An Evening with Sam Pickering
English department faculty members and university students gathered at the Storrs Center Co-op for "An Afternoon with Sam Pickering" yesterday. Pickering, a UConn professor emeritus, read and recounted moments from many of the essays he has compiled for his most recent collections, both "The Splendour Falls" and upcoming "All My Days Are Saturdays -" a title admittedly changed by its publisher.
An alluring comfort is imposed upon those taking time to either read or hear the words Pickering has to offer. Preceding his time at the podium, friends and colleagues alike attested to this with gentle and heartfelt words. Each described the ease with which Pickering has brought a resolute sense of both laughter and literary commitment into their lives, if even only with mere presence. He simply looked on with a humbled and true modesty.
Pickering then took the podium, an object seeming rather arbitrary at this point. The man speaks with a disposition that levels the playing field. There was no distinctive tone nor pompous diction or embellished undertakings, but only a man wishing to pass on the "muse" he had once thought dead: befittingly, this muse was introduced as his career as a writer. This was a confession he had made several books, let alone publications ago. He labelled himself as a "literary inebriate."
The writer shared some of his favorite selections from essays included in the books previously mentioned, each relaying a rather humorous and often facetious tone, one to be expected by those familiar with his work, but each displaying a deep-seated love for the rich perspective brought about by his life as a literary scholar. Despite their anecdotal nature, it was easily discerned that this man had seriously affected the lives of all he entered.
It is not a far fetch to learn Pickering provided inspiration for the "Mr. Keating" character in 1989's "Dead Poets Society," but this should not be his calling card. Go out and read one of his books. You will not regret it. To be frank, it was and always will be nearly impossible to keep up with Pickering. His mind seems to contain and furthermore entertain a constant, streamlined evolution of true and ungovernable literature. Whether realized and written or imaginary and stowed away, or perhaps saved to share with a lucky group of university scholars, each variety offers a completely unique approach, and each with limitless value.
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