Empathy and humor dominated Roxane Gay’s recent reading and Q & A at Butler University. Before her public reading, Gay met with Butler students around the fire at the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing. The unfiltered conversation covered everything from Barbie to gun violence, Donald Trump to Doc McStuffins.
The award-winning, multi-genre author encouraged Butler students to be good writers, bad feminists, and empathetic always. She discussed the importance of writing entertaining stories while being aware. Gay writes for popular fashion magazines as often as for literary magazines. She publishes memoirs, novels, and twitter posts. “If you want to make a change, if you want to be heard, you have to take a multi-pronged approach. Not everyone is on twitter,” she said, then admitted, “But a lot of interesting conversations happen around hashtags.”
Her brand of “bad feminism” is allowing women to “care about beauty products and the world at the same time.” It is about having empathy for each other. “Life is hard for everyone, even Oprah. Look, she’s richer than black coffee, but her struggle is real. Not as real as mine, but you do have to have empathy to recognize life is hard. How do we make life less hard for more people?” she said.
The perfect start to the Spring 2016 Vivian S. Delbrook reading series, Gay is a classic example of a writer who makes literary events fun and entertaining. She laughed, challenged students, joked, got real, and always engaged her audiences.