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       Send story and noteworthy ideas to Jessica Reyes, jmreyes@widener.edu.

      Distinguished Writers Series

      Author Visits English and Creative Writing Department

      Carlie Sisco, English and creative writing, '19

      powell-watts in class

      Stephanie Powell Watts

      Author Powell Watts visited Widener as part of the Distinguished Writers Series.

      Author Stephanie Powell Watts visited Widener Nov. 14 and 15 as a part of the English and creative writing department's Distinguished Writers Series.

      Watts published her debut novel No One Is Coming to Save Us with Ecco in April 2017. Described as "an arresting and powerful novel about an extended African American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream," the novel has been named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly, W Magazine, Nylon, Elle, Redbook, and The Chicago Review of Books.

      In 2011, Watts published a collection of shorts stories with BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City called We Are Only Taking What We Need. This book earned Watts the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. While the reflective quality of the short stories is something Watts is comfortable with, the final story in this collection is what inspired her to begin No One Is Coming to Save Us.

      "No words are lost in a short story, but a novel is very different," Watts said. "It takes you on tangents and you're allowed more space, literally and psychologically, to develop characters in different ways."

      On campus, Watts spent time speaking in creative writing and English classes about her books, her writing process, and answering student questions. She also individually met with several students in the Long-Form Fiction course for tutorials.

      "It's always encouraging to hear from visiting writers about their process, struggles and breakthroughs," said Jennifer Rohrbach, a senior creative writing and English double major. "She gave me great advice about how to round out my characters and ways to develop my overall story."

      Watts concluded her visit with a public reading, which she began by giving a brief overview of how she achieved success as a writer. The visit offered students a great deal of writing advice, as evidenced by one of the anecdotes Watts shared that sparked inspiration in Haley Poluchuck, a senior creative writing and English double major.

      "One thing that stood out to me was a story about Watts and her siblings when they were young, rushing to clean the house before their father came home," Poluchuck said. "Her argument was that you could get a lot done in 10 minutes if you really want to, so we have no excuses not to write. Lately, I've been inspired to dedicate at least 10 minutes to projects I would have otherwise put off."


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