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The Power of Words: A reflection on Kirby Farrell’s talk

Jenna Stover
Student Writer

On Thursday afternoon, October 29th, the School of Humanities and the Department of English held a guest speaker event in Boyer.

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Kirby Farrell, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Messiah College hosted Kirby Farrell, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Farrell is considered accomplished as a novelist, jazz pianist and composer, Shakespeare scholar, and culture critic.

Blogging avidly on his “At Swim in Denial” page, Farrell’s talk focused on the ideology behind creative writing in both fiction and non-fiction worlds with a specific focus on writing for television, film, and other medias.

After a detailed introduction of his accomplishments from Professor Sam Smith, the Coordinator of Cultural Studios Dialogues and English teacher, Kirby Farrell’s talk titled “Living With Monsters” was invigorating and entertaining. Farrell states, “We usually suppress and distance ourselves from this notion. It’s taboo, and that’s what I mean when I say writers are living with monsters.”

Discussing the peculiar relationship humans have with chickens, Farrell used the relationship between the necessity of chickens as a food source and the unique value they have in culture for their looks to show the problematic nature of humanity. Relating the writing process to the film The Natural History of Chickens, Dalton J. Leonard, a sophomore Communications major, says, “I never thought chickens could teach me so much about creative writing.”

Farrell’s talk revolved around the idea that the writing process is about the balance between the ambivalence that we find ourselves facing every day and the security within that ambivalence. “You’re living with the ambivalence of being human. The good side we think of is heroism. We think of it as seeing the values of our culture,” said Farrell. “The difficult side that we have a hard time explaining to ourselves revolves around destruction of life that we can’t do without. It’s that if you don’t do it, you’ll die. ”

Overall, the talk gave all individuals a new perspective on the writing process, while offering some clarity about the true essence and reasoning for writing.

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