September 28, 2007
Professors give reading
Tom Bailey and Karla Kelsey, assistant professors of English and creative writing, joined Writers Institute Director Gary Fincke in the faculty reading. Each professor read a selection from his or her work, introduced by senior creative writing majors Christina Behnke, Meredith Blankinship, Aniell Daczka and Patrick Henry.
Retief, who comes to Susquehanna from Eastern Kentucky University, is the fourth full-time tenure-track professor to be added to the writing faculty. The additional position was established because of the growth in the creative writing major at Susquehanna, which now enrolls 128 majors.
Retief, a native of South Africa, received his M.F.A. from the University of Miami and his doctorate in English literature and creative writing from Florida State University. He has held numerous fellowships and awards, including a Florida State University Fellowship, the university's most prestigious award for graduate students.
As for his experiences at Susquehanna so far, Retief said, "My colleagues are great."
"I'm both honored and excited to be working with writers of the caliber that the Writers Institute has here," he said.
Retief will teach classes advanced nonfiction memoir and writing and thinking this fall. He will teach two introductory nonfiction classes in the spring.
"Dr. Retief is incredibly empathetic about the 'writer's struggle,'" said junior Brittany Jerlat, a member of Retief's memoir class. "He knows it's difficult, but he encourages us."
At the reading, Retief read an emotional selection from his memoir "Intimacies," written in 2003. The memoir tracks his changing views on marriage, love and sex from childhood through adolescence and on to life as a young adult. The memoir takes place in his home country of South Africa, as well as in the United States and in several European locations. He is currently working on a longer memoir, "The Chameleon's Home Country," in which "Intimacies" will appear.
"There's something very special about being hired in nonfiction," Retief said. "When a fiction writer reads, he's sharing what he's written. With nonfiction, it's not just what I write; this is me. I'm both excited and nervous about sharing something so intimate."
Junior Kayln Kepner, who attended the lecture, said, "[Retief] is knowledgeable about the process of writing a memoir, and his advice is always helpful and supportive. His reading was a great opportunity to see his kind personality and strength as a writer."
Fincke, in speaking about the event, noted that one of the goals as a department is to increase community among creative writing majors.
"Faculty readings let our students hear what we do as writers and, in this case, help introduce our newest faculty member, Glen Retief, to nearly all of them at one time," Fincke said.
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