Let’s Talk About Why We Are Really Here, Shall We?
After a few pints of Bulmers, a meal of Irish Stew, and ending the evening with profiteroles (if you don’t know what they are, look them up, they’re little bites of Heaven), we returned to our apartments. At dinner, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Michael McCormack, an Irish author who will teach us during the second half of the residency. I was impressed with his evident literary abilities.
I enjoyed a restful night’s sleep and awoke, ready to prepare for the first class with Michael White. So you know, Michael, the director and creator of the program, rarely, if ever teaches. We were in for a rare treat and were not disappointed. He immediately identified what the primary challenges were with the pieces as well as the strengths. After 2.5 hours of workshopping, we took an hour break and then returned to attend seminars taught by a combination of students and instructors. One of the draws of coming to Galway was the opportunity to teach. At the Enders residency, the students attend workshops in the morning, seminars taught by instructors or graduating students in the afternoon, and then instructor readings in the evening – clearly a fully-packed day. But, in Galway students who are not at the end of their time with Fairfield have the opportunity to teach (I’m teaching on Friday, August 5). This gives us a chance to sharpen our teaching skills and see how our lectures may be received in the future. In Galway, we also perform 20-minute readings in the evening along with our instructors. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never attended a conference or a workshop in which I was allowed to read for that long. Typically, student readings last five minutes.
The seminars by both students and teachers were strong and focused. So far I haven’t been disappointed, although I am a little intimidated at the quality of work and hope that my seminar will be well-received. After the seminars, we broke for dinner or to simply hang out, and then came the readings.
I don’t know if you’ve guessed it or not, but I was among the first students to read at Galway. A high honor that I truly appreciate. For this moment, I decided to do something completely new. You see, my third semester project is to take a non-fiction piece and revise it as fiction. The exercise is to demonstrate the similarities and differences of the two genres. My major is fiction. I decided to read from the non-fiction piece I had just begun writing the day that I left for Ireland. I sat in a classroom chair, in the front of the room and began. “In the summer of 1980, I died at the age of eight.” I had rehearsed the reading with Destinie earlier in the day, so imagine my surprise when I got a little choked up. I looked around the room, as every good reader does, to see some of my friends crying. I wanted to jump out of my chair and tell them not to cry. Look, I’m alive, I thought. A happy ending. By some miracle, I made it through the reading and was quite thrilled when Eva Bourke lightened the mood with her gorgeous poetry. The night ended with a walk through the brisk Irish air to Galway City Centre for food, drinks, and revelry. We had finished our first day of classes at Galway and so far all had been a resounding success.