Acclaimed author Heidi Julavits wsoke about her wide variety of work in the Poetry-in-the-Round on April 4.
Cara Adams, an assistant professor of English and director of Poetry-in-the-Round, gave Julavits a warm welcome and shared a short synopsis of Julavits’ works and accomplishments before Julavits held the floor.
Julavits has written four novels. According to the Seton Hall website, her work, “The Vanishers,” is a The New York Times Notable Book and winner of the PEN New England Fiction Award.
The Faculty Lounge was filled with attendees. Julavits began with a colorful anecdote about a New York native getting stuck in the bathroom of a bar and rescued by her Midwestern cousin.
Julavits then jumped into her work, sharing an excerpt from her most recent novel, The New York Times Notable Book “The Folded Clock: A Diary.”.
She shared a narrative of two “elderly grifters” she met while in Florence, Italy, whom she was convinced were liable for credit card fraud. She had first met the couple at a car rental, and they had forgotten their credit cards at home. Julavits could not comprehend how the couple had taken a trip to Italy, paid for a hotel room, and rented a car – all without realizing that their wallets were considerably lighter.
She then proceeded to conjure all the possible reasons why they were frauds. Her biggest piece of evidence was the fact that, after nearly 50 years of being married, the wife was not mad at the husband for forgetting the credit cards, which left the crowd laughing.
While the tone of her diary entry was serious and highlighted much of her musing nature, she intertwined the piece with humor.
The reading was followed by a question and answer session. She talked about her writing process, in which she stated the composing of “The Folded Clock: A Diary” was not written chronologically. She had printed all her pages out and sorted them into categories until they all collapsed together.
Julavits compared it to putting together a mixtape, trying to find the right mood for certain entries.
She claimed she had a “diaristic impulse” to pen the piece. She was tired of how she had been writing fiction, as she had done it so many times in the same way. This time, she wanted the beginning, middle and end to have a different shape.
Taylor Parkinson, a freshman nursing major, said she enjoyed the event. She noted Julavits as someone who “goes through life wanting to know all the details” and took note of the author’s avid curiosity.
Vanessa Colmenares, a freshman biochemistry, molecular biology and philosophy major, drew parallels in the author’s work and her delivery.
“I think the manner in which Julavits spoke at the event reflected the same tone of her work from her novel,” she said. “I really thought her piece was well-written.”
Elie Jean Pierre, a sophomore philosophy major, thought very highly of Julavits, calling her “very accomplished,” as her short stories were well-known and successful.
“She was really passionate in the way she spoke, especially with her tone,” Pierre said. “She was also really entertaining with her humor, and it was serious and funny at the same time.”
Kristel Domingo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.