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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Atwood at Bryan Series: Literary giant leaves audience laughing, wondering and praising

“Margaret and I are happy to welcome you to the world of rejection, poverty and humiliation,” said essayist and novelist Roger Rosenblatt during an on-campus Q&A session Tuesday afternoon in the Community Center at Guilford.

Award-winning author Margaret Atwood spoke later at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 24 for this year’s third Bryan Series event. Atwood was joined by friend and colleague Rosenblatt, who led Atwood in a conversation about the writing process, environmentalism and how to get away with murder on a boat in the Arctic.

Although Bryan Series events have utilized many formats in the past, the conversation style is somewhat rare.

“The reason we decided to go with that format is because there is so much about Margaret and her career that we wanted to be able to get a sampling of,” said Ty Buckner, associate vice president of communications and marketing. “We thought that her talking with someone, rather than just giving a lecture that might be focused on one of her books, would be a little bit of a lot of things.”

Atwood and Rosenblatt’s talk was many things, but above all it was comedic. The pair worked well with each other, bantering back and forth playfully.

“Luckily on this boat there were five people named Bob,” said Atwood, explaining how to get away with murder in the Arctic. “It’s very handy to have five Bobs because you can take out one of the Bobs, shuffle them around and nobody will know.”

“Have you ever talked to a mad person before?” Rosenblatt joked in response.

The pair touched on more serious issues as well, such as the role of evil in the world and Atwood’s connection to nature as an author and environmentalist.

“Do I think that we will be able to kill everything on the planet?” said Atwood. “I don’t think so. The question is, will we change nature so much that (humans) can’t live in it anymore.”

Atwood also spoke about her writing process.

“Pencil-sharpening followed by procrastination and panic,” Atwood said of her process during the afternoon  Q&A session. “Followed by watching TV. I seem to have to work myself up to that moment of ‘I’ve got just the right amount of time to do this’. Delay more, and then you really have to do it.”

Buckner, who is in charge of organizing and overseeing Bryan Series events, said that Atwood was a great addition to the Bryan Series lineup.

“She’s known around the world,” said Bucker. “She’s written these incredible books. The interesting thing about Margaret’s work is that people keep coming back to it. It seems like even if the book is 20-30 years old it is still timely to today.”

“I wanted to attend because we’d just read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ for class, and I was interested in hearing more about the rest of Margaret’s writings and in hearing her speak,” said junior Sophia Silverstein-Rivera.“I thought it was interesting to hear her and the other author talk to each other. She was so funny.”

“Margaret Atwood is a hero of mine,” said Emma Hadley, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, in an interview after the event. “It was a nice experience to actually see her in the flesh. I think (the talk) was brilliant. She’s a lovely, smart woman who is sharp as a tack still.”

There was a book-signing following the event, as well as a special surprise — the lineup of next year’s Bryan Series was announced. The new lineup is usually presented at the end of the final event of the year, but this year event organizers decided to try something different.

“It gives us a little more time to promote sales while people are still attending events,” said Buckner of the decision to release the lineup early. “It will give (season ticket holders) a chance to learn more about the speakers before they make their decision.

Next year’s Bryan Series lineup includes journalist and foreign affairs analyst Robin Wright, surgeon and author Atul Gawande, historic nonfiction author Jon Meacham, actor George Takei and author Malcolm Gladwell.

New subscriptions to the Bryan Series will be available starting May 18.

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