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Students meet, dine with respected writers


Tobias Wolff

Acclaimed writer Tobias Wolff visited Emerson College for the WLP/Ploughshares reading series.

It’s easy for aspiring writers to become discouraged. But after meeting with acclaimed author Tobias Wolff during his recent visit to Emerson, MFA student Liza Cochran '13 feels inspired.

“The writing industry is hard to break into. He was incredibly encouraging by saying you’ve just got to keep plugging away at it,” said Cochran, who is enrolled in the Creative Writing Program. “There’s no easy answer, but you’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing.”

Wolff and Adam Zagajewski, one of the leading “New Wave” writers in Poland, were on campus this month as part of a reading series hosted by Ploughshares literary magazine and the Writing, Literature and Publishing (WLP) Department.


Adam Zagajewski

Adam Zagajewski, one of the leading “New Wave” writers in Poland, visited Emerson for the WLP/Ploughshares reading series.

During separate visits to campus on November 15 and 19, respectively, Zagajewski and Wolff held short story readings, question-and-answer sessions with students and community members, and went to dinner with a handful of students and faculty.

“The Q & A sessions were standing room only,” said Steve Yarbrough, graduate program director for WLP and organizer of the events. “Students and community members got to sit there and ask the deepest questions of these absolute world-class writers and their questions were answered so thoughtfully.”

Cochran, a middle school English teacher in Providence, attended the dinner with Wolff and the readings of both writers.

“One of the things both Adam and Tobias talked about,” Cochran said, “is that the value of an MFA program is its creation of a community in which students discuss literature and writing. The reading series is an extension of that concept.”

Wolff is the author of the novels The Barracks Thief andOld School; the memoirs This Boy’s Life and In Pharaoh’s Army; and four collections of short stories. He is a faculty member at Stanford University and has won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Zagajewski is Poland’s foremost living poet and widely read essayist. He has won many prestigious awards, including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and is a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. His latest book of poems is The Unseen Hand.

The series continues next semester with Julie Otsuka in February and Major Jackson in March. 

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