By Ashley Quintela, Contributor
It’s that time of year again: the University of Nebraska at Omaha is hosting it’s annual Writer’s Workshop Reading Series put together by the Miles Waggener, faculty member and author. On Wednesday nights, from September through November, writers come and share their works with the public.
Admission is free and open to the general public. After the readings, audience members may get copies signed or even purchase the writer’s work on campus.
This year the guest speakers include Novelist Karen Gettert Shoemaker on Sept. 10, Poet and Translator Carl Phillips on Sept. 17, Memoirist Sue William Silvermanon on Oct. 8, Fiction Writer and Essayist Charles D’Ambrosio on Nov. 5 and Novelist Margaret Lukas and Poet Cat Dixon on Nov. 19.
Dixon is a former student of UNO and was a persistent viewer of past workshops. Now the roles are reversed as Dixon takes the stage.
“It’s an honor to be asked as I studied at UNO for my BFA and attended the reading series events as a student,” Dixon said. “I’m grateful to Miles and the Writer’s Workshop for this opportunity.
According to UNO Creative Writing Teacher and Novelist Aaron Stueve, a captivated audience is a good audience.
“Students should go to these workshops,” Stueve said. “Seeing writers read to a captive audience is one of the greatest things for a writer to experience. It helps put a face on how cool it can be to wear that amazing label, ‘writer.’”
Through readings, writers gain exposure and work their way up. Every writer starts somewhere, and Dixon appreciated every moment she had to get her name out there because she knew of the opportunities that lay ahead.
“I gave a reading at the Blue Flamingo back in 2009,” Dixon said. “It had been a snowy day and there weren’t as many people as expected, but after the reading, I ended up meeting another writer who I probably never would have met and developed a friendship based on teaching and writing. After another reading, an audience member found my email address and contacted me about my poems. It’s wonderful to build those connections. Plus, it’s nice to have the ego stroked.”
Dixon will be reading her book “Too Heavy to Carry.” For Dixon, writing isn’t simply a way to get her name out there but rather a way of expression and sharing real life struggles.
“After going through a terrible divorce and becoming a single mother, I thought for a time that life was just not worth it,” Dixon said. “I imagine that some of the poems will resonate with others who have survived those kinds of struggles. The last poem in the book focuses on the idea that there is always hope even if the one you love is far away. God has a plan for all of us whether we can see it now or not.”
For 40 years, the UNO Reading Series has made it possible for published authors to share their experiences with the community.
“I will attend as many of them as I can,” Stueve said.
Though the series only runs for a short period of time, the visiting writers will be anxious to share their work with a captive audience.
“Any exposure for a poet is good exposure,” Dixon said.