Reading series offers platform for writers


CW/ Kallie Chabla

Jared Ferguson, contributing writer

Sharing one’s work can be a trial for many, but throughout the course of the fall semester, the University of Alabama has provided a platform for aspiring writers.

The department of English hosted a reading at Sella-Granata Art Gallery for students seeking to receive their master of fine arts degree. The reading marked the end of the event, which has been hosted for students in the creative writing department since September 19. At the event, five first-year graduate students read a variety of works composed by them, from prose to poetry for a small audience.

The MFA reading is meant primarily to help first-year students introduce their work to a sample audience to further their aspirations as creative writers.

Sandra Barnidge, a first-year graduate student in the creative writing program, discussed the piece she shared at the event, “Mullenville 82,” and its relevance.

“It is about a fictional small town that tries to recruit new residents from big cities,” Barnidge said. “So, they pay money, build houses, sell cars and do all sorts of things to try to persuade young people to come to their town. My story is about a young couple that accepts one of these packages, moves to this small town, and we see what happens from there.”

Barnidge also discussed her inspiration for the story.

“I was taking a drive last year down to Gulf Shores,” Barnidge said. “I drove most of the length of Alabama when I saw many small towns and many dilapidated old buildings that were remnants of clearly vibrant small towns in the past. I started thinking about what the world might be like if those small towns had made it and how could they have competed with some of the larger cities.”

Jackson Saul, a second-year graduate student in creative writing and the administrative assistant for the department, details the reading’s importance to those seeking a master’s degree in creative writing.

“We have these new entrants to the program and we love to get a sense of their work by giving them a chance to show off their work and become part of our community,” Saul said. “For folks who are leaving the program and have worked hard for three or four years to culminate these projects, they also get a chance to show off their work.”

Saul also gave words of encouragement to those entering the MFA program at the University of Alabama.

“I encourage them to participate in the reading,” Saul said. “We all want to know what their readings sound like and the readings give them the chance to have some fun at this event.”