Margaret Atwood visits the English Department - 5. 6. 14

On Friday morning, English concentrators, teaching fellows, first-years, and creative writing workshop students packed the Thompson Parlor for a very special engagement. As part of the Undergraduate Program’s “Writers in the Parlor” series, acclaimed novelist and poet Margaret Atwood joined Buttenwieser Director of Creative Writing Bret Johnston for a conversation on the writing life. The previous afternoon, Ms. Atwood was honored with the distinguished Harvard Arts Medal.

In a discussion that started with Atwood turning the tables on Johnston and interviewing him for a change, Atwood shared her experiences, often evoking such laughter the audience felt as though they were at a comedy show. She shared her opinion on the physical spaces she finds most conducive to writing: planes, trains, and cafés (but only if you don’t know anyone in the city where the café is). Johnston closed the discussion by asking Atwood’s advice to those aspiring to become the next Margaret Atwood. She gave the most practical advice possible: “Do the back exercises early…pay attention to your posture…and take up Pilates.”

After the talk, excited students asked Ms. Atwood to autograph their notebooks, journals, and a lucky staff member got a signature on her arm! For a full account of the event, please see the article in the forthcoming edition of “The Word,” our undergraduate newsletter.