Prior Performing Arts Center Houses Working Writers Series

Nicole Letendre ‘23

Chief Features Editor

On February 2nd, the Prior Performing Arts Center hosted the Working Writers Series, in which authors Xu Xi and Leila Philip read excerpts from their respective books, Monkey in Residence and Beaverland. In addition to the literary readings, the English department also took this opportunity to congratulate Professor Oliver de la Paz on his title of Worcester’s Poet Laureate. The event included readings from both women, among an audience of academic peers as well as students. These women spoke about their literary interest with passion and insight. Along with being accomplished writers, both women are also professors in the Holy Cross English department. Ms. Xi’s book Monkey in Residence includes a collection of short stories, centered around Hong Kong. At times heartbreaking, she weaves a captivating story that explores culture, girlhood, and many other topics. As a work of nonfiction, Beaverland by Leila Philip presents a different narrative, which focuses on the beaver as a fascination that has existed for thousands of years and is rooted in the indigenous culture. Philip extensively researched her topic, and it was wonderful to hear her speak with such passion for her project. Growing out of a small interest in a backyard beaver, Philip nurtured her idea into the creation of Beaverland—a hugely popular book that has gained all kinds of positive publicity. Both authors spoke about the beginning of their projects—a small idea or incentive that turned into a passion project. Both women are inspiring, as they follow their interests and allow it to guide them towards fresh and creative literary endeavors. Overall, the Working Writers Series is a wonderful expression of literary creativity and success. The beautiful Prior Performing Arts Center was a fitting location for the event, as it is open and airy, allowing for a successful reading. Both authors are active in their discipline, having taken a small spark of inspiration and then running with the idea.  If you would like to learn more about each of the authors, please visit their respective websites: Xu Xi, xuxiwriter.com and Leila Philip, leilaphilip.com/beaverland-1.

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