Writers talk shop at Lions in Winter


Fiction writer Vu Tran talks during a Q &A session at Lions in Winter.

Jordan Boyer, Photo Editor

Students heard from experienced writers and shared their own work at the Lions in Winter literary festival Saturday. 

Poet CM Burroughs, non-fiction writer Rachael Hanel and fiction writer Vu Tran held public readings of their work and had craft talks with guests. 

The authors sold their works at the festival and signed copies for those present.

“I really liked the memoir reader (Hanel),” Jamie Newell, a local resident, said. “She had a really interesting background, and what she’s been able to pull from the background is fascinating.”

Burroughs gave two presentations after Hanel spoke. She read a few of her poems and had a Q&A forum with the audience. 

“I always return to the (human) body,” Burroughs said about meanings and motifs in her work, in which she expresses gratitude for her own body. “It’s a darn solid feature in everything.”

Jordan Boyer
Poetry writer CM Burroughs answers questions during a Q&A session Saturday morning in the Doudna Fine Arts Center’s Recital Hall.

Burroughs’ work, written in second person, was the first of its kind Jackson Bayer, a junior English major, recalled hearing or reading.

“To take away kind of the ego that she would have writing about herself in the first person, she did stuff like that that was kind of different,” Bayer said.

Burroughs took to poetry to express her grieving process after her younger sister died when they were children. She read the poem during the festival, which Ja’wan Emmons, a sophomore English major, was impressed by.

“Just speaking about grief like that is a pretty talented way to think of it and look at it, because grief is such a hard topic to write about,” Emmons said.

Tran released his first book, “Dragonfish: A Novel,” in 2016. 

“Dragonfish” centers on a cop unraveling the secrets of his ex-wife’s past.

“I never thought my first book would be a crime or noir novel,” Tran said. “Noir is about the incomplete information in the shadows.”

Among other advice, Tran provided the audience with a strategy to combat writer’s block. “Go watch a movie; listen to music. That helps me,” he said.

Jordan Boyer
Guests laugh with each other during the lunch break Saturday afternoon at the Lions in Winter literary festival.

Julia Rea, an Eastern alumna who now works with the Coles County Arts Council, said the craft talks were beneficial to her as a beginning writer.

“To learn the “how-to” and learn how to make things flow, and how to connect with your reader, is really helpful,” Rea said. 

Dana Ringuette, the festival director, expressed the importance of the festival.

“I just love all these people coming together to hear really good writers, not only to hear their writing, which I think is important, too, but also the craft talks, where people can learn more poetry, about writing fiction, about writing nonfiction,” Ringuette, the English department chair, said.

 Jordan Boyer can be reached at [email protected] or at 581-2812.