New Voices Showcase at Willamette features two Oregon authors

Fiction writer Natalie Serber and poet Stephanie Lenox will read selections of their works as part of the Hallie Ford Literary Series on Oct. 17.

The "New Voices Showcase" begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Hatfield Room of the Hatfield Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Serber’s debut story collection, “Shout Her Lovely Name,” was published last June and has since garnered rave reviews in national publications. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Serber’s collection is “funny and wrenching …. ‘Shout Her Lovely Name’ will reach inside readers and squeeze.”

Lenox teaches poetry at Willamette University and edits the online literary journal, “Blood Orange Review.” She is the author of “The Heart That Lies Outside the Body,” an award-winning poetry chapbook published in 2007. Her debut collection of poems, “Congress of Strange People,” is being published this month.

Lenox says many of her new poems are written in persona, using voices of people other than herself.

“I try on masks to see which ones fit,” she says. “I’ve chosen to write about record-holders in The Guinness Book and other odd characters because I find something relatable in these voices; they’re simultaneously me and not me.”

By hearing readings from two authors, Lenox hopes people will make connections between the different modes of writing.

“Reading a book is a solitary act, but attending a literary reading, such as the New Voices Showcase, is an act of community,” she says. “It’s an exciting opportunity to hear the voice of the author, to engage in the literary experience with the people sitting beside you, and to learn about the creative process through the Q & A at the end.”

The Hallie Ford Literary Series is organized by members of Willamette’s English Department. It features poets, novelists, short story writers and others, who are brought to campus each semester to meet with students and discuss the writing process.

The next presenter is poet David Biespiel, who is visiting Willamette on Nov. 14.