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March 26, 2010
Vol. 51 No. 18

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Cooper revisits campus as Visiting Writer

Author stays at Susquehanna for workshops, book reading

Bernard Cooper
"It is important to stay open-minded," said this year's Visiting Writers Series Annual Extended Stay Resident Writer Bernard Cooper during the question-and-answer time after his reading on Thursday night.

On Thursday, March 25, Cooper read from his collection of short stories and from his memoir to about a hundred students and faculty members at 7:30 p.m. in Isaacs Auditorium in Seibert Hall.

Cooper has authored the memoirs "The Bill from my Father," Maps to Anywhere" and "Truth Serum," among other short stories and a novel.

As the only visiting writer to stay for a week this year, Cooper had the opportunity to sit in on every prose-writing workshop offered this semester, said Gary Fincke, director of the Writers' Institute.

"He visited the memoir classes especially, was able to lead workshops for the students and even met individually with many of the upperclassmen writers," Fincke said.

Cooper specializes his writing in nonfiction and fiction.

The most important idea is that "his presence lingers for a week; he is not gone in 24 hours.

Students were able to eat lunch with him and meet with him individually, and actually get to know a writer -- if only briefly," Fincke said.

"This is especially valuable for more experienced writers because they are able to hear another voice beyond [the faculty and staff at Susquehanna]," Fincke said.

The writing faculty and staff finished picking the Extended Stay Resident Writer for next year in March, although the name of the next writer remains a mystery until next semester.

Fincke said that there are between six and seven visiting writers every year who are hand-selected and invited to Susquehanna about a year in advance.

"All faculty has an input as to who to invite," Fincke said. He said that each professor researches and picks a writer from within his or her field with which to extend an invitation to visit the university the next year.

Fincke said that students don't generally have a direct impact on who visits the university each year, but that the writer who generates the most reception and influence within the student body is the writer who is asked to return for the week-long visit.

"The students do have an input to who we invite back for the extended stay visit," Fincke said. "Bernard Cooper visited Susquehanna two years ago (although he swears it was four years) and the students really responded to him, which is why we decided to invite him back for the extended visit," he said.

The upcoming events directed by the Writers' Institute at Susquehanna include a publication reading by Fincke on Monday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Isaacs Auditorium in Seibert Hall; the final senior readings on Tuesday, March 30 and Wednesday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Degenstein Art Gallery, in which senior Susquehanna writing students read their own work to peers, family, friends, and faculty; and a RiverCraft publication reading with visiting writer and Susquehanna alumnus, Jay Varner, on Monday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Isaacs Auditorium.

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