Author of A Romantic Education, Virgin Time, and Blue Arabesque and guest editor of Ploughshares' fall 2012 issue Patricia Hampl kicked off the newly merged 2012-2013 Reading Series hosted by the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing (WLP) and Ploughshares. Hampl discussed her career as a memoirist during a Q&A moderated by Senior Writer-in-Residence Richard Hoffman on October 4.
By pooling their resources WLP and Ploughshares will be able to bring nationally and internationally acclaimed writers to campus. WLP Professor Steve Yarbrough said, “It was both desirable and natural to team up with Ploughshares. Just as WLP has a number of writers and critics on its faculty whose work has reached both national and international audiences, Ploughshares' reach extends all over the national literary landscape and beyond,” he said. Ladette Randolph, director and editor-in-chief of Ploughshares, added, “It made absolute sense that we would combine our resources and mutual interest to create one terrific reading series.”
The first merged Reading Series event filled the Multipurpose Room of the Max Mutchnick Campus Center. Hampl explained to students during the Q&A she was not happy that her career trended away from writing poetry. Memoirs were “things that retired generals” would pen, she said. “No one in their twenties or thirties would walk into a creative writing class and say ‘I want to write memoirs’—it just wasn’t like that. You had to be someone. And here I was no one, from nowhere, writing a book that required decisions about my life.” Hampl said becoming a memoirist was a “call from grace.”
Hampl read from her work later that day in the Bordy Theater.
Hampl’s fiction, poems, reviews, essays, and travel pieces have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Paris Review, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays.