On Thursday, March 26, the West Chester University Creative Writing Series will welcome award-winning poet, R. Erica Doyle for a craft talk and reading.
Doyle is the winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award and Lambda Literary Award finalist.
“She is not interested in having you inhabit a space in which you ease in and abide, but rather being aware of words on the page and being confounded, stimulated, and live,” Dr. Merkner, assistant professor of English at WCU, said when asked to describe Doyle and her work.
Her work has been anthologized in “Best American Poetry,” “Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Gay and Lesbian Writing from the Antilles,” “Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writing,” “Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam,” “Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade,” and “Transgender Writing.“
Her poetry and fiction have also appeared in various journals such as Ploughshares, Callaloo, Bloom, From the Fishouse, Blithe House Quarterly, and Sinister Wisdom.
Doyle currently lives in New York City where she is also an administrator in the NYC public schools and a huge advocate for the LGBTQA community.
On Wednesday, March 25, Doyle will be on WCU’s campus visiting various classrooms to talk about LGBTQA issues in the classroom. This is an area of expertise for Doyle who also runs Tongue Afire. Tongue Afire is a Creative Writing Workshop for queer women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people of color.
After she visits classes, students are invited to dine and talk with Doyle as she enjoys a campus meal with faculty and students.
On Thursday, Doyle will be holding a craft talk at 3:20 p.m. in Anderson room 111. The talk will feature Doyle using her poetry and share with students a way in which you can go about expressing that art.
She will share personal anecdotes and give students lessons and wisdom to take away from the talk and hopefully help them in the future.
After the talk at 7:30 p.m., Doyle will be holding a poetry reading in the Ware Family Recital Hall in Swope Music Building room 100. During this reading, she will delight the audience with readings from her book, Proxy, a collection of poetry.
Dr. Merkner described Proxy as “raw and eloquent. Gorgeous and difficult. Cool and necessary.”
The poetry is meant to make people think and express realistic views of sex. “I found it whimsical at times and playful at times, but it never loses the undercurrent of challenge,” said Merkner.
This creative writing talk and reading are part of the Creative Writing Reading Series with the purpose of “highlighting creative writing on campus, highlight the arts in the community, and connect the campus and the public community,” explained Dr. Merkner.
Doyle is the second of three writers as a part of the series. The series also hosted non-fiction writer, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, in February and will feature fiction writer, Andrew Ervin, later this semester. The creative writing department is currently working on writers for next year and making sure that the Creative Writing Series continues to be sustainable through the years.
As Dr. Merkner explained, “People in the community go to the library to look for creative writing, but we [West Chester University] have a really vibrant literary scene and we want to celebrate the arts on campus.”
Colleen Curry is a fourth-year student majoring in communications. She can be reached at CC763513@wcupa.edu.