Written by Charissa Roberson
Dr. Teresa Milbrodt, professor of Creative Writing at Roanoke College, gave a reading on Sept. 29 to celebrate the release of her latest short story collection, “Instances of Head-Switching.”
The event was held at 7 p.m. in Wortmann Ballroom, with chairs arranged to accommodate social distancing. Professor Mary Hill gave a short speech to open the evening, thanking all those who had helped organize the event and introducing Milbrodt and her writing. Afterwards, Milbrodt took the stage.
Milbrodt read one short story, entitled “The Hostage,” from her new book. She then shared two flash fiction pieces from another of her collections, “Larissa Takes Flight.” Milbrodt’s poise and powerful diction added a new dimension to her already vibrant prose. Her flash fiction pieces in particular were written to be performed; this fact became wonderfully apparent as Milbrodt delivered the fast-paced lines with impeccable rhythm and alacrity.
“I think she’s an amazing oral speaker,” said Chamberlain Zulauf, a senior creative writing major who attended the reading. “Her stories are built to be read out loud, and it really shows.”
After the reading, Milbrodt took questions from the audience. One topic she discussed was how the lens through which she views her stories has shifted over the years, in response to changes in the world around her. For example, the story Milbrodt shared at the reading, “The Hostage,” concerns a viral disease. It was written years before the pandemic first reared its head, but now the story has taken on a new aspect.
The evening was designed as a celebration, to recognize Milbrodt’s achievement and to bring RC’s writing community together. In that spirit, a light reception followed the reading, provided by department chair Dr. Wendy Larson-Harris. During that time, Milbrodt signed and sold copies of her books.
“[H]er book came out during the pandemic, and so we had not been able to celebrate the book publication,” said Dr. Melanie Almeder, who organized the reading. “She also joined our faculty during the pandemic, and so this seemed like a good opportunity to get our community together, get to know her more, and her work more.”
For some creative writing students, this is the first semester that they have been able to meet Milbrodt, due to her recent arrival at the college and last year’s online learning.
“Dr. Milbrodt is phenomenal,” said senior creative writing major Jasey Roberts. “I think she is a really, really, really gifted voice, and I’m so happy to be introduced to her this semester. Yeah, I had loads of fun here – hopefully I’ll get to snack.”