MSUM welcomes Ladan Osman as start to McGrath Visiting Writers Series

by Tyler Jensen

jensenty@mnstate.edu

The 29th year of the McGrath Visiting Writer’s Series began with song and poetry last week, and the event director said there’s much more to come.

Poet Ladan Osman delivered several readings from her book “The Kitchen Dweller’s Testimony.” The reading in the Livingston Lord Library Patio began with her singing a piece by a Nigerian-British rapper. Osman said she does music at her readings for two reasons. The first is that she wants to include something to make the audience’s time at the readings worthwhile. The second, she said, is to confront her own fear of singing in public, which she describes as a “silly fear to have.”

Osman said she does not usually pay much attention to a specific form of poetry like prose or sonnets, nor does she focus on meter, describing it as “difficult to do when English isn’t your first language.” Osman originally spoke Somali and Arabic before learning English.

“It felt weird just looking at a page and knowing this isn’t in your native language,” she said in the Q&A session after her readings.

Osman came to speak at MSUM after connecting with the director of the series, Dr. Yahya Frederickson, on Facebook. She said she also wanted to come here because she had never been to the Fargo area before.

Frederickson, an English professor, has been in charge of the program for two years. He believes the program is important to the school.

“It introduces students and makes them understand viewpoints that are different from what they get in their classrooms,” he said.

He added that he and his friends, as MSUM students in the mid-80s, would watch the vising writers. He remembers some speakers had ideas that were “like lightning rods,” meaning they struck and remained with him through the years.

“I hope that our writing series brings those kinds of voices,” he said.

Senior Louis Zurn, who attended the reading for his creative writing class, feels the series is important because sometimes living on campus can make students feel closed off from different experiences.

The experience is also beneficial for other community members.

“Some students are born here in Moorhead, they go to school in Moorhead and they will spend the rest of their lives here in Moorhead, so it’s important to bring in experiences from different places,” Zurn said.

He was glad to attend the reading because he feels that it’s better to get the author’s take on how the poetry should flow, and that is something the reader doesn’t get by just reading a book. Zurn is looking forward to seeing the next author in the series.

The next event features Mark Vinz, a retired professor from MSUM, who will be reading from his book of poetry on Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Weld Auditorium. 

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