Binghamton’s Artisan Gallery was filled to the brim on a rainy Thursday night as authors T Kira Madden and Mark Fabiano drew a packed house for their performances in the Literati Reading Series.
Fabiano is a second-year Ph.D. student studying English at Binghamton University and an acclaimed fiction writer. He served in the Peace Corps for 11 years in Sri Lanka, and read a chapter titled “Homecoming” from his novel, “Garden of the Full Moon.” It tells the story of a young Sri Lankan girl who copes with her father’s impending death from cancer.
“In this story, I was showing someone from sort of the elite strata of Sri Lankan society coming back to the country and trying to find herself,” Fabiano said. “The idea was that it was going to lead to her own self-discovery, to question her past. I was trying to show this well-off person that has very little connection to the land she’s from.”
Following Fabiano’s reading, Madden was invited to the podium to read from her 2019 memoir, “Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls.” A Boca Raton native, Madden teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and serves as the founding editor-in-chief of No Tokens, a literature and art journal.
Madden recited from a section titled “collected dates with my father,” which consisted of extremely descriptive and vivid stories of her dad. As the daughter of a father who struggled with alcoholism, Madden said her writing is emotionally charged in a way that she hopes resonates with others.
“I’m trying to find familiarity in emotional spaces, emotional truth, and I think at our best as writers, with specificity comes universality,” Madden said. “If you’re specific enough in your own world and truthful enough about it, other people can identify basic parts of the human condition of like, I too think about identity and struggle with that, or I too struggle with grief.”
Following Madden’s reading, the event moved into a brief question and answer session where audience members could ask the two readers about their writing processes. For Madden, staying in touch with her work is essential in maintaining a connection to her writing.
“I try to make a rule to touch my writing every day,” Madden said. “By touching it, I mean maybe it’s just rearranging a sentence and editing that sentence once. It’s become a real spiritual practice with me just to be in touch with words.”
Attendees were also given time to mingle, speak with the authors or purchase a signed copy of Madden’s novel. Jamey McDermott, an organizer of the event and a third-year graduate student studying English, emphasized the unifying effect that events like these have on the city.
“I think that a big part of the point of Literati is to help integrate the community of the University with the community in Binghamton,” McDermott said. “I’m part of that academic, literary community, but I think it’s important to emphasize that you don’t have to be part of academia to be a writer or to enjoy writing.”
Binghamton resident and BU alumnus Jim Mack, ‘09, said that events like this have the potential to unite community members and students with art.
“I think there does need to be a coming together here and part of how that can happen could be encouraging both townies to come to events on campus and encouraging students with the proper transportation to be at events like this,” he said. “There’s a great amount of artistic enrichment that could take place if there were to be a better integration.”