Visiting writers talk about non-fiction

Ira Wood and Marge Piercy

Renowned poet Marge Piercy and her husband, equally renowned novelist Ira Wood, read to an audience Wednesday in the Waterman Theater in Tyler Hall.

Piercy is known for her strong poetic voice, as well as a feministic tone featured in the vast majority of her poems. Her first poem of the evening, "The Long Death," was about the effect of radiation on the body, and the slow death it causes. Piercy was inspired to write the poem following the disaster at the nuclear plant at Three Mile Island in 1979; the poem was read in response to the nuclear situation at the Fukushima power plant in Japan. Many of her other readings were based on feminism; "What Are Big Girls Made Of?" is about how some women "bend" to the will of society through fashion and the media.

Wood shared a narrative non-fiction story about his work as an artist-in-residence within a Detroit school system, and about the challenge of finding ways to engage students during lessons while still keeping things entertaining. The piece, entitled "Mr. Nappy Head," displayed Wood’s self-aware and humorous narrative voice, and demonstrated his ability to entertain in almost any scenario.

Upon being asked about her first book of poetry and how it came about, Piercy recalled how she started writing a manuscript in high school and continuously sent it to publishers until someone accepted it. When asked about how her activism has affected her writing, Piercy responded that they both influence each other.

"Writing is solitary but it comes from everything else," Piercy said.

When asked about advice the two writers had for students attempting to have their creative non-fiction works published, both Wood and Piercy cited constant reading as a crucial strategy.

"Creative narrative nonfiction is a great field to get into," Wood said. "I would say the best thing you can do is read. There is no magic pill, no book, and no class where you can get all of you ideas."

In addition, Piercy hosted a workshop specifically devoted to writing memoirs Thursday morning in the Campus Center.