Young and professional writers came together this past Thursday for a new public reading event at Blue Agave. The event, created by Ellen O’Connell, a literature lecturer at UCSB’s College of Creative Studies (CCS), features young writers from the college and professional writers from the community.

To an appreciative crowd of about 30 students, faculty members, and interested members of the public, three students and two professional writers, including The Santa Barbara Independent’s own Elizabeth Schwyzer, read poems and essays out loud for an hour. Pieces ranged in length and subject matter from simple poems to touching essays. A few students read narrative pieces of a personal nature, recounting their mother’s close encounter with an brain aneurism or the coming-out letter they wrote to their parents. Schwyzer read three essays on the theme of the body, and Kerrie Kvashay-Boyle finished off this week’s series with a short novella excerpt about kids in a wilderness school for troubled youth.

Afterward, students and faculty milled about together, enjoying the buzz of a good reading and good company. Amy Boutell, who writes fiction and works at UCSB, said the reading “went really well,” and she particularly enjoyed the coming-out letter read by Anthony Yarbrough.

A CCS student, Sean Mabry, opined, “Reading venues are so important for community building.” He doesn’t know when he will do a reading as it is not his decision to make, but he hopes he will soon because “it is so important as a writer to read one’s work out loud.”

The Penny Reading Series meets at 5 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month. Because of Thanksgiving, the group will meet on the third Thursday of November. The cost is five dollars and includes a drink.


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