Giffels, Metres to open week of Brown Bags, workshops with reading

Giffels and Metres

Kaitlyn Finchler
Staff writer

Whether someone is contemplating human existence or buying a condemned house in Akron, Ohio, writing has its place. 

Week Seven’s poet-in-residence Phillip Metres and prose writer-in-residence David Giffels will explore both of these topics and share their writing during a Writers’ Center reading at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the Hall of Philosophy.

Metres will read from a variety of recent and forthcoming books, including Shrapnel Maps, Sand Opera and to-be-released Fugitive/Refuge.

“I usually try to (read) a mix between poems that I know really have an impact on people and poems that I’m not sure about,” Metres said. “One thing that I always try to have happen in the reading is for people’s expectations to be disrupted in some way.”

Giffels — who bought the condemned house in Akron — will be reading his memoir All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House, which details he and his wife trying to save the house from collapse.

“(All the Way Home) seems to always appeal to general audiences,” Giffels said. “We moved into this chaotic, extreme old house situation, and it’s the story of what happens next.”

Metres is a translator, essayist and poet who has published eight collections of poetry and numerous other works; his first book of criticism, Behind the Lines, received the International PeaceWriting Award.

It’s not hard to tell when someone is writing to get paid versus for personal gratification, Metres said. He allows himself to explore his artistic expressions and obsessions through poetry.

“I’ve been lucky enough to move toward and along that river of my own curiosity, wonder, consternation and ultimately, joy,” he said.

On the other hand, Giffels found writing “by fate.” He started out as a journalist at the Medina Gazette and Akron Beacon Journal. The author of six nonfiction works, he’s a professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program.

“When I finished my graduate degree in creative writing, I didn’t really expect to work for a newspaper, but that’s the job I got,” he said.

Reporting on the industrial Midwest led Giffels to introduce these themes in his own writing and “everything else evolved from there.”

Both Giffels and Metres will lead five-day workshops throughout the week, focusing on place and hermit crab poems, respectively. They’ll also deliver Brown Bags for the Writers’ Center on Tuesday and Friday.

Rather than being work-intensive, Giffels said his workshop aims to “intellectually refresh” the participants.

For Metres, poetry is a way “to find home” and the workshop will be a “playful set of engagements” with pre-existing forms.


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.