Diversity and humanity at Roar Reading Series


Gint Aras (Karolis Gintaras Žukauskas) reads one of the chapter of his latest book, the Fugu Gint Aras. Living in Oak Park, Illinois with his family. He’s a community college instructor, photographer, and has worked as an editor, columnist, interpreter, and translator.  (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

Prose and poetry came together with a presentation at the monthly Roar Reading Series Monday night, with three authors narrating their work for a crowd of 50 at the University of Connecticut Bookstore.

Presented by the local publishing company Elephant Rock Books, the evening’s writers included Gint Aras, an Illinois-based author, Meghan Evans, a professor at Central Connecticut State University and Pegi Shea, a professor in the UConn Creative Writing Program. The audience included UConn students, local authors and students from the Rectory School in Pomfret.

Elephant Rock, which is based in Ashford, Conn., has been hosting the series for about five years now, according to event organizer Jotham Burrello.

“We wanted a place for writers to meet and read their progress,” Burello said. “The series is getting bigger now.”

Each author had distinct styles and choices of topic. Shea read several of her poems on warfare and refugees, including “Butcher of Bosnia,” which was about the Muslim ethnic cleansing enacted by Radovan Karadžić, a former Serb politician convicted for crimes against humanity. Several of Shea’s other poems highlighted human rights and globalism as well.

Aras also focused on refugees in his reading. He read an excerpt from his latest novel, “The Fugue,” which focuses on a group of refugees living outside of Chicago in the 1960s in the wake of World War II.

Evans was more slice-of-life centric, as she read a chapter from her work-in-progress novel “Too Much Light” which followed the life and relationship of two high school students.

Elephant Rock hosts the series once-a-month, encouraging attendance with a monthly “One Sentence Story” contest based on a word from one of the author’s readings. Winners receive a free t-shirt or a book, which has helped increase attendance, Burrello said.

“We get submissions from all around the world,” he said.

Audience members said that the mix of works made for an enjoyable evening.

“[Pegi Shea] is my professor,” Ben Schultz, a sixth semester digital media major, said. “I enjoyed seeing such a diverse scope of work from such talented artists.”

Burrello encourages students to attend the series, which is held on the first Monday of each month.

“This semester, we have a number of PhD poets,” he said. “I’d love to do more.”

Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.

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