For the last few years, professor Erica Dawson has had the privilege of running the Writers at the University (WAU) series here at UT. Twice a year, Dawson hosts writers who are on the Florida Literary Arts Coalition (FLAC) writer’s circuit. Writers such as novelist Larry Baker and poet Laura McCullough go on a tour that makes stops at eight Florida schools from the University of Miami up to Flagler. Dawson also has the opportunity to invite other independent writers to come read to the students of UT.
“This is a great way for me to introduce our students and campus community to both established and up-and-coming authors,” Dawson said. The next WAU event is Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery. The visiting authors are UT’s own professors Andy Plattner and Don Morrill.
Plattner is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the English & Writing Department. He received his Bachelors degree from Kansas Newman College and his Masters and Doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi. His short story collection Winter Money, published in 1997, won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. He has since published A Marriage of Convenience (2011) and most recently Offerings from a Rust Belt Jockey (2014) which won Dzanc Book’s inaugural Mid-Career Novel Prize. Plattner grew up around horse racing, which ended up greatly influencing his writing career. Plattner is a long-time horse racing journalist, and all three of his short story collections are centered around racetracks.
Morrill is the Associate Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies, as well as a professor in the English & Writing department. He received his Bachelors and Masters degree from Drake University and his Doctorate from the University of Florida. Morrill has published four books of nonfiction, The Untouched Minutes winning the River Teeth Nonfiction Prize and Sounding for Cool winning the American Library Association/AAUP “Best of the Presses” Award. He is also the author of three volumes of poetry, Awaiting Your Impossibilities, With Your Back to Half the Day and At the Bottom of the Sky. Morrill focuses his poetic writing on the mature themes of life such as mortality, love, grief, resilience, and experiences everyone can relate to.
Whether the visiting writer is a professor at UT, an author just getting their foot in the door of the writing world, or a well-established crowd pleaser, Dawson is always thrilled to be hosting them.
“Running a reading series like this is a way to help our students understand that literature is not only alive and well, but accessible and contemporary, and crazy fun,” Dawson said. “Some of my best UT memories are of WAU guests and students talking about generating ideas as if they’re classmates sitting around a workshop table.”
Kara Delemeester an be reached at Kara.firstname.lastname@example.org.