About the Living Writers Series

Photo Credits: Miranda Anapol

What is it?

The Living Writers Series (LWS) is a live reading series organized especially for the Creative Writing Program community at UCSC. There is a new series each quarter, and each series features writers with unique voices. The LWS is open to all creative writing students and the public. The series features award-winning, professional, contemporary writers and cross-genre artists and celebrates diversity and inclusion.


Why is it important?

The Creative Writing Program at UCSC is small, and we want to expose students to a wide range of writers, to their different styles, preoccupations, writing processes, and to the ways they are writers in the world. (Is the writer a professor, a postal carrier, or a journalist?) We also want to create a community of writers at UCSC and connect that community to the larger writing world. This is a special honor and privilege that many universities do not offer. We learn from other writers by hearing them read and discuss their work. At the end of the quarter, students from each creative writing class also have the opportunity to present their work.


Why go to the Living Writers Series? 

Students who love to read and write have an opportunity to hear the work of outstanding contemporary authors, and have an opportunity to talk with them about their practice, and about what it’s like to live the writing life. It’s also a good way to observe how a wide variety of writers present their work to an audience. Many people don’t care about poetry and fiction, but in that auditorium, you are surrounded by people who do.


How should students prepare to attend the Living Writers Series? 

If you’re enrolled in a creative writing class, you should read an excerpt from the writer’s work (provided by your instructor) before attending the reading. This is your chance to find out more about the writer, their process, and their work. Come prepared with questions.


What should students do there? 

Keep your senses open. Notice how the writers read their work, how they present themselves, what they emphasize. Take notes, write down phrases, questions, images, things you don’t like and things you do. Silence and put away your cell phone to avoid distractions. If you start daydreaming, it’s okay, but come back to the present. Ask questions about the writing or the writing life during the question and answer session.


What kinds of questions are great to ask?

Students often ask a wide range of questions about the writer's process, inspiration, and advice for emerging writers. Frequently, students will ask, "What inspired you to write this text?" "What advice do you have for new writers?" Another great idea is to focus on a particular moment in the writer’s work or their reading and to ask them to talk about it.