Debra Spark: Writing in a Time of Disaster
“Why write?” Alex Chee asked after 9/11, questioning not the content of his writing but the very point of putting pen to paper. How do we understand our vocation or make any sort of meaning when confronted with the tragedies of our times, the daily horrors that seem so annihilating of all other concerns? A global pandemic, gun violence, massive economic injustice, and environmental apocalypse. It used to be, as Ecclesiastes has it, “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever.” But what if the earth doth not abideth? What does that mean for our efforts? This lecture will move between 1920s and 2020s Paris and reference the following texts: Pat Barker’s Regeneration, Moshin Hamid’s East West, Olga Tokarczuk’s 2019 Nobel Prize speech, and Jenny Offil’s Weather.
DEBRA SPARK is the author of five books of fiction, including Unknown Caller, The Pretty Girl, and Good for the Jews. Other books include Curious Attractions: Essays on Fiction Writing,and the anthology Twenty Under Thirty. Her second book of essays on writing, And Then Something Happened, was released in August 2020. She also frequently writes book reviews, personal essays, and articles on home and design. She teaches at Colby College and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.