Miami M.A. Alum Chris Coake Reading Review

by Steve Dudas

Staff Writer

Chris CoakeApril 9, 2013 — Chris Coake’s reading was a fantastic finale to a year of stunning visiting writers. Not only was his reading enjoyable, but his discussion during the question and answer period was enlightening with respect to his views on writing as a craft.

Coake read from his novel You Came Back, the narrative of Mark Fife, a man trying to move on with his life after the death of his young son and subsequent divorce from his first wife.  When Mark meets Connie, a woman who has moved into Mark’s old house with her husband and son, he learns that his child’s ghost may very well be haunting the new family.

Coake’s reading was as charming and compelling as his writing. The language was crisp and the story exciting. Even when the audience knows what is coming (I think here specifically of the phantasmagoric reveal), there is energy, care, and reality in the scenic filling as the moment is drawn out. The tensions of anticipation and resistance felt by the characters are shared by the audience.

Coake credited much of his talent and success to “the good fortune, writing-wise, to have been unpopular” in high school. His outcasthood led him to a range of genre fiction, though he cites Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, and horror-fantasy as specific initial influences. These books served as “points of departure” for the author who remains a proponent of exploring genre-fiction. He argues that it is important for budding writers to latch on to subjects and styles that they enjoy and that excite them.

“Start out writing the kind of stuff you know and like,” Coake says, “and then start reading more widely and eclectically.”

The author was very honest about the difficulties and stresses of the publishing world observing, “Many authors do not get the audience they deserve.”

Coake also advised the writers in the audience to draw from the events and experiences that leave them unsatisfied, to figure out if each approaches dissatisfaction as an “engaged, enthusiastic” interrogator or as a “miserable bastard” whose style might be more complaint and protest driven.

A former student of Miami himself, Chris Coake ended with a thank you to several of his former professors in the audience, giving them his own small applause as we in the audience thanked him for an inspiring evening with our own.

Chris Coake earned his M.A. in creative writing here at Miami University and an M.F.A at The Ohio State University. He teaches at University of Reno, Nevada.


Invitation to Final OxMag Reading!

Dear Lovers of OxMag,

Hi to you all, I hope this post finds you in happiness on this Monday evening. It’s Oxford Magazine again, thanking you all sincerely for your lively and engaged support this semester, it’s been awesome! This post is also an invitation to come join us for this year’s final live performance installment in the OxMag / Bookstore Reading Series and help us top 500 audience members for our events this term. Invite our friends, spread the word around, please cordially invite your students: it’s our final reading of the year and one no one should miss. This time, in addition to performances by our incredibly gifted creative writing colleagues, I’m excited to announce that Creative Writing Major, Inklings Editor and OxMag Intern Cecilia Stelzer will be one of our four talented performers this Wednesday evening in the Miami University Bookstore. The full lineup below:
Prose :: Pamela Fisher and Elizabeth Jenike
Poetry :: Cecilia Stelzer and Kelly Thomas
Hosts :: Brenna York and Michael Stoneberg
This Wednesday, April 17th at 7:00pm in Miami University’s Bookstore located on the second floor of the Shriver Student Center on Patterson & Spring just across from Bachelor Hall. As always, stop in early to mingle while enjoying coffee and cookies provided generously by the Miami University Bookstore.
Again, thank you so much for your time and support. The staffs at OxMag and Miami University Bookstore hope you will come out next week to close out this term’s grad student readings and thoroughly enjoy yourselves with us this Wednesday night. We’ll see you there and then! Thank you so much and make it a great day, everyone!
(In the meantime, take a gander OxMag’s Facebook page, updated with candid photos from our readings, and please do invite yourself and our colleagues to our Facebook event page.)
Love love love.

OxMag / Bookstore Reading IV Review

by Steve Dudas

Staff Writer

February 27, 2013 — This Wednesday’s reading marked the third in the OxMag Reading series’ life and the second of 2013. Readers included first-year MA writers Curtis Dickerson (fiction), Edwin Perry (poetry), and Riva Roller (poetry) and second-year fiction writer Bret Nye.

All of the performances were captivating, in part due to the sheer quality of the work Curtis Dickersonpresented. Dickerson’s “Chip’s Story,” both humorous and poignant, followed the story and backstories of a trio of writer friends collected together to discuss Chip’s latest fiction-in-progress. The narrative smartly collects and examines issues of evolving relationships alongside changes to one’s perspective on the purpose writing with time.

Perry’s selection was a series of poems dedicated to and written in response to the Edwin Perrywork of a number of his colleagues—fellow writers in the program as well as professors. These pieces played upon subject interests and aesthetic idiosyncrasies that Perry has observed in experiencing the poems and fiction of the writers around him. A major proponent of art as a community endeavor, Perry exemplified his keen awareness of the influences of individual writers on a collective entity, on a pool of intellect and creativity that informs the work of all those participating.

Bret Nye’s powerful story “Factory” gripped hearts in its almost phantasmagoric Bret Nyedepiction of factory work and legacy, inheritance of the labors that burden and break. In this piece, a young man finds himself working in the same factory that his father has worked in for years. The tensions of environment and worker status, the haunting concept of ghosts in the warehouse, and a looming notion of self and future are struggled with in a voice that, in live reading, exercises a cool control amidst its potently depicted apprehensions.

And Roller read poems from a beautiful manuscript-in-progress, a project that continuesRiva Roller to explore sound, language, meaning, and the gaps and obstacles that appear in our attempts to make meaning. Perhaps most apparent to the audience was Roller’s unique performance style, one influenced by performers who mimic what we might think of as the speech of robots or the mechanical. Using the notation that she writes into the white space of the page, Roller reads with a lively arrangement of speeds and pauses, quick bursts of language hanging off of and colliding into one another sharply.

Together, the performances created a vibrant ambience, an exciting evening, and an occasion that the writers and their colleagues should be exceptionally proud of.Ending of Reading

OxMag / Bookstore Reading III Review

by Cecilia Stelzer

OxMag Intern

February 6, 2013 — The latest OxMag reading featured the poets Jacob Harksen and Tony Ramstetter (the OxMag editor) and the prose writers Wei He and Bryan Partner. It also featured delicious cookies, and when Maggie Waz went behind the podium she laughed and stated “you guys caught me mid-cookie.” Wei He

She said that the cookies actually transitioned the reading nicely into the first reader, Wei He, who was interested in cooking and frequently wrote about the experience of cooking and eating. This was shown through her reading, which had some of my favorite lines from the event, including one that went, “I pressed 3 fingertips into the chocolate before I threw it away.” Another line read, “The purse was on the sofa like a wild animal hibernating.”Jacob Harksen

Wei was followed by Jacob Harksen who read a diverse selection of poems, including topics as varied as politics, love, and jealousy. One notable poem he read dealt with the narrator being invited to the wedding of someone he loved, presenting the situation with a complex humor. A line read, “dearly beloved I have so many objections it makes me objectionable.”

Bryan Partner

Jacob was followed by Bryan Partner who read a humorous essay that discussed facial hair and his choice to have it. He joked about growing up to appreciate the beauty and necessity of beards. One line read, “Frodo had his axe, Gimli had mTony Ramstettery heart.”

The final reader was OxMag editor Tony Ramstetter who read a well-rounded selection of his poetry, starting with “Ars Poetica”. This piece dealt with poetry and writing: the “poetic dreamscapade” of life. Tony read poems from a variety of styles, a mixture of humorous and serious poems. On memorable line talked about being attracted to “beautifully disruptive women.”

The reading ended on a light note, with one of Tony’s more upbeat poems and a recommendation for anyone that wanted extra cookies, there were some left over.

Reading III