Writer Sarah Viren virtually visits English Department

Ellen McAllister

Contributing Writer


It is not every day that you get the chance to hear an award-winning author read and speak about their work, but students and faculty at the College had the opportunity to do just that. Sarah Viren, a translator, author and journalist, spoke to around sixty members of the campus community on Thursday, Oct. 1 via Microsoft Teams. She also met with Assistant Professor of English Kate Beutner’s creative writing classes the day before. Viren has won countless awards for her work, including the River Teeth Prize and the Great Lakes College Association (GLCA) New Writers Award.

At the beginning of her career, Viren was an award-winning journalist in Florida and Texas for six years. Her articles were published in the Oxford American, Texas Monthly and The New York Times Magazine. She has a masters of fine arts from the University of Iowa and a doctorate from Texas Tech University. In addition, Viren has translated a novella and is co-editing an anthology of essays. She has also written a memoir, Autobiography of Shadows, soon to be published.. Viren comes with lots of writing experience and knowledge, so it was a privilege to have her interact with the students. 

During the online event, Viren read one of her award-winning essays from her collection titled “Mine,” and another unpublished essay. Afterwards, students asked her questions about what inspired her writing career and how she chose her writing topics.

Langston Hood ’23, who was meeting Viren for the second time t, enjoyed listening to her read her work aloud because authors know how their work should sound and where to put accents and pauses in their writing. He also appreciated the level of meaning conveyed by the author which readers may not get when reading it alone. When asked about the event, Beutner said, “I enjoyed both the class visit and her reading because of her thoughtful, engaged answers to student questions, especially regarding the use of detail in creative nonfiction writing and how her background as a journalist shaped her writing life.” Viren talked about writing as a child and how analyzing that work now has also contributed to her writing style and how it has impacted her spirituality.

Overall, Viren was a joy to listen to because she was able to bring new light to her work, discussing why she liked being an author and encouraging students to continue writing and to keep being themselves.

The College often has the winners of the GLCA Award visit campus to speak about their work, and although these events are currently being held remotely, this event proved it can still be entertaining If you enjoyed this event, or want to join the next one, Aaron Coleman, another winner of the GLCA New Writers Award, will be speaking on Oct. 21, 2020. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *