UMass Boston Alumni Reading Festival

Amy Julian

When UMass Boston faculty member and immensely talented writer Askold Melnyczuk kicked off the English department’s Global Voices Reading Series in September, students were treated to the first of at least six creative writing events being held on campus this semester. The department brought it even closer to home this past week featuring two UMB alumni who showcased their work and discussed their experiences in writing.

On Wednesday, October 15 and Thursday October 16, the UMB bookstore hosted Glenn Sheldon and Edie Aronowitz Mueller and Steven Wingate, respectively. Both events were free to students and featured the talented writers who have made their mark on the literary world, all while hailing from the strong English program that the University of Massachusetts offers. The readings gave students a first-hand account of the road from UMB to publication and interested students were able to ask questions of the alumni at the events.

Wednesday’s event featured two authors and alumni, Glenn Sheldon and Edie Aronowitz Mueller. Sheldon, who is now a professor of creative writing at the University of Toledo (Ohio), recently published his first book of poetry. Bird Scarer includes several of Sheldon’s works and offers a wide array of themes and approaches to poetry, while remaining consistent with Sheldon’s voice. Readers and attendees of the event were able to experience readings from Sheldon’s work and perhaps gain a new perspective on the poetry. Also lending her voice to the event on October 15 was Edie Aronowitz Mueller, who also published her own book of poetry entitled The Fat Girl and Other Poems. Through her witty voice and her knack for the English language, Mueller showed that she is a diverse and lively poet with much to offer the genre.

The second day of the Alumni Reading Festival shifted from poetry to fiction, featuring writer Steven Wingate. In his first collection of short stories, Wifeshopping, Wingate opens the door for discussion of humanistic goals and ideals without sounding prophetic or preachy. His honest accounts of men’s quests for love and life partners, and the importance of this love and passion for another human allows his reader, regardless of sex, orientation, or ethnicity, to relate to the human quest of giving and receiving love. Wingate was on hand to read excerpts from his book as well as answer questions from students.

Both days of the event were a testament to the talent that UMB breeds and the strength of the creative writing programs the school offers. Students were able to learn more about the alumni who perhaps sat in the same seats they sit in today. It’s always a welcome treat to be able to hear the authors read their poems and stories in their own voice, and it’s amazing how hearing the writing from the author’s own perspective allows the listener to gain a new understanding and appreciation for the work: It may in fact be quite different from how one may originally perceive it. The English department will be holding other events throughout the semester as part of their Global Voices Reading series. For more information and for the schedule of upcoming events, be sure to visit the department website ( All events are free to students. If you were unable to catch the Alumni Reading festival, be sure to drop in to one of the future events and allow yourself to relax and enjoy the readings of brilliant and imaginative UMass Boston faculty, students, and special guests.