October’s Here & Now Presents Poet Terrance Hayes and Novelist Peter Orner

Nearly 200 students and staff packed Ulrich Theater to welcome poet Terrance Hayes and writer Peter Orner, kicking off the English department’s Writers Here & Now program Oct. 1.

Writers Here & Now aims to bring renown writers and poets from around the world to the young writers at the University of Maryland.

Peter Orner, a novelist, short story writer and creative writing professor at San Francisco State University, spoke first at the event. (Kate Faiella/Bloc Photographer)
Peter Orner, a novelist, short story writer and creative writing professor at San Francisco State University, spoke first at the event. (Kate Faiella/Bloc Photographer)

About once a month, the Creative Writing Department and The Writer’s House invite two guests to read their works.

“Since the [Jiménez-Porter] Writers’ House is one of the two co-sponsors of Writers Here & Now, we get to hold intimate question and answer sessions with the poets before they read,” said Julie Brown, the Writer’s House graduate assistant coordinator.

This month, the Creative Writing Department invited Peter Orner, a novelist and short story writer. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly and The San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications.

Orner, a creative writing professor at San Francisco State University, was first to read, reciting excerpts from two of his books.

Wednesday’s Q&A session began around 5:30 p.m. until 6:15 p.m., when young writers were able to ask Hayes about his published books, his target audience, and what helps him write.

Freshman English major Homa Hajarian, a fan of Hayes, got the chance to ask the poet three questions.

“I asked him how he would feel if his poetry was translated, if his books were banned and about his thoughts on the stereotypical unsuccessful poet,” Hajarian said.

Though Hayes said many of his works have been translated, he believes that afterward, the poem becomes the words of the translator and not of the poet.

Hayes added that he would be honored if one of his books were banned because it would mean someone thought it was that controversial.

Terrance Hayes is a painter-turned-writer and has published multiple books. (Kate Faiella/Bloc Photographer)
Terrance Hayes is a painter-turned-writer and has published multiple books. (Kate Faiella/Bloc Photographer)

In response to the third question, Hayes said sometimes that is the case, but one shouldn’t go into poetry for the money; it should always be about the passion of the art.

Hayes, a former paint-artist, has published four books: “Muscular Music,” “Hip Logic,” “Wind in a Box” and, most recently, “Lighthead,” which was the winner of the National Book Award. He is aiming to publish another book by the springtime.

“I try to put out a new book every four to five years,” Hayes said. “It’s been that way for the past almost 20 years.”

The English Department will welcome writer Joshua Ferris and poet Peter Campion for next month’s Here & Now event on Nov. 5.

writersblocheadshots16Nora Tarabishi is a senior journalism major with a minor in Arabic and can be reached at norat92@terpmail.umd.edu.

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