A Reflection on Listening: Thanks to Mike Lala and Rachel Hall
Mar 03, 2017
By Colorado Review Editorial Assistant Kristin Macintyre
A few days ago I, along with the literary community at Colorado State University, had the honor of listening to two writers read their work at the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art on campus. Rachel Hall, a visiting fiction writer from SUNY-Geneseo, read a beautiful short story from her collection, Heirlooms, while Mike Lala read from his award-winning new book, Exit Theater. The museum gallery was full of students, faculty, and local community members, all eager to listen to the words of authors we admire. Hall and Lala read to us in a space designated for art, and the white walls—paintings and artifacts all around—gave the space a somewhat magical overtone. As their voices echoed over and through the art and the audience, I couldn’t help but sit upright, honored and humbled to be in their presence, and to be a part of the team of MFA interns at the Center for Literary Publishing.
You may know that the Center for Literary Publishing published Lala’s book last year, as he was chosen by Tyrone Williams for the 2016 Colorado Prize for Poetry. Before he read to the audience, Lala thanked and acknowledged some of my peers and colleagues for their diligent work on his first book, and I was gently reminded that our work as students affects great change in the larger literary community. As a first-year MFA student, I am easily submerged in my own writing, reading, and academic rigor. Hearing Lala’s breath, full of cadence and political gunpowder, gave me a chance to absorb and reflect on what it means to call myself a student of writing. Of course I write, type, edit, choose one word and then delete it, pull my hair out a bit, and cry when the time comes to title my work. But it also means that I am a reader, a listener, an audience member. It means that I value my ears as much as my tongue.
As the semester reaches a boiling point, I am all but overwhelmed with reading and writing, teaching and interning. I am grateful to be reminded—at readings, at potlucks with friends, at workshop, and at the Center for Literary Publishing—that it is my joy to see literary greatness manifest in the world. Our work as editors means that we get to be the conduit through which the author loves her community, and through which the community loves their author. Each new publication is both a manifestation of this love and a contribution to the whole of the dynamic literary community.
I want to extend a small thank-you to Rachel Hall and Mike Lala for their time, voices, and inspiration. You can check out Lala’s work here, and Hall’s here! Lastly, to see Lala read in-person in your town, check his Exit Theater tour details here.