Writers Can Read Night features Marshall professors, son


Clara Maynard

Joel Peckham reads a piece from his forthcoming book, Body Memories, during Writers Can Read Night at Empire Books and News.

February’s edition of Writers Can Read Night at Empire Books and News featured husband-wife duo and Marshall University professors Joel and Rachael Peckham.

Joel Peckham is an assistant professor of regional literature and creative writing at Marshall.  Rachael Peckham is the author of “Muck Fire” and is an assistant professor of English.

Joel read a piece discussing masculinity from his forthcoming book, “Body Memories.” Rachel read what she called a “hybrid, segmented” piece about her husband’s first wife and oldest child who died in a car accident.

Their son Darius Peckham, 13, also read his first published work, a non-fiction piece about getting to know his late mother through his grandparents, which will be published in “Brevity.”

Rachael Peckham said she believes it is important for authors to share their works with others.

“I think every writer wants to connect to another human being, otherwise, it’s just for you,” Rachael Peckham said. “I would argue that no writing is completely for the self. Even journals and diaries suggest to me that there’s kind of an implicit listener.”

Rachael Peckham said sharing art can be comforting to the author and audience.

“This is not profound to say and people have said it better than I have, but I do think the aim of art is to help us to feel less alone,” Rachael Peckham said.

Rachael Peckham said she encourages students to celebrate art and reach out to other groups such as Et Cetera, Marshall’s literary magazine.

Elliot Parker, assistant professor of English at Mountwest Community and Technical College, said this was the largest crowd he has seen in the four months since the program’s inception.

“We wanted to start an event that celebrated writing and reading in our community,” Parker said. “And we wanted for the community to see that it’s not just writers, per se, and it’s not just teachers; it’s not just professors—those kinds of folks, but there’s a broad range of folks in our community who are writing and reading.”

Parker said members of the community are welcome to sign up for the open mic portion of every Writers Can Read Night. 

“Anyone is welcome to come,” Parker said. “Anyone is welcome to read something they’ve worked on. We have some people who like to read not things they are working on but things that have inspired them or influenced them as readers.”

Writers Can Read Night is held the third Wednesday every month at Empire Books and News. The next installment will be 7 p.m. March 21 and will feature Rajia Hassib and Jonathan Joy.

Clara Maynard can be contacted at [email protected].