(Photos by Kelly Ocock)
The Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series kicked off the second half of its 2016 – 2017 season with poet Natalie Scenters-Zapico and writer Lauren Acampora. The two read in the John and Dede Recital Hall in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2.
Scenters-Zapico read first to the full crowd after Hope College music students performed before the event. Scenters-Zapico, author of “The Verging Cities,” read poetry inspired by her experience living along the U.S. – Mexico border. Her poems explored the push and pull between the two cultures. For example, her poem entitled “Crossing” examined how the border became more heavily guarded after Sept. 11. Furthermore, pieces such as “Mouth In My Kitchen” described her shame when speaking Spanish instead of English.
Scenters-Zapico also used the event to promote her book “The Verging Cities,” which won the 2016 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award, the National Association for Chicana/o Studies Tejas FOCO Award and was featured as a top ten debut of 2015 by Poets and Writers.
Writer Acampora, whose short fiction has appeared in publications such as The Paris Review, Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, Antioch Review and Day One, read next. She chose to read a section of her collection of short stories entitled “The Wonder Garden,” which details the lives of suburban neighbors. She explained to the audience before reading that she was inspired after moving to West Chester, New York.
“The Wonder Garden,” which was also available to purchase after the event, was named a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and an Indie Next selection. It was also chosen as one of the best books of the year by Amazon and NPR, it won the GLCA New Writers Award, was a finalist for the New England Book Award and was on the longlist for The Story Prize.
The Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series will also host three more writers this semester. Poets Vievee Francis and Matthew Olzmann will visit on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and writer Cristina Henríquez will visit Hope on Thursday, April 6. Visit www.hope.edu/vws/ for more details.