Plum, Savich to explore meaning in first Writers’ Center reading

Kaitlyn Finchler
Staff writer

Poet-in-residence Zach Savich and prose writer-in-residence Hillary Plum will kick off Week One with the first Writers’ Center reading of the 2023 season at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the Hall of Philosophy.


“I’m glad to have a new book of poems that just came out,” said Savich, an author, poet and chair of liberal arts at the Cleveland Institute of Art and program faculty with the University of Arts Ph.D. in Creativity. “I’m looking forward to sharing the work from that collection.”

The book, The Motherwell Sonnets, describes what poetry can learn from abstract expressionism, mainly from the work of American painter Robert Motherwell.

“I’ll also share work that demonstrates some of the themes that my workshop will focus on, which concern poetic form and the ways in which poetic music can lead to new insights,” Savich said. 


Savich will deliver a poetry workshop, titled “Sound and Rhythm and Music and Noise: Playing with Poetic Form,” while Plum will have a prose workshop, titled “How to Start,” throughout the week. 

Each week, the Writers’ Center hosts a poet and prose author to deliver the Sunday reading, weekly workshops and Tuesday and Friday Brown Bag lectures, respectively.

Plum, an author, poet, professor in the NEOMFA program at Cleveland State University and associate director of the CSU Poetry Center, has previously taught at Chautauqua in 2020 virtually and in-person in 2022. 

The Week One prose writer-in-residence was originally Beth Loffreda, but due to a last-minute change in scheduling, Sony Ton-Aime, the Michael I. Rudell Director of Literary Arts, reached out to Plum.

“She was my professor when I did my master’s degree and she is a master; really an amazing poet and essayist and novelist,” Ton-Aime said.

Ton-Aime said the path to delivering a poetry or prose workshop is a lengthy and competitive process, as the Writers’ Center has a constant flow of authors interested in coming to Chautauqua. For first-time writers-in-residence, Ton-Aime will schedule them for an online workshop in the off-season — as was Savich’s experience — before they come to the grounds during the season for the first time. 

“I love how programs like this give people a chance to think about what matters, to think about their own lives and especially to talk to one another in ways we usually don’t,” Savich said. 

Along with this, Savich said he likes how the Writers’ Center readings allow attendees to dive into topics, ideas and memories for new insight and inspiration even if they don’t take his workshop.

“We look closely at language and that helps us think about the words that run meaningfully through our lives,” Savich said.


The author Kaitlyn Finchler

Kaitlyn Finchler is a journalism and public relations graduate from Kent State University as of May. This will be her second summer at Chautauqua where she will cover literary arts, serving previously as the Interfaith Lecture Series preview reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading, cooking or flipping between “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gossip Girl.” She’s most excited to see how many times she can slip the word “plethora” into her stories before Sara makes her stop again.