Rob Winger, Trent professor and author, read poems from his book Old Hat in the Junior Common Room at Traill College on Thursday October 1st. This event was Trent’s second Writers Reading of this year’s series. The event was not hosted by the usual host Lewis Macleod, but by Professor Stephen Brown. Professor Brown read from a script provided by the original host and then announced he had stolen whisky from Lewis Macleod.
Before introducing the author, Stephen Brown introduced Rob Winger and stated that, “Rob not only writes poetry, but he sings it like no one else.” To further describe his writing, Professor Brown stated that “Rob Winger’s poetry is like meeting a stranger at a bus station, and when you go your separate ways, you realize you knew him better than your own family”.
He read a series of his own poems from his most recently published book, Old Hat.
Some of the poems he read were “Re/Covering from Champlain Trails”, “Another Birch Across” and “What We Thought”. While reading from his poems there was plenty of supportive laughter and smiles throughout the audience. This line in particular enticed a lot of laughter, “Inform your pregnancy if you suspect you are a doctor”. One of the audience members mentioned that having the author read from his book really shows the original intent of tone and pace.
In this case, Rob Winger read his poems with a fast pace and humorous tone. The event ended with another small speech by Stephen Brown. During the closing speech Professor Brown made sure to say: “I haven’t been to one of these things in twenty five years”. The audience then members asked a series of questions.
One question asked by a Trent student was: “You talk a little about working class English and academia English, do you think that working class English is compatible with intellectual language and is academic language compatible with casual conversation?”
Professor Winger responded with: “Good Question! My target was not academic language. My target was language used as a way to exclude. Which could also be used in jargon for sports. Not trying to make academia look evil or anything.” He further expressed that language use in poems “is a funny line, dumbing it down can be an insult”.
Another inquiry from an audience member was “Do you hear your voice when you are writing?” His first response was “Like, am I insane?” However, after lots more laughter, he stated a serious answer to the question,
“I always read my drafts aloud. Poetry with these connections to song and prayer, the sound is important.” Professor Winger also stated that when he read his work out loud: “Sometimes I am embarrassed by the poem, and then I change it.” The last question asked was: “How do you make your written word come across with tone?” To the audience’s surprise, he answered “I don’t do that, people will read it at a difference pace.”
He then continued his answer with, “sometimes you can control [the] reader’s pace with spaces and punctuation.” During the interview Winger spoke very strongly about the history behind his poems showing proof of heavy research and deeper meanings to his poems. Professor Winger also had great things to say about Trent University and Trent’s Writer’s Reading.
“The writer’s reading is an extension [to Trent’s atmosphere] in so many ways. I think it’s a really awesome thing.” Rob Winger stated that one of favourite things about Trent is that “the professors are really collegial, it is okay to disagree at Trent”.
There was even great advice given to Trent students to help improve their writing: “In my experience, reading is the best way to learn how to write.”