Olive B. O’Connor Fellows Enlighten Aspiring Writers

Olive B. O’Connor Fellows

On Thursday, March 24 the two Olive B. O’Connor Fellows, Thomas Mira y Lopez and D. Janet Thielke shared some of their work with members  of the English department, current and past students and interested Colgate community members in Lathrop Hall. The fellowship program, which is in its sixteenth year, allows aspiring new writers to work on their first books, while teaching college-level courses at Colgate.

“I will say I’ve always kind of resisted thinking of myself as a writer or feeling like I could justify classifying myself that way. I like to think of myself as someone who gets interested in certain questions or problems or stories or images and, right now, writing is the best way I’ve found to follow up on those issues. What’s in part so great and generous about the fellowship is that, once the initial thrill of it has worn away, it does force you to reckon with your writing and your ideas and just what you’re interested in very seriously,” Mira y Lopez said.

Thielke read from a fiction short story she wrote from the perspective of a teenage girl and family trying to start over after the loss of its mother. Mira y Lopez, as a primarily nonfiction writer, shared two excerpts from essays about his interactions with the natural world and how he coped with the loss of

his father.

“I was very impressed with how he was able to weave in so many wacky, interesting stories about his life to contribute to his resting places theme at the end,” sophomore Tucker DePaola said.

Following the readings, there was a question-and-answer section to allow the writers to talk about the writing process and impart any advice they had. The readings fostered an academic environment in which the fellows were able to present their pieces and give advice to aspiring writers.

“One of the things I found super interesting about what we just listened to was how these two people are examples of how you can do exactly what you want to do and be really successful at it, and also use what you want to do to teach and inspire others to do it as well,” sophomore Sarah Brandow said.