Devyn Forcina ’22
The College of the Holy Cross’s former Jenks Chair of Creative Writing, Robin Hemley, returned to the Holy Cross community on November 5, 2020 as a speaker in the Working Writer Series. This two-part event featured a Craft Talk at 3:30 and a Non-Fiction reading at 7:30.
The Working Writers Series provides an opportunity for students to hear about current writers’ processes for writing and to hear excerpts from their latest works. The series is hosted by the College’s English Department. Usually the events take place in Rehm Library, but this year they are being held virtually, on Zoom. The platform has worked well, with many attendees utilizing the Q&A feature to elicit rich conversation.
Robin Hemley is not only a highly-achieved non-fiction and fiction writer, but is also a world traveler. His works focus on “nationalism”, “patriotism”, and “belonging to some collective or another” (Hemley). He writes with a worldy, reflective, and empathetic approach that questions the meaning of place, and the meaning of being of a place.
At the Non-Fiction reading, Robin read an excerpt from his most recent book, Borderline Citizen, which was published in March of this year. You can read the excerpt here.
During the Q&A I had the opportunity to ask Robin a question about how limited travel during COVID-19 has impacted how he writes or what he writes about. He responded that COVID-19 has allowed him to spend time in Iowa with his family, and that this has been “a contemplative break from [his] travels; I don’t regret it at all” (Hemley).
Other questions prompted conversation about Americans travelling abroad, the importance of reflecting on travel, and how you do not need to travel a lot to be an effective writer.
Thank you, Robin, for sharing your work and your insight during our Working Writers Series. If you missed this particular event, stay tuned for upcoming events in the series!