Author Ishmael Beah to kick off Convocation


The Appalachian Online

Katie Murawski

The Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series will return to campus this Thursday, Sept 3. during fall convocation with speaker Ishmael Beah, author of “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.”

The novel, chosen as this year’s summer reading book for incoming freshman, ranked No. 3 in the “TIME Magazine” Top 10 nonfiction books of 2007 list.

Beah will remain on campus after convocation for a “craft talk,” NC Poet laureate and creative writing professor Joseph Banthanti said.

“[The craft talks] focus on a particular issue involving writing, whether it be poetry, memoir, or fiction, and they hold forth on that particular issue,” he said. “[The writers] might talk about narrative poetry or characterization, or dialogue.”

The visiting writers series, scheduled to feature eight well-known authors hand-picked by ASU professors, is “one of the year-in-year-out signature series that [the university] most generously sponsors,” Banthanti said.

Banthanti described the process of choosing the writers and the summer reading book as  “a consortium of thought, including books for all taste, and diverse chops.” The series is named for a former Board of Trustee member and a 1968 graduate student, he said.

Sophomore health care management major Kaitlyn Tabone previously attended Roxane Gay’s reading of Bad Feminist, part of last year’s series.

“I think it’s important that [these authors] visit our campus because as a community we need more diversity,” Tabone said. “[Gay’s] background and focus on feminism and intersectionality are extremely relevant to society today.”

Sophomore global studies major Katie Pate agrees.

“I feel that this type of event is important because it gives writers a direct line to have a conversation with their readers, and it gives students a reason to read the work of authors they may not otherwise explore,” she said.

The writer series is not only for writers, Banthanti said.

“The writer series is certainly for the students in the creative writing concentrations and aspiring writers in the English Department and Boone community,” he said, “but not only that, the writer series are for readers everywhere.”

After Beah’s appearance, poet and alumni R.T Smith will read on Sept. 24 in the Plemmons Student Union. The author of “Storming Heaven,” Denise Giardina will give a morning craft talk Oct. 20, and Black Mountain College literary historians William C. Rice and Katherine Chaddock will read their work on Oct. 27.

Katie Murawski, A&E Reporter