By Katherine Moore, Contributor Originally published in Issue 5, Volume 32 of The University Register on Friday, November 8, 2019

Best selling author, essayist, and contributing New York Times columnist Roxane Gay visited the University of Minnesota Morris on November 1 for a book signing and a moterated discussion with students and community members. People traveled to UMM from the Twin Cities to attend the event.

Over the course of the discussion, Gay and the three panel members, students Sara Carman and Sierra Paske, and proffessor Jessica Larson, covered a wide variety of topics. They talked about everything from the value of humanities classes to feminism to Mark Zuckerbergs’ haircut (“It’s called a wig. Try one,” Gay remarked).

During the event, Gay talked about trauma and the process of writing about it. In her writings she reveals a lot of very personal information, but she says it is all deliberate. She has boundaries about what she writes, particularly when it concerns her family and loved ones.

“My work isn’t raw,” Gay said. “I have a PhD. It is a series of rhetorical choices that I made to make you feel that way.”

Gay received her PhD in rhetoric and technical communication in 2010, but has been passionate about writing from a young age. When she was four years old she would draw villages on napkins and write stories about the people who lived in them. She started her career by writing essays for literary magazines, but now has written opinion and advice columns, short stories, a Marvel comic book, and a novel. She continues to branch out with her work.

For students Gay left some advice: “Find the balance of taking care of yourself, contributing to society, and ending bigotry.”

Image on top courtesy of UMM Flickr