Best-selling author visits campus

AnnMarie Kent

Best-selling author, Leslie Jamison, did an essay reading from her emotional collection of works, in the UC last Tuesday, connecting well with the audience and inspiring NMU English majors.

Jamison is a nationally-acclaimed author. whose second book debuted April 2014 as No. 11 on the New York Times bestseller list.re-leslie_jamison

She is labeled as a creative-nonfiction writer and uses fictional literary styles and techniques as a way to illustrate her real past experiences.

When asked about her inspiration to write Jamison talked about how she felt herself questioning everything.

“I write pieces that are grounded in personal experience,” Jamison said. “Those are almost always motivated by some sense of uncertainty or questioning.”

The excitement in the Ontario Room on Sept. 8 was motivated by the connection many students felt to Jamison and her work before even meeting her or hearing her reading.

Third-year MFA candidate Matt Weinkam spoke about the way Jamison connects to her audiences by opening up and revealing her raw emotions.

“[Jamison’s] essays explore what exactly we mean by empathy and how we try to understand each other’s pain,” Weinkam explained. “She is such a talented writer and so willing to expose her own experiences of pain I think anyone who reads her work connects with it.”

At the reading Jamison talked about the way she accepts who she is, in all her failures and her human flaw.

She has a tattoo running down her left forearm that reads “Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto.” Translated from Italian to English it reads “I am a man; nothing human is alien to me.”

Jamison said that to her this means embracing who she is and understanding exactly what it meant to be a human and to make mistakes. She uses her writing as a sort of reconciliation but also considers herself a force of chaos.

When talking about his first experience reading Jamison’s work, Weinkam expressed just how much of an advocate he became for the book because he wanted people to read and understand Jamison.

“When I read the book I couldn’t shut up about it,” Weinkam said. “As soon as I was finished I pushed it into friends hands, insisting they read it too so we could talk about it.”

More than just her writing, Weinkam boasted about Jamison as a person. At her book signing after the event, Jamison asked fans to sign the copy of her book from which she reads to audiences.

“The [book] she read from at the reading was full of notes and messages from fans along her reading tour,” Weinkam said. “I wrote a little note thanking her for her visit, and it made me feel famous even though she’s the bestseller.”

Humanizing herself makes her a real person to her audience, and can create a deeper connection with her fans.