As a taxi driver in New York City, Sean Singer says he encountered the full range of the human experience.
“It’s New York City, so anything can and does happen,” said Singer, a poet and the Week Nine poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center. “There were people selling drugs, people with escorts, people with new babies, people throwing up, people screaming — all kinds of things.”
Singer’s newest book, Today in the Taxi, is a collection of prose poems written from 2014 to 2020, when Singer worked as a taxi driver.
At 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21 in the Hall of Philosophy, Singer, who will be leading the week-long poetry workshop titled “Creative Reading,” will give a reading from Today in the Taxi to a Chautauquan audience. He will be joined by the novelist and prose writer-in-residence Hilary Plum, whose prose workshop is titled, “Writing Is A Form of Care.”
“I’m going to be reading from my book, Hole Studies,” Plum said. “It’s coming out in October, so I’ll be giving a little preview of that. In part, I’m interested in sharing it because it’s an essay collection, and I’m interested in creative nonfiction. I thought it’d be nice to share my own work in that genre.”
Plum said she wants to emphasize the importance of care and resiliency in writing during her workshop.
“I want us to be thinking about care as a motivation for writing and as something that shapes our approach to writing and our ethics and the projects that we take on,” she said. “For me, that’s a way of describing that book project — Hole Studies — and why I was sparked by a few different artworks and encounters and situations I found myself in.”
One of the pieces of art Plum said inspired an essay in her book was music from the hip-hop group known as the Swet Shop Boys.
“It started with a job I had where I was listening to a lot of music that wasn’t in English that I could listen to while I was editing,” she said. “Then I started listening to the Swet Shop Boys. The essay on them explores the different styles and approaches of the two members of the group, and what it was like to experience a friendship that you’re listening to.”
Plum said that in addition to that essay, Hole Studies includes pieces inspired or influenced by both the literature of the Iraq War and Sinéad O’Connor’s “Saturday Night Live” protest.
“I’m so looking forward to going (to Chautauqua) in person, especially after the remote times,” she said. “It’s going to be wonderful.”