As part of a Finlandia class called Write on the Edge, there will be a series of seminars on campus this semester looking at history from both a fictional and nonfictional perspective. Authors and professors will be discussing their writing, their focus based loosely on the theme of boundaries, edges that can be both physically or imaginatively bounding as a writer or even a character in a story. Some will also touch on conflict, talking about war and their experiences in it or learning about it.
These seminars will tie in with this year’s campus read, “The Gendarme,” a novel written by Mark Mustian that tells the story of an old man dreaming of a life in war that he doesn’t remember living. This inspired the Campus Read program to make the theme for this year “Forgotten.” Suzanne Van Dam, Assistant English Professor and the coordinator of the seminars, said, “It’s often what is on the edges of our memory that haunts us. It’s like waking from a dream. It’s the things we can’t remember, and it’s just on the edge… It’s those things we feel we need to write about.”
“The Gendarme” opens up readers to a moment in history that many of us know little about. Written through historical nonfiction, we are given a glimpse into the monstrosity of the deportation of the Armenians from Turkey in 1915. Mark Mustian came on campus to kick off the series of seminars with his talk of “Words and War.”
On Tuesday, February 26, Danielle Sosin will be in that Chapel at 4:15 for her talk “The Long Shining Waters.” Her book mixes historical and contemporary fiction and is based in several different time periods in the Lake Superior area.
On Thursday, March 14, John Smolens, who teaches English at Northern Michigan University, will be here to discuss, “History: The Ultimate Fiction.”
The following week on Tuesday, March 19th, there will be a panel discussion led by Bill Knoblauch, Assistant Professor of History, and Lauri Anderson, English Professor, both from Finlandia. Joining them will be Paul Schue of Northland College and Bob Johnson of Michigan Technological University. This will take place at 4:15 at the Chapel, and they will be discussing “Conflict and Cruelty.”
On March 26, local poet and professor at Michigan Tech, Randy Freisinger, will be here for his talk, “Words Nibbling at the Edge of Something Vast: A Few Postscripts for the Blue-Eyed Straw Lady in the Front Row.”
There will also be a writing contest! Taking the theme of “Forgotton” from the campus read, students are encouraged to write a short story, prose, or poetry inspired with the concept of forgetting. The deadline to submit work is March 27th at 4:00 p.m. There is a limit of one entry per student with a maximum length of 1000 words (or 3 poems, if poetry is your media of choice). There will be cash prizes, and the winner will be published in The Roar as well as the fall 2013 issue of The Bridge. Suzanne said, “It’s great practice to get your work out there, and just entering is an act of courage for a writer. It’s a really important step to take.”
The final event from the Campus Read committee will be on April 9th, 4:15 at the Chapel. Here the winners of the writing contest will be announced, as well as a flash student reading of their works. Other student readings are encouraged.