Potter College News
Emerging Author Erin Slaughter Gives a Reading at WKU
- Abbey Gore
- Tuesday, April 18th, 2023
On Thursday, April 13, the English Department’s Creative Writing Reading Series had its last author of the semester come speak with students. Erin Slaughter was a fantastic end to an engaging series throughout the semester.
Slaughter began by explaining some of her background and relation to WKU. She was in the first MFA cohort at WKU before going on to get her PhD at Florida State. Her time in the MFA program at WKU is what inspired many of the short stories from her latest book, A Manual for How to Love Us. Slaughter was elated to be back in Bowling Green and see the place that was so influential to her, calling her MFA program the “sweet spot” of her education with time for exploration and experimentation in her reading and writing.
“These last 24 hours in Bowling Green have felt like coming home,” said Slaughter. “This was the first place that ever felt like home. This building is where my life began.”
Then, Slaughter read a chapter from A Manual for How to Love Us. The chapter is titled "We Were Wolves" and follows along a child as they dive into theirs emotion with the loss of their dog and their foolish hope surrounding such somber situation. It’s a story of grief, the theme of most stories in the book, handling the topic with a vividness and honesty in a way that only her stories can. Walking the line between the everyday and slightly erratic fiction, her characters are emotional, ambiguous, and passionate.
Slaughter encouraged the audience to send out works on their own, saying that many of her own stories were first published in magazines or journals before they were combined to make her book. She also cited the necessity of staying disciplined while writing, especially once she began writing prose. Slaughter also spoke on how she uses the little things in her life to influence her writing, like a design on a carpet or a dog on the side of the road. Each book has a different spark and a different influence but those little details from her life always find a way to fall into place.
“It’s the everyday things that give the stories texture,” said Slaughter.
Slaughter is the co-editor and co-founder of the literary journal The Hunger, and she has published two books of poetry, but her most recent project, her book that came out in March, had a different process. “My revision process has changed a lot with publication, and it’s so great having a good editor," Slaughter said. She noted that one of the perks of writing across genres is that when she gets stuck on one piece, she'll switch to a project in a different genre so that she is constantly writing.
During the Q & A session that followed the reading, Slaughter said she writes with a kind of desperation. She uses fiction, not to censor her feelings, but to help process the emotions. But she does not want to limit the way readers interact with her work.
“However, you read a story is valid, whatever you get from it is valid,” said Slaughter.