On Wednesday, April 3rd, the English Department hosted Kiese Laymon for the 2019 Reid Writers of Color Reading Series. Laymon is the acclaimed author of Heavy: An American Memoir, as well as How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and the novel Long Division. Almost 500 students and faculty members attended.
Laymon advised students to write to a specific person rather than attempting to write to the universal and cautioned them that authorial intention does not always translate to compelling work. He also spoke on the unique demands of memoir-writing, such as background interviews and obligatory name changes.
The reading began with an introduction by the English department’s Dr. Scott Poulson-Bryant. Laymon then took the stage to read a chapter titled “Meager,” which centered on his experience as a black child at a predominately white Catholic school.
“I was finally understanding, for all that bouncy talk of ignorance and how they didn’t really know, that white folk, especially grown white folk, knew exactly what they were doing,” he read. “And if they didn’t, they should have.”
Anne Marie Ward, FCRH ‘19, expressed her enjoyment of the craft class and reading.
“It was an unbelievable and surreal experience hearing Kiese speak to us about his work, and I feel so privileged that I had this opportunity as a creative writer,” she said.
Since 2008, the Reid Family Writers of Color Reading Series has brought some of the most celebrated writers of color to Fordham. Events have included readings, master classes and panel discussions. The English Department at Fordham is deeply grateful to the Reid Family for their continuing generosity.