English department hosts readings by Dybek and Forché

In January 2006, James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, appeared as a guest at Oakland University. Last year, Bill Nye was welcomed to OU in a special event. However, these aren’t the only guest speakers to appear on campus.

Writers Stuart Dybek and Carolyn Forché have been invited to appear on campus. The events were organized by the Department of English.

“This is a big deal for Oakland University to be able to bring these two major writers to campus to read and talk informally with students,” said  English professor Peter Markus.

Stuart Dybek Reading – Tuesday, Sept. 27

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, Stuart Dybek was on campus. The event was a fiction and poetry reading held from 5:30-7:30 pm in the Oakland Room of the Oakland Center.

Dybek is an American writer known for writing fiction and poetry. He is most known for writing “The Coast of Chicago: Stories” and “I Sailed with Magellan.”

“Dybek was a teacher of mine. [He] is a major reason I’m the writer I am today,” Markus said.

In the past, Markus has used Dybek’s stories to teach students about writing.

“[Students of mine] might remember me teaching his story ‘Pet Milk,’ which is one of the more beautiful love stories in the language,” said Markus. “Dybek was the first real writer I studied with whom I talked about writing from the experience of being a writer.”

Carolyn Forché: Memorial Poetry Reading – Tuesday, Oct. 7

Carolyn Forché will make an appearance from 5-7pmin Banquet Room A of the Oakland Center. The event is a poetry reading meant to honor Dr. Maurice F. Brown, an OU professor who instructed for over 20 years until his death in 1985. It is open to students and guests alike and will include free refreshments.

Forché is a poet, translator and human rights activist. She has translated the poetry of numerous authors, including Claribel Alegría. Forché’s works include “Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness,” “The Country Between Us,” “Gathering the Tribes,” “The Angel of History” and “Blue Hour.”

The subject matter of her poems is often political. She documented the conditions during her stay in El Salvador in the 1970s during the Salvadoran Civil War.

“In one of her most well-known poems, ‘The Colonel,’ she describes a real-life encounter with a Salvadoran colonel who, as he made fun of her concern for human rights, emptied a bag of human ears on a table in front of her,” said  English professor Alison Powell.

Markus said that he uses “The Colonel” to transition between poetry and fiction in class.

“[Forché] is a really important and ground-breaking poet and I admire her very much for her commitment to what she calls ‘poetry of witness,’” Powell said. “Forché makes the point that the distinction between ‘personal’ poems and ‘political’ poems isn’t very useful; instead, she says, we need a third term — ‘social’ poetry, that describes the space in-between, where books are read, protesters gather, poems are written.”

“I have been reading both Dybek and Forché for decades,” said Annette Gilson, an English professor at OU.

For more information on upcoming events, visit GrizzOrgs on MySail or contact the Center for Student Activities and Leadership at (248) 370-2400.