Visiting Writers Series to host author Matt Bell

Visiting Writers Series to host author Matt Bell
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The author and teacher Matt Bell is set to be the next featured guest of the Visiting Writers Series. Bell will participate in an upcoming craft talk on Tuesday, April 3 at 12:30 p.m. in Morgan Hall 301, as well as a reading at 7 p.m. at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center. 

While Bell is best known for his fiction novels, he has also written a number of nonfiction, humor and poetry pieces. His latest works include the novels, “A Tree or a Person or a Wall,” “Scrapper” and “In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods.” 

Michelle Meyers, a third-year MFA in creative writing, is a big fan of Bell’s latest novel, “Scrapper.”

“I think it appeals the most to my own kind of taste and aesthetic, as well as being distinctly ‘Matt Bell’,” Meyers said. “I love how immersed I feel in the worlds that he creates in his fictions.”

A discussion about revision in the writing process will be the main topic of Bell's event. Bell will also talk about all the different stages a writer goes through to get to the final manuscript. 

“I’m excited to hear Bell read his work aloud,” said Meyers. “There is something so special about hearing an author read their own words.”

However, this is not Meyers' first time meeting the author. 

“A group of friends and I introduced ourselves to him at the AWP Conference in Washington D.C. last year, where he was on a panel about ‘invented’ words used in writing workshops,” said Meyers. “Bell had a particular term, ‘Frodo-ing,’ which I believe meant having a character get a mild concussion or knock to the head as a way of ending a scene, in reference to Frodo from ‘Lord of the Rings.’”

Each Visiting Writers Series reading holds a bit of mystery because the writers have full control over what they choose to read at these events. 

So, Bell may read some published fiction that is already celebrated, or something brand new which hasn’t been published yet, said Kevin Waltman, the assistant director of creative writing.

Waltman oversees the scheduling, programming, and marketing for the Visiting Writers Series events. 

“He's a gifted and widely renowned author, but he's also a teacher with a deep understanding of how stories are made and how they work,” said Waltman. “I hope students see a great writer and storyteller, but I also hope they benefit from his expertise in teaching and how to think about crafting a story.” 

The Visiting Writers Series is a way for the English Department to bring in nationally and internationally renowned authors to The University of Alabama. The program serves to enrich the creative writing culture within the department, University and community as a whole.

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