Kaldi’s Coffeehouse and Tearoom was packed May 6 as assistant professors of English Cyn Kitchen, Sean Mills and Chad Simpson read from their work.
Students filled every available seat and crowded onto the floor for a chance to hear their professors, all published writers, present their work in an informal setting.
Simpson started off the evening reading three short fiction pieces. He began with “Miracle,” a story about when his brother ran himself over with his car. Following this was “Let X,” which was about the trials of childhood love. Although Simpson’s name was not mentioned explicitly in either story, the emotion in his voice gave the impression that they were both deeply personal.
Simpson finished his portion of the evening with a piece tentatively titled “Obnubilate,” which means “to cloud over.” The story describes the narrator’s mother’s fight with cancer and his attempt to deal with this crisis.
“On my computer, it’s called ‘Mom Triptych,’ but it’s in four parts, so it’s not a triptych anymore,” he said.
Regardless of how it could be categorized, its elegant and seemingly effortless parallels between the cancer and other aspects of the mother and son’s lives earned him a round of applause. Mills commented that it would be difficult following Simpson.
Mills read from the beginning of a novel he started writing earlier this year titled Chronicle of Higher Education.
“It’s about a backdoor academic who gets a job at the School for College, which caters to students with ‘different’ academic needs,” he said.
Mills’ excerpt provided a window into the world of higher education administration as well as an interesting take on modern-day trends at colleges and universities. It seemed that there was no need for Mills to fret about having to follow Simpson.
Finally, Kitchen read part of her story “Ten Tongues,” which will be included in a short story collection of the same name to be released later in the year.
“The reason I chose it is because I’ve never read any portion of [the] story for an audience and I kind of thought that the people [at the reading] might not mind getting a taste of what’s coming out in the book,” she said.
According to Kitchen, “Ten Tongues” will explore the darker side of human nature while simultaneously highlighting humanity’s capacity for good.