On Wednesday, February14, the DePauw Creative Writing Faculty members hosted the Kelly Writers Series event in Peeler Auditorium, marking the inaugural reading of the series in the Spring semester. Six professors, committed to language and students expressing their interest in creative writing, were in attendance. The students from the English department introduced their professors in order, emphasizing their talent and contributions in writing. The event allowed the professors to present their works publicly and express gratitude to their beloved on Valentine’s Day. The speakers were English Professors Joe Heithaus, Samuel Autman, Gregory Schwipps, Deborah Geis, Ivelisse Rodriguez, and Eugene Gloria. 

At the beginning of the talk, Elijah Clark ‘24, a senior majoring in education studies, introduced Professor Joe Heithaus as the first speaker: “Professor Heithaus is just honestly one of the best professors I’ve ever had here, probably my favorite.” After the brief introduction, Professor Heithaus read six poems in his collection, which he regarded as significant memory in his life. The first poem, “Fire,” focused on the eclipse. Heithaus referred to it as “A poem about the light, a poem about the heart, a poem about love, and another eclipse.”  

The poem “Fire” explores the emotions of being drowned in shadow, the desire to escape, and the struggle to connect with a loved one. Heithaus claimed that this poem “inspires me in different ways” since eclipse is the main source of inspiration in his works. Heithaus continued reading by introducing the poem, “After hearing my spine crunch when the dean of students landed on my head,” describing an accident in a basketball match that led him to wear a stiff neck pull-up. The rest of his poetry collection focused on depicting pain and solitude, a way in which he could expose his wounds without shame or apprehension. 

Following Heithaus was the introduction of Professor Samuel Autman, who has been described as a man who “always carries words in his hands.” Nina Thompson ‘24, a senior majoring in English writing,  praised her professor, saying, “He now teaches the senior seminar students to break free from genre labels, to break free from expectations, to unlock the truth of beautiful writing, to invent and to breathe.” As a former journalist, Professor Autman realized the importance of emotional truth not only in news but also in fiction. His short story “Unholy Ghosts” reveals an ambivalent feeling of the narrator to his father’s death, reflecting the complexities of relationships, religion, and upbringing. 

Professor Schwipps and Geis stirred the atmosphere with their sense of humor through Scwipps’s non-fiction “Fourth and Fifty-One” and Geis’s abecedarian poem “Ten Questions for Jack Kerouac.”

 “I want to talk about my boys in this work,” Schwipps said. “They are going to grow up in a world when AI generates writing, and I just want them to at least see a few moments where all the writing was just generated by us.” Geis also shared her belief that slam poetry or performance poetry is powerful in the world revolving around AI.

The talk came to an end with the short story “Love War Stories” by Professor Ivelisse Rodriguez and four poems by Professor Eugene Gloria in celebration of the Lunar New Year. Both writers brought Latin and Asian culture into the works.. 

Evelyn Vo ‘27 said, “The talk was so interesting and captivating. This is the first time I have joined a Kelly Writer Series reading, and I was so impressed with every work presented tonight. The professors' sharing was hilarious and insightful.” 

The Kelly Writers Series will continue on March 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Thompson Recital Hall with novelist S. A. Cosby.