By Stephanie Khio
The MFA in Creative Writing’s Reading Series continues this semester, starting off with Suzanne Scanlon, visiting instructor for the graduate nonfiction workshop and author of the novel “Promising Young Women.”
The reading series actively involves all students — graduate and undergraduate — and includes a writing workshop by the visiting writer for the MFA students, afterward.
Unlike many contemporary writers, Scanlon writes about the aestheticism and pleasure of modern technology.
“Your body is affected differently,” she said, after reading her piece about a woman “curling up and holding the phone up to [her] ear” when becoming enthralled with a sexy and manly automated voice.
This romanticism of the technological world, she stated, is what makes it so fascinating and authentic.
“Truth is always really important,” Scanlon said.
Posing a question of what is real, Scanlon stated that online relationships, or relationships that initially began on the web, can seem more real. She related this to her friendship with Kate Zambreno, author of “Heroines,” when they wrote to each other before actually meeting face-to-face. Through their faceless written communication, they were able to realize what they had in common and loved talking about.
The culture of blogging, particularly for women, is what interests Scanlon as a writer. She stated that women’s writing is oftentimes dismissed and viewed “as less serious and important.” The act of women blogging online and connecting emotionally has become a culture that Scanlon takes part of and supports.
Though she is an advocate for women writers, that is not all that Scanlon is recognized for. She also discussed her writing process and how she distinguishes between fiction and nonfiction writing.
“I think about it if I have to,” Scanlon said.
Playing around with different structures and the representation of truth is more natural for her. Through writing fiction, she found that there is more freedom to embrace “uglier truths” and “complicated things.”
“I never make outlines,” she said, though she finds that they’re useful at times when she needs to get a clear idea of a story’s overall shape.
As an artist who touches on many contemporary and newborn ideas, Scanlon’s discussion of her philosophies and processes of writing left students and professors alike with numerous questions at the reading.
MFA Reading Series events are held on select Thursdays at 5 p.m. in the Gage Gallery. Questions and discussions are open, at the end, with free refreshments throughout.