Kirk Nesset carried in his own lamp, adjusted it by the podium, and offered his introducer, Will Brewer, ’11, a job introducing him for his readings across the country the way he did Thursday night for the final Single Voice Reading of the semester.
“[Christopher] Bakken was trying to find introducers at the beginning of the year,” Brewer said. “This one was the last reading of the year, it was Nesset, so I figured it’d be great for both those reasons.”
Fiction writer, poet, professor and translator Kirk Nesset read a few of his own poems and a preview of his new flash fiction, as well as selections from “Alphabet of the World: Selected Works by Eugenio Montejo.”
Nesset opened with his translated works of Montejo, commenting on the challenges that come with interpreting another artist’s work, constantly referring to the difficulty of making a poem “float.”
In order to pay respect to an author, Nesset said, a translator must remain as true as possible to the original poem while also retaining some kind of flow, perhaps by changing certain aspects of the poem.
For one poem, Nesset read both the original Spanish version and his English rendition. The cadence of the Spanish tongue added a different perspective to the translated piece that followed.The translation retained the mood of the Spanish poem, even in English verse.
“All writers try to achieve a distinct voice,” said Will Brewer, ’11, the student who introduced Nesset. “He [Nesset] has found himself a niche that he clicked into that is completely his own.”
His excerpts ranged from a girl who tried on different names like identities, to a complimentary email written on behalf of a lackluster hotel chain. In each story, Nesset’s voice added life to the words on his page.
“The popularity of this series indicates how important it is on campus and how important it is to keep arts funding,” Bakken said.
Bakken was quick to note, however, that the shoestring budget upon which the Single Voice Reading series is based was not the reason they asked Nesset to read.
“We like to once in a while have students share work with the people they study with. It was a nice,” he said.
Next semester the Single Voice Reading series is set to open with the newest addition to the Allegheny creative writing faculty, Matthew Ferrence.