Ohio Wesleyan welcomed author Caryl Phillips to campus as this year’s Katherine Kearney Carpenter lecturer, on February 27-28.
OWU English professor, Nancy Comorau, suggested Phillips after hearing about his book tour in the Ohio area.
“Last year, as members of the department discussed whom we should invite for the Carpenter Lecture, I was teaching his novel Crossing the River in my upper-level postcolonial literature class. I thought he would be a good choice because he writes in a number of genres, and the students were really responding to his work,” she said.
Phillips has published four books of non-fiction, 10 fiction novels, a number of published plays, and two anthologies compiled with his edits. Students and other members of the OWU community anxiously awaited his reading on Monday evening, from Colour Me English (2011), a collection of non-fiction essays and assorted prose.
After the reading, a small reception was held where students were able to speak with Phillips.
“Caryl Phillips really enjoyed talking to our students in class, after the Carpenter Lecture and during question and answer sessions, and I think a great number of students got a lot out of the visit,” beamed Comorau. “We, both students and faculty, got to hear a voice from outside of our community, we had the chance to hear from a writer who is working, and we interacted with him or her.”
Another reading by Phillips was held the following day at noon. Afterwards, a students asked how one becomes a distinguished writer. Phillips smiled and replied in his gentle British voice, “If you want to be a writer, read books. Lots of books. Good books. And write a lot, too.”
The Carpenter Lecture Series was established in 1967 with an endowed gift from O. William Carpenter, to honor his wife, Katherine Kearney Carpenter. The generous gift allows the OWU English Department to bring one distinguished author to campus each year to give a reading for students and faculty campus-wide. Former speakers of this series include Kurt Vonnegut (1997), Michael Pollan (2003), Dave Eggars (2005), and Tobias Woolf (2008).