An Enthralling Evening with
Joseph O’Connor

By Dave Feldman (Harman Student)

Joseph O'ConnorHundreds gathered in the Newman Conference center at Baruch College to welcome author Joseph O'Connor and to hear selected readings on Thursday, October 20. O'Connor was the 23rd author to come to campus as a Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence. The Program selects one author every semester to inspire talented students about the art and craft of creative writing.

"It's really exciting to see such an extraordinary turnout," said Roslyn Bernstein, professor of journalism and director of the program. Indeed, there were not enough seats to accommodate all of the students, faculty members and friends in the audience that included three generations of the O'Connor family: the author's father, Sean, 70, the author, and his son, James, nine.

Harman Writer-in-Residence Director Roslyn Bernstein
Harman Writer-in-Residence Director Roslyn Bernstein

Shortly before reading his work, O’Connor was greeted by the college provost, Jim McCarthy, and by Professor Mary McGlynn of the English department, who both commented on O'Connor’s wide range of literary mediums, including creative non-fiction writing, fiction, screenplay, a radio column and poetry. "He is a great example of what a writing life can be: talented and prolific," said McGlynn.

O’Connor took the stage and joked about the alcohol-free bar, and then read several pieces of his work, including a review of punk singer Patti Smith and extracts from two of his novels, Redemption Falls and Star of the Sea, the latter of which was an international bestseller and winner of several European book awards. He also shared his works-in-progress from his newest novel, Ghost Light, and from Reading Tennyson with Sean, a memoir about his father.

All of O'Connor’s readings were met with gracious applause, but O'Connor's biggest response came from the reading of a poem he wrote on a rainy Friday at Baruch titled "Vertical Campus." The poem had a humorous voice that could only be his own, but also extended a vision about the great unity of New York City, a message Walt Whitman might have particularly enjoyed. The poem was strung together in a rapid-fire rhyme scheme and rhythm that reflected the intensity and speed of the city itself. The final reading of the night was met with a standing ovation from many members of the audience.

More about the Harman Writers-in-Residence program.

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