This guest post reflecting on the 2010-11 AiRs was written by D. Travers Scott, an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Clemson University, where he teaches technology and gender studies. His most recent book is Love Hard: Stories 1989-2009 from Rebel Satori Press. http://oneofthesethings.blogspot.com/
My husband and I had only been in South Carolina for a few months, having moved here from Los Angeles, where I was in graduate school, when we first came to HUB-BUB. A new friend had told us about an arts event in Spartanburg, and we were curious to learn more about the arts and cultural community in the Upstate. I’d already read one of the Hub City Press titles – Ed Madden and Candace Chellew-Hodge’s Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio—but was all the more impressed when we arrived that night last fall: art, literature, performance, a press, a new indie bookstore, an artist in residence program, and what looked like an energetic and supportive audience. Nice. Having been an employee, volunteer, and patron of arts organizations in Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, it was a relief and exciting to see the vibrant energy around HUB-BUB.
However, I’ll be honest with you: even though I’m a writer, I generally don’t like readings. I’ve attended and given quite a few over the years. I’m always surprised how many writers are poor public speakers and don’t know how to chose and edit their material. So it was a delight when Corinne Manning got up to read some of her fiction: it was lean without being minimal and poignant without being sentimental. Best of all, it expertly captured a part of the country my husband and I greatly missed, the Pacific Northwest.
After reading the broadsides she had on display, I introduced myself to Corinne and we talked about her work, the AiR program, and interests we shared. Immediately I thought of the gender studies class I had begun teaching at Clemson, and suggested she come visit as a guest speaker.
Corinne was a hit with the class. The topics and themes of her novel were well aligned with the material we were studying, but also a welcome change from academic readings and my lectures. She was direct and comfortable with the students, and they engaged in a good discussion with her. She brought in charts and notes to illustrate her writing process, which many students were curious about.
It was the sort of connection I like best in my classrooms: not merely connecting students to the ideas on the syllabus, but showing them how those ideas connect to things beyond the classroom: art, culture, community, real people, and real lives. It gave me an opportunity to talk to students about HUB-BUB and AiR as well, exposing them to those available resources. In fact, I had assigned two short chapters from Out Loud to the class, and, earlier in the semester, shown them a documentary on a transgendered man in nearby Georgia, Southern Comfort, which Corinne had recommended to me. The movie had not only enlivened the concepts we were studying in class but, more importantly, had helped the students see that those concepts and issues were not theoretical abstractions or urban curiosities, but their neighbors.
When I brought another author to Clemson, Jennifer Natalya Fink, Corrine helped set up a reading for her and me at Hub City Press, which went very well.
In all these experiences, and socializing with Corinne at other HUB-BUB events and our housewarming party in Greenville, I was excited to be learning about and participating in the networks of community here in the Upstate. It was a great welcoming experience. I tried to return the favor by suggesting contacts and resources for her in Portland, where she was considering relocating.
Ultimately, I guess what all this demonstrates is the waves that ripple out from a program like AiR: There’s the immediate artists, artwork, and events, but from those networks much more radiates and continues to grow.
–D. Travers Scott