By Danielle Colburn
Between February 5 and February 13, 46 undergraduate students will read their work aloud to an audience of staff, peers, and family as part of the 21st annual Café Shapiro.
The readings will take place in Bert’s Lounge on the first floor of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library on February 5, 6, 8, 12, and 13 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.
Café Shapiro was first launched just over 20 years ago. It has given students the chance to share their creative work and hear readings from others they might not encounter in class. Participants are nominated by their professors. All submissions are gathered into annual Café Shapiro Anthologies.
For junior Hannah French, this is her first opportunity to read her creative short story to a group. According to French, she likes to write magical realism, sci fi, and slice of life stories. The audience will have the chance to experience this on Monday, February 12, when she reads her story Word Zoo, which portrays “a young boy learning to deal with a speech impediment through a drastic reimagining of his world.”
French started writing early and was encouraged by her parents, who are both writers. Her first endeavor was “a ‘novel’ about a barn rat that teams up with a witch’s cat to go on an adventure and save a little girl,” and she has been writing since then.
Freshman Sebastien Butler is also reading for an audience for the first time—regarding this, he said, “This has always been a dream of mine and I never thought it would happen so soon in my life.” Butler, who is reading on February 5, will be sharing three poems entitled Evening's Empire, Days of Heaven, and Ruminations on Anthologies. Butler prefers to write lyric poems and he tackles a lot of topics, including identity, saying goodbye, dreams, and “the powerful pull people can have on one other.”
Like French, Butler started writing when he was grade-school age. However, he wasn’t serious about it until about 2015, when he started reworking old poems and taking inspiration from such sources as Ginsberg, Eliot, and Heaney. With poetry, Butler says, “you can tap into something pure, unfiltered, and immortal.”
Jean Heng, a junior, will be reading four very short stories on February 5. Her stories were written after a bout of writer’s block—her professor offered her some writing prompts and she ended up with stories that she liked. Heng prefers to work in the short fiction genre; she says “I enjoy writing about the lives of strangers around me.”
This isn’t Heng’s first time reading in front of an audience, but that doesn’t ease her nerves.
Café Shapiro is a great opportunity to listen to the works of talented young writers. Different readers will be featured each night. Plus, there will be refreshments! With five dates to choose from, there are plenty of chances. This event shouldn’t be missed.