Van G. Garrett, Jimin Han begin Writers’ Center week with readings

Van G. Garrett

Van G. Garrett and Jimin Han are beginning their time as the Writers’ Center Faculty for Week Three with a reading at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the Hall of Philosophy.

Garrett is the author of 13 books, and the winner of the 2020 Poetry Question Chapbook Contest with his book Scrap. His book 49: Wings and Prayers, was the winner of the Best Book of African American Poetry in 2017. He was the first student to obtain a graduate certificate in African American Studies from the University of Houston. 

During Sunday’s reading, Garrett will be reading from his book Water Bodies and some new poems, and will also be discussing his writing forms and process. 

“As a poet, I have so much fun trying to just get to the heart of the matter, as opposed to other disciplines,” he said

Jimin Han

Garrett wants to help people realize that poetry can be fun and enjoyable, and that it doesn’t always have to be serious or academic.

Throughout the week, Garrett will be teaching a workshop called “Poetry and Passion: Heartwarming Ideas for Poems and Picture Books” through the Writers’ Center and Special Studies. This workshop aims to guide students in becoming familiar with their writing territories and writing from the heart. He wants the workshop to be very informal and fun, he said, while still being very informative.

“People want to find ways to express themselves in ways that don’t seem so intimidating,” Garrett said. “I want to take some of the guesswork away. I want to give really solid examples, personal examples.” 

Garrett, who has never been to Chautauqua before, is excited to fully experience what the Institution has to offer. 

“I’m looking forward to being there as a participant as well as a workshop leader,” he said.

Han, this week’s prose faculty, returns to Chautauqua for a third time with the Writers’ Center, and this year as the guest judge for the 2024 Janus Prize. She will be leading a workshop called “Our Lives, Our Stories” this week that will focus on helping attendees decide what material will resonate with their readers, and what to include in their stories. 

She wants to use the workshop as an opportunity for “each writer to figure out what matters to them … and who their reader is.”

Han is the author of A Small Revolution, and The Apology, which was chosen as a Barnes and Noble Discovery Pick, named Best Book of the Summer by multiple publications, and was named the Best Audiobook of the Year by Booklist. She now teaches at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, Pace University, and community writing centers.

Han was inspired by her mother’s death to write The Apology, and returned to conversations they had about her mother’s beliefs about the afterlife — beliefs that stemmed from her Korean culture. Han, who grew up in Jamestown, said she’s excited to read from The Apology during Sunday’s reading, and share it with fellow Chautauquans. 

“Those were pretty formative years for me and my mother. … It’s really special to read from the book because it has so much of her,” she said. “We didn’t go to Chautauqua Institution all that much, a few times, and it was always special.”

Tags : 49: Wings and PrayersA Small RevolutionJimin HanPoetryPoetry and Passion: Heartwarming Ideas for Poems and Picture BooksScrapThe ApologyVan G. GarrettWater BodiesWriters Center

The author Sabine Obermoller

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