Readers and writers: Watch out! Grab your pencil and start taking notes because here is some exciting information about the event that took place at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Downtown Storrs on Thursday, Oct. 26. The UConn Creative Writing Program welcomed published authors and UConn alumni Crystal Maldonado and Tim Stobierski for a wonderful peek at their most recent pieces: “The Fall of Whit Rivera” and “Dancehall,” respectively.
If you are complaining about your essay due this week, think about Maldonado, who two weeks ago released her third book in the course of three years. Crazy, right? She started speaking on her work and delighted everyone in the room for the first half of the night with her playful personality and entertaining reading of her book’s second chapter.
In “The Fall of Whit Rivera,” Maldonado contemplates the story of Whit, a teenager of color, who struggles with a chronic illness of polycystic ovary syndrome and fatphobia. After a terrible summer, Whit is determined to make this school year unforgettable. She joins the homecoming committee and everything goes well until she finds out she’s been paired up with her ex-boyfriend Zay — who, as Madonaldo said herself “is kinda cute” — and things soon become confusing. What about her current boyfriend? How is he going to feel about this? I guess you will have to read it to find out. The vocabulary is extremely conversational and easy to follow, and the topics are perfect for both teenagers and young adults who wish to have a casual, fun time following the hilarious journey of Whit.
For the second half of the night, the crowd was enchanted with some of the deep poems in Stobierski’s book, “Dancehall.” As shared by the author, the book is divided into five sections, each of which walks the reader through a different phase of the relationship that inspired the collection of poetry. Stobierski mentioned how he structured his poems in a specific way where they “talk to each other,” which makes the reading even more exciting and interactive.
It was very interesting to see how everybody in the room was moved by the dynamicism of his reading: the smiles and passionate looks while he told the first two chapters, which cover the first encounters and early lust of the relationship, followed by the aching chests of the words of heartbreak with which the book ends. Therefore, fellow Huskies who are going through hard times in the romantic area of life should check it out! This might be just what you need.
To end the night, both authors opened for questions that were mostly focused on insightful tips for the young authors out there. Among them, attendees sought both authors’ bits of advice for creative Huskies struggling with writer’s block.
Stobierski started by sharing that he believes it is important to respect one’s time as a writer and try again when it feels right. He went on to mention, “The best way to break out of that is to just truly walk away. Stop trying to force yourself to make something happen. Go read, however long it takes. When you have that feeling again, sit down and try to write it.” Maldonado agreed and added that changing plans also works: “Walking away from your writing or trying a different project, starting something completely new, can be really helpful.”
With all of that said, if you haven’t settled on what you will do during Thanksgiving break, go guarantee your copies of their books and get reading!