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Artists create laughs during Giving Voice

“Heck yes, I’ve seen miracles. I saw people coming out of my wife!” and “I think periods are fascist, actually,” quipped Brian Doyle, as he held the attention of John Brown University students and showed off his gregarious Irish personality during Thursday’s chapel.

Doyle, an award-winning author, essayist, and editor of the University of Portland’s “Portland Magazine,” is here as the creative nonfiction writer for the University’s annual “Giving Voice” festival. Other speakers at the conference include fiction writer Kevin Brockmeier, poet Gwen Hart and songwriter Derren Raser.

A lunch panel discussion allowed students to pick the brains of the guest speakers. They asked questions about the revision process, where the writers get their inspiration from, and what to do about writer’s block.

Doyle told students he has no patience for writer’s block.

“I think it’s rather selfish,” he said. “If you get stuck, then start working on something else. Shoot. Write a letter to your mom, and then just take off the ‘dear mom.’”

In the evening, the artists held a time of reading in the Soderquist Business Center.

Notable pieces from the night included a break-up poem from Gwen Hart concerning the heart-wrenching divide of Barbie and Ken, a short story about finding God’s overcoat by Kevin Brockmeier, Derren Raser’s quest to figure out if “a friend can recover from loving the other” through one of his songs, and a short piece by Doyle about the miracle of a child giving a burial at sea to road kill.

Check next week’s edition of The Threefold Advocate for more about Giving Voice.