International Writing Program Reading

“Every public appearance of my work feels like giving birth to a child.” –Farhad Sulliman Khoyratty, before beginning his reading.
“I don’t believe in truth with a capital T. I believe in smaller, more subjective truths.” –Farhad
Sitting in the back row. Fumes of various perfumes wafting around, people dressed in their finest literary garb, pleated skirts, leather oxfords, wool cardigans, and glasses with the little loops on the stems.
Farhad begins reading, a letter from a son to his mother, a story about a man who thinks all things find in him their originating causes.
A quiet atmosphere pervades, the hiss of the espresso machines coming muffled from the coffee shop in back. Members of the literary community sit slouched in their chairs, smiling as familiar faces come and go, clasping each other’s hands in silent tender recognition. Farhad reads steadily on, earnest orator, a sensitive and introspective writer.
The plane crashes, the son feels his soul leaving his body in midair. Someone’s cell phone rings, a bad pop song, autotuned vocals. Man gets up, steps behind a shelf and says audibly “Hello?” Farhad’s reading quickens, gets louder.
“How does one link all the words? Which the shade and which the light?”–Farhad (I just like that line I guess)
Farhad’s writing ends. Speaker wishes all the writer’s safe flights back home, safer than the one in Farhad’s story. Muffled laughter.
Rachel Yoder of the UI non-fiction writer’s worksop. Her reading is an essay about her experiences growing up in a Mennonite community in Ohio.
Very rich prose. “something chemical and dark…” I like.
Describes her home very eloquently. The idealism of her parents. One day her dad suffocated some cicadas and cooked them in the oven, asked her if she wanted to eat some with him. Dad and mom ate them with honey, said they were nutty.
Angry, biter storytelling, traces of teenage angst, of a girl wanting to escape the craziness of her backwards upbringing.
Describes her discovery of boys and youthful passions, Rage Against the Machines, then in agonizing detail, the preparation of a meal in her family’s Mennonite homestead. The contrast is stark, the choice clear.
Next up, Ian Rosales Casacot from the Philippines. “All of the members of the IWP seem to be bent on finishing a literary project while they are here in Iowa City.”–Ian.
Begins a story, a sunset in Chicago, a corner in Macy’s, a starbucks, the dull roar of the L train. Mmm. I am transported…I miss Chicago!
Mentions Palatine. I drove through there with my dad when I was learning to drive. Drove into an intersection and almost got sideswiped, my dad shrieking in terror. Enough time has passed now for me to look back and laugh.
Jesus, he’s describing my usual walking route through downtown Chicago, along Wabash ave! I can damn near see the street and the window cleaners, the scaffolds over the sidewalks!
End of transmission for now. All good readers. Rachel Yoder was my favorite.
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