"Listening to the story served as my respite for the evening."

On the evening of January 31st, 2019, writers Erin Dorney and Tyler Barton returned home to Lancaster, PA to read pieces from their recently published respective works: I Am Not Famous Anymore: Poems After Shia Labeouf and The Quiet Part Loud. With many friends in the audience, the married couple discussed writing, recited poems and stories, and engaged in a fruitful Q&A.

Erin Dorney’s collection of erasure poems are clever in their content and creation. Utilizing Shia LaBeouf interviews, Erin spawned a spinoff of blackout poetry and extracted words from this former actor’s interviews to tell her stories. I particularly enjoyed hearing the poem “Tent-Pole Moments,” and wholeheartedly recommend it to fellow readers.

Tyler Barton’s chapbook consists of flash fiction stories. With a 1,000-word cap, each word becomes precious and integral. I closed my eyes when Tyler spoke and tried to envision the meaning and purpose of every word and sentence. My favorite work was “Late Teens on Trash Night” because of the embedded humor and personal parallels. “Trash night meant ten discarded traffic cones we’d arranged to snake down Old Well Hill, and trash night was trying to mow them all over in a single pass, and trash night was the elusive nature of success. One would always jam up in the wheel well and veer us. We wanted to hit all the things you couldn’t, on normal nights, even touch.” Listening to the story served as my respite for the evening.

In the final moments of the reading, Erin and Tyler stated their fondness of rules. Within creative writing, I am a devout believer in a lack of regulation. Writing serves as a means of boundless, lawless adventure for me; therefore, I found their inclinations to rules interesting. If you cannot explore unhindered in writing, where can you?

Allison Klei '21 is a Writers House student staff member.