Faculty advisor: Kristine Weatherston

Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award for General Education Courses
Protesting the Internment of Japanese Americans: Dissent as a Duty of Citizenship
by Anna Manogue
Faculty advisor: Ralph Young

Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in Sustainability and the Environment
Choosing Permeable Pavement Design to Maximize Stormwater Management Capabilities
by Elizabeth Shaloka
Faculty advisor: Joseph Danowsky

The Livingstone Undergraduate Research Awards are generously sponsored by John H. Livingstone, SBM ‘49.

The Award in Sustainability and the Environment is generously sponsored by Gale, a Cengage company.

An Interview with Filmmaker Jonathan Olshefski

On Monday, March 26, the Libraries are screening Quest, a documentary by Temple alumnus Jonathan Olshefski, as part of our Beyond the Page public programming series. Filmed over a ten year period, the documentary portrays Christopher “Quest” Rainey and his wife Christine’a “Ma Quest” as they raise a family in North Philadelphia while nurturing a community of hip hop artists in their home music studio.

Join us at 5:00 PM at the Reel Cinema (Student Center South, Lower Level, 1755 N. 13th Street) to watch the film and hear from the director and members of the Rainey family in a Q&A afterwards. All programs are free and open to all.

I had the opportunity to speak with Jonathan ahead of the screening and ask him about his time as a Temple student, his experience working on Quest, and the films we all need to watch.

Beckie: Can you tell us a little bit about your experiences as a Temple student? When did you know you wanted to study filmmaking?

Jonathan: I grew up in Pittsburgh and started making little videos with borrowed consumer camcorders when I was in middle school, and then in high school I started making skate videos with my brothers and some friends that included a little bit of skateboarding and a lot of random craziness. We called ourselves Loathly Lady Skate Company. We started selling VHS tapes locally and on the internet. By the time I graduated from high school in 2000, I wanted to go deeper and continue to make movies. Temple had a film program with a great reputation and I was able to get in-state tuition so I moved to Philadelphia and have been here ever since.

As an undergraduate I double majored in Film and Media Arts and English Literature. I ended up making a bunch of experimental videos and was introduced to interactive New Media, which really captured my imagination. My senior thesis project was an interactive narrative that weaves a number of related storylines together called Memoir: The Oral History. Technology is changing with Flash going out of style, but it can still be accessed online—http://whispersinthestorm.com/memoir/.

I also developed a love for still photography and, after graduation in 2004, documentary photography.

Jonathan Olshefski, director; credit: Carina Romano

I started a photo essay with the Rainey family in 2006 and soon began to think that maybe there was a film there. In 2007, I returned Temple to make the leap from still photography to documentary film and started Film and Media Arts MFA program. This was the dawn of QUEST the film. I didn’t know at the time, but the journey would last longer than I or anyone else ever would have imagined.  


Beckie: I want to talk more about your experience filming Quest, but first I have to ask you about when you used to work here in the library! Can you tell us about that? Are there any ways it’s served you in your career?

Jonathan: I was a clerk at the circulation desk and I would work the evening shift that ended at midnight. I’m a night owl, so it worked for me and as things weren’t too busy, it was a good opportunity to do homework or read. I mostly remember conversations with co-workers. I do remember that I looked pretty wild back then. I pretty much wore rags that were safety pinned together all the time. I would get some weird looks, but I was super polite and helpful and that would win people over.


Beckie: That sounds like a pretty great student job! Back to Quest—you followed and filmed the Rainey family for a decade. How did you know the Raineys would be good subjects for a movie? What was it like being present for so many personal moments?

Jonathan: The Raineys are just incredible people. They are community builders who go all out for their family and their neighborhood. The Raineys and I wanted to showcase the beauty and strength of the neighborhood from the point of view of the people who actually live there. North Philly is often misunderstood, and this film provided us an opportunity to put the true story out there and really celebrate the strength of a community that is under siege from a number of angles.

Christopher “Quest” Rainey, Isaiah Byrd, Christine’a “Ma Quest” Rainey, Patricia “PJ” Rainey; credit: Carina Romano

The Raineys became like family over the years. They embraced me as an artist and a collaborator, but also as a friend. There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the course of making this film and there were many times where I was laughing behind the camera and other times where I was crying behind the camera. The friendship and the trust that comes with it is what made this film possible and I am really honored to have shared so many personal moments with the Rainey family and their community. I’m just happy that we all feel good about the final film and we are all working hard to ensure that the film has a real impact in our world.

In a lot of ways we are just at the beginning because we want to use QUEST to support the Rainey family’s mission to build community and bring healing to North Philly and places like it.


Beckie: It seems like part of what allowed you to finish the film was winning a MacArthur Foundation grant in 2016—congrats by the way! Where were you when you found out you won? What did that grant enable you to do?

Jonathan: I got word of this in December 2015. I don’t remember where I was exactly, but I know that it was a crazy week. To the point of being almost surreal. Not only did we get the MacArthur Grant, but we also received word that public TV wanted to support that project through a co-production with ITVS and I also learned that I was approved for tenure at Rowan University. I never had three long-term, high-risk investments pay off over the course of a few days like that before or since.

The MacArthur grant provided an incredible boost as it paved the way for us to jump full steam into our post-production process and really embark on editing the film.


Beckie: That definitely does sound like a crazy, incredible week! And thanks for mentioning the fact that you also teach filmmaking. For those of us studying or interested in documentary filmmaking, can you suggest any essential films or directors we have to check out?

Jonathan: Oh man! There’s so many.

I really connect to a film called  Dark Days. It was made by a first-time filmmaker. It is a really interesting example of what can happen when a filmmaker collaborates with his subjects to tell a story and takes his time to really convey the spectrum of human experience and not just parachute in for the sensationalized surface story.

So many amazing documentaries were released in 2017 alongside QUEST. I am just very proud to be part of such an incredible group of storytellers. See these films as most of them are now available!

  • Last Men in Aleppo
  • Strong Island
  • Dina
  • The Work
  • Distant Constellation
  • The Cage Fighter
  • Motherland
  • The Departure

[[Editor’s note: We carry some of these films at Media Services! Check out the links above. Temple doesn’t have it? Try E-ZBorrow.]]


Beckie: Thanks, I will have to check some of these out! One final questionare you working on any projects right now you can share with us?

Jonathan: I started filming with another incredible family in 2011. I hope to introduce everyone to the Fiddler family in the next couple of years with a film that is currently titled Without Arrows.


Beckie: I look forward to that very much! Thanks, Jonathan, for sharing your time with us and I cannot wait to see Quest next Monday.


Paley Library Hosts Panel and Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

Photo courtesy Brae Howard

On Tuesday, March 13, the Libraries hosted a panel on representation and identity in the art world and participated in our third annual Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. This international program brings together participants in one space to update Wikipedia entries on subjects related to gender, art, and feminism over the course of an afternoon.

In a 2011 survey, the Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors were women. While the reasons for the gender gap are up for debate, the practical effect of this disparity is not: content is skewed by the lack of representation from women.

In order to establish the context for issues associated with art, gender, and representation, we began the morning with a panel moderated by Dr. Jennifer Zarro, art historian, writer, curator, and faculty at the Tyler School of Art, and composed of Mechella Yezernitskaya, co-curator of Beyond Boundaries: Feminine Forms, and Kate Kraczon, the Laporte associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Penn. The three discussed being art curators; the importance of mentorship; barriers related to gender, race, and class in the museum world; the canon of art history; myths of the art world; and so much more.

From left to right, Dr. Jennifer Zarro, Kate Kraczon, and Mechella Yezernitskaya; photo courtesy Brae Howard

We then transitioned to our afternoon of Wikipedia editing. Librarian Caitlin Shanley provided a tutorial for beginner Wikipedians and the lecture hall was soon bustling with conversation and serious editing work.

Photo courtesy Brae Howard

Participation in the edit-a-thon at the Libraries has steadily increased over the three years since its debut, with a record turnout this year. According to Jill Luedke, program organizer and art, art history, and architecture librarian, coordinating with faculty ahead of time played a huge role in bringing in more students throughout the day.

Photo courtesy Brae Howard


Adrienne Shaw, assistant professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production, brought her LGBT Media Representation class to the edit-a-thon, and even incorporated the activity into her coursework. Her goal was to have students use the materials, resources, and knowledge from her course to identify gaps in existing Wikipedia entries about LGBTQ media texts and Philadelphia LGBTQ historical events and find additional sources to add to them. The group setting provided space for asking questions and collaboration as each student edited at least one entry.

Thanks to everyone who came out to this wonderful program. Let’s keep working toward a more inclusive and representative Wikipedia world!

An Interview with Writer Kathryn Ionata

Photo by Stephen Brown

On Tuesday, February 20, Temple alumna and writer Kathryn Ionata will participate in the Libraries’ Beyond the Page public programming series as a featured artist in our Midday Arts Series. Join us at 12:30 PM in the Paley Library Lecture Hall (1210 Polett Walk, Ground Floor) to hear Kathryn read. All programs are free and open to all.

I had the opportunity to speak with Kathryn ahead of her reading, and ask her about her time as a Temple student, writing in multiple genres, and what she thinks you should be reading.


Beckie: Can you tell us a little bit about your experiences as a Temple student? When did you know you wanted to study writing?

Kathryn: I actually applied to Temple as a psychology major. Although I had always wanted to be a writer, I viewed that desire as separate from any academic or career interests I had. This may have been because as much as I loved reading and taking creative writing classes in school, I wasn’t crazy about Beowulf, for example, and mistakenly generalized the idea of an English major in that way. Once I visited Temple, I talked to professors about Hyphen and the Philadelphia Writers Conference and everything else that was exciting about writing and I realized that this was what I needed to be doing. I loved the electricity of the campus (and still do!) so much so that I decided to go for my MFA in Fiction, also at Temple, after I graduated. And I had a teaching assistantship, which is when I realized how much I like teaching as well as writing.

B: It sounds like Temple was a great place for you to develop as a writer. In terms of your work, you write and publish across genres, like poetry and fiction. How do you know when an idea is a poem or a story? What is your process like?

K: That’s a really good question and one that is tough to answer. I think the best way I can describe it is that poems come to me as more abstract feelings or moments that I wouldn’t be able to convey with a plot. Stories come to me as a larger concept, something more based in character and circumstance. And I suppose flash fiction is somewhere in between! Sometimes the same inspiration stays with me and lends itself to different genres.

B: Speaking of inspiration—set the scene for us! You are writing, and the setting is perfect. Where are you and why?

K: A perfect writing day means that I will have conquered that terrible combination of procrastination and anxiety and the words are coming easily and it feels natural rather than forced. I’ve gotten some good writing done on the third floor of Paley library in those orange and wooden chairs. I’ve also got a spot at home next to a window where I work well. (Also, I think eating candy while I write helps. I’m sure a dentist would disagree).

B: You mentioned earlier how much you like teaching. How do you, as a writer, approach the teaching of writing?

K: I try to approach it with empathy, because I know the terror of showing something personal to others and not knowing if they will like it or not. I try to convey the idea that writing is a process we rarely perfect on the first try, and that there are many different, legitimate kinds of writers and writing. I also encourage my students to immerse themselves in other art forms, whether that takes the form of music, visual art, film, or anything else.

B: What do you consider required reading for students who want to study writing?

K: There are a few classic short stories that you’ll find in many creative writing classes (including some of mine) such as “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver and “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin. But the lessons they contain about structure and dialogue and character can be found in a great many other pieces. More than any list of texts, I think what’s most important is to read widely. Read writers of different races, ethnicities, and genders. Read fiction, poetry, and the unclassifiable. Here are some of my favorite authors and texts across genres that I’ve assigned recently or hope to assign soon:

  • Danez Smith, especially Don’t Call Us Dead
  • Kim Addonizio, especially What Is This Thing Called Love
  • Alice Munro, “Passion”
  • Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl”
  • Dan Chaon, “The Bees”
  • Helen Ellis, “The Wainscoting Wars”
  • Sam Weiner, “Your Mass Shooting Thoughts and Prayers Are Accidentally Going to the Angry God of a Distant Planet”

B: I’m definitely going to check those recommendations out! Thanks for your time, Kathryn, and we are looking forward to your reading next week.