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NewsJul 1, 2017

Across centuries and suburbs

Faculty authors Rachel Kadish and Adrien Matejka read from their latest books

Rachel Kadish and Adrian Matejka

Every summer our evening reading series assembles an impressive cadre of authors to read and discuss their work for a public audience.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Adrian Matejka and Pushcart Prize winner Rachel Kadish, both Lesley faculty, opened this year’s series at Marran Theater on June 23, drawing a packed house as they read from their acclaimed new works.

The summer reading series, which is part of our MFA Creative Writing Program’s summer residency, also featured featuring visiting authors Lolita Hernandez and Jo Knowles as well as Lesley professors Doug Bauer, Barry Brodsky, Chris Lynch and Kyoko Mori.

Adrian Matejka speaks about his new work of poetry "Map to the Stars"
Adrian Matejka speaks about his new work of poetry "Map to the Stars"

“Map to the Stars”

Alumna Heather Hughes introduced Adrian Matejka and his latest book of poetry, “Map to the Stars,” calling him the “nicest man in poetry.”

“It’s so incredibly layered and so incredibly engaged with so many facets of the world,” she said.

The autobiographical poetry collection spans seven years of the author’s childhood, from 1981 to 1988, including his journey from Section 8 housing in Indianapolis to life in the suburbs, from hunger to wanting for nothing. Along with references to “Star Wars” and ’80s pop culture, the city plays a major part in “Map to the Stars.”

Even if you’ve never been to Indianapolis, Matejka said understanding his book only requires knowing that “there are a lot of cities with a lot of poor people in them.”

The poems juxtapose shootings and basketball games in the city with the “strange celestial roads” of the suburbs and backyard barbeques. Recalling the first cookout he attended, Matejka writes, “We want Prince but ‘Rumors’ keeps repeating itself.”

A smiling Rachel Kadish reads at a podium on the stage.
Rachel Kadish reads from her latest novel "The Weight of Ink."

“The Weight of Ink”

Fleetwood Mac doesn’t figure into Rachel Kadish’s work, but her new novel does feature characters in unfamiliar circumstances – one a 17th century Jewish woman and scribe from Amsterdam who moves to London with a blind rabbi, and the other an aging historian in the present trying to conceal an illness while uncovering a mystery.

Sarah Kilgallon and Mariya Taher, both alumnae of the MFA Creative Writing Program and advisees of Kadish, introduced the author and her new book, “The Weight of Ink.”

“Rachel created a wonderful fabric of characters,” said Kilgallon. “I tried to read slowly, but it was keeping me up and driving me crazy.”

Before penning “The Weight of Ink,” it had a similar effect on Kadish.

“I often start writing when something is bothering me and I don’t know why,” she said. Her initial writing session became the prologue of her novel, which Kadish shared at the reading.

The story volleys between the past and present as one character pens a manuscript that is discovered some 350 years later.

Reaching back multiple centuries meant Kadish had to do extensive research about 17th century food, clothing, plumbing and concepts of sex. The end result is a book that has been selected for a number of reading lists this summer, including a “June Book of the Month” by Amazon.

MFA in Creative Writing

Our MFA in Creative Writing is a two-year low-residency degree program that provides rich mentor relationships and interdisciplinary study in six genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing for stage and screen, writing for young people, and the graphic novel and comics.

Our students attend a nine-day residency twice a year, joining an artistic community in craft seminars, workshops, receptions, meals, publishing-related events and the evening readings.