By Eli Francovich

The magic of writing for senior Katherine Charters lives in the intimate connection formed between reader and writer. Careful word choice, plot development and humor open a window into the author’s soul; a window readers are invited to peek into.

“I just find it so fascinating that I can understand life better through the act of putting pencil to paper,” she said. She’s encountered much of this magic outside of the classroom, interacting face-to-face with writers through Gonzaga’s Visiting Writers Series.

Since her freshman year Charters has devotedly attended the series. Although she loves her English classes, meeting professional writers face-to-face is an irreplaceable experience. Senior Brittany Clark feels the same. “Getting to meet a published and nationally acclaimed writer and then getting into her mind and seeing what her writing process is like, that is amazing,” Clark said. She believes events like the Visiting Writers Series are fundamental to her education.

“It’s difficult to quantify the impact on a student of talking with Joy Harjo about Native American politics or getting an answer from Robert Hass about a question regarding poetry, but it’s irrefutable that being taken seriously as a thinker by luminaries in the field bolsters our students’ confidence and gives them a grand entry into the larger world of creativity and ideas,” said Tod Marshall, founder and organizer of the series. He adds that the series provides a forum for poets and authors to “continue the cultural conversations of the past and present.”

“Seeing a professional person’s greater passion for writing, no matter what they do to make money, has fueled my passion,” Charters said. It’s an empowering experience, one that makes her feel, if not equal to the professionals, at least on the same playing field. Plus, the Visiting Writers Series setting is more conducive to absorbing prose or poetry. “There is mood lighting and you’re really listening to that one speaker perform their work,” Charters said. “I actually skip class to go to them a lot of the time. I figure these are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.”

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