University professor shares work as newfound novelist

Madison Weaver, Contributing Writer

“What is betrayal? What is allegiance? Sometimes in order to have allegiance to yourself you are forced into situations where you have to betray other people. I was just fascinated by those difficult questions,” Professor of English Paula Closson Buck said.

Closson Buck asks these questions in her novel, “Summer on the Cold War Planet.” Already a published author with two books of poetry from Louisiana State University (LSU) Press, short stories in national literary magazines, and time spent in Cyprus as a Fulbright Scholar, Closson Buck has a new title to add to her résumé: novelist.

The accomplishment was celebrated at Bucknell Hall on Oct. 27 with a fiction reading and book signing.

“I honestly can’t decide what I like best about the novel,” Associate Professor of English Robert Rosenberg said in his introduction to Closson Buck’s reading. “Until its last moments, the novel surprises us again and again.”

Rosenberg’s comments are reminiscent of how Closson Buck, known for her poetry, came to publish a full-length novel.

“At the time, I didn’t write fiction. I tried writing poems about my experiences, I tried writing essays and nothing was working … I just had to get this narrative voice out, and of course, that was just the beginning,” Closson Buck said.

Inspiration for the novel came from the “experiences I had in Berlin in 1988, the year before the wall came down,” Closson Buck said. “I knew almost instantly and ridiculously that I was writing a novel.”

Over the next 20 years, the novel took form: “I was so obsessed and so determined … It becomes so many different books as you become a different person,” Closson Buck said.

Bucknell Hall was filled with students, faculty, and community members who were impressed with Closson Buck’s evolution.

“It shows Paula off for the multitalented literary artist she is, not only the poet we’ve long admired, but now the builder of worlds and explorer of lives,” Rosenberg said. “We couldn’t be prouder to call her our own, and to celebrate this, the publication of her first novel.”

Pulling from both travel and historical fiction, “Summer on the Cold War Planetis intriguing to critical and recreational readers alike.

“You can come in with a certain world view and look at the exact same space and history either taints it or makes a beautiful aesthetic,” Professor of English Elena Machado said.

“This was a really unique opportunity to hear a professor talk about work that they had written and to know that I will have the chance to interact with published authors,” Sasha Carpenter ’19 said.

Similar events will be hosted by the Stadler Center for Poetry throughout the coming year.

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