Presented by Professor Joanna Ruocco, author and poet Abbey Mei Otis, another poet presented by the Dillon Johnston Writers Reading Series, offered a unique look into the world of emerging contemporary poetry on Nov. 21. Otis, who last year published her first collection of short stories “Alien Virus Love Disaster,” is quickly becoming a writer of great regard and offered students a chance to listen to her prose, both in formal and informal settings throughout the day.
Initially quite reserved when speaking into the microphone, Otis began to feel her stride as her words took shape off the page. Quoting an excerpt from a currently unfinished chapter of an upcoming novel, Otis began to loosen up. With each new accent and voice, she would gesture with her hands, sneering as if her characters would and almost channeling the various emotions of her main character, all the while hinting at something sinister and odd in the background.
When questioned about her interactions with publishing companies, as she had just published her first collection, Otis became very candid. As she explained, the monotony of waiting agents and companies to get back to her was the most time-consuming part. She even stated that the publishing of her book “felt like ages, but it (her book) just came out a year ago!”
She joked about her writing process, teasing herself in her recollection that her slow, indulgent writing style hasn’t changed since graduate school at the University of Texas. Even the portion she read for the audience, a selection from her upcoming new novel, had taken its time to come to fruition, as she explained.
Otis, being a young and emerging poet, offered a refreshing look into the oftentimes illustrious profession of a poet or author. She lamented about finding agents and being turned down by publishing companies, but she reminded us of the underlying levity of it all, that anyone can become an author of respect if they simply kept at it, much as she has done.