By: Sarah Williams, Staff Writer
On a recent Thursday evening at the Landing, Author Benjamin Nugent charmed UMF students with his poetic stories and vivid imagery, as the first speaker in the Visiting Writer Series of the fall semester.
Nugent, who received his Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, began with his spellbinding tale entitled God. The room was hush with anxious students and the smell of rich coffee as Nugent began to speak from the frat boy narrator’s point of view.
The story included two protagonists: Nutella, a frat boy hiding his secret premature ejaculation, and God, a girl who writes a poem about him and speaks his truth.
As he wove his tale around the room, he spoke with a warm, round voice as though he could have been the college student himself. “The kitchen smelled like garbage, chocolate, sweat, and spring, “ said Nugent. His writing was music and poetry as the story continued with the narrator saying, “He had the plaintive eyes and button nose of a child in a life-insurance commercial, the carriage of an armored soldier.” The room was hush as Nugent spread the words of Nutella’s across the silence, sweet and unapologetically.
Though he has written several other stories including, Good Kids and American Nerd:The Story of My People, Nugent’s fictitious work, God, was the main focus of the evening.
“One of my creative writing students had written about her own experience with a premature ejaculator, and though I never read it, her story inspired me,” said Nugent.
A writer of both fiction and nonfiction, Nugent’s musical background brings poetry into his writings. “In my twenties, I struggled between music and writing. That is probably why I write like a songwriter,” he said.
As young as 16 or 17, Nugent started his writing career with creating little stories. Today, he writes at least four days a week and all day long to keep his momentum going. For Nugent, writing and rewriting is a long and difficult process. “Ninety five percent of it never sees the light of day, and gets thrown away.” he said, and then clarified not literally thrown away, just tossed aside. When he finds himself close to finishing a book, it’s very hard to stop editing and leave it alone. “Then you reach a point, and you know,” said Nugent.
When he isn’t writing, he teaches fiction and nonfiction courses at the University at Southern New Hampshire. Mentors and inspiration for Nugent include, David Foster Wallace, Otessa Moshfegh, Joshua Cohen, and Amie Barrodale. He advises students who are aspiring to be writers, “I recommend not getting yourself out there too quickly. The biggest mistake is to put stuff out there immediately.”
The Visiting Writer’s series will continue on November 12th with nonfiction writer, David Gessner. December 10th, Cole Swenson will end the 2015 series with his poetry reading. All events are held at the Landing at UMF and begin at 7:30 p.m.