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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    MFA writing students to read works in progress

    MFA writing students  to read works in progress

    Typically on Friday and Saturday nights, Fourth Avenue is buzzing with college kids rambling in and out of bars and restaurants. This well-known nightlife lives in close quarters with an event of a different species altogether. Two or three evenings a month, Casa Libre en la Solana hosts the UA’s Works-in-Progress Reading Series, an entirely autonomous, student-run event. The WIP is a reading performed by three students from the UA’s Master of Fine Arts program to showcase their original works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

    Joel Smith, one of the 2010-11 coordinators of WIP, is proud of Casa Libre and WIP’s unique offering. “”It’s a wonderful counterpoint. We’re right across the street from Maloney’s, but it’s a very different cultural ecosystem,”” Smith said.

    The venue for the graduate students’ reading could not be more fitting. Casa Libre en la Solana is a non-profit organization for writers and artists, working to provide a haven for the intricate community of artists in Tucson. Founded by Kristen Nelson and Ann Fine, Casa Libre is a sprawling commune for writers and artists to meditate on their craft and share with their contemporaries. The WIP came to Casa Libre from Maggie Golston’s former Biblio bookstore on Congress nearly 10 years ago.

    Smith couldn’t be happier about Casa Libre’s involvement. “”The venue is ideal,”” Smith said. “”We showcase the space, and bring people in who wouldn’t normally come to Casa Libre. It’s a sprawling ramshackle artists commune, and they are very generous. It’s a great reciprocal relationship.””

    Smith said the selection process for WIP is very minimal and indiscriminate — students who are interested in reading their work sign up on a voluntary basis. Smith attended two readings before he read his own work at a WIP event. “”We try and balance it out between genres,”” Smith said. “”We like to make sure that people’s personalities and aesthetics are in harmony with each other during the reading.””

    All of the three readers at each WIP are introduced by someone of their choosing — another student, a friend, a romantic partner, a family member. Sometimes the introductions are comedic, sometimes they are sentimental, but the readers are always introduced by someone important to them, just as their writing is integral to their lives. The WIP readings provide a welcoming audience for MFA students to present their best work — work they have labored long over, work that is yet unfinished, work that deserves to be heard.

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