Comparative Literature

Hala Alyan: A Discussion

On Wednesday, October 17, 2018, Award Winning Palestinian American poet and clinical psychologist Hala Alyan came to AUP to give words of wisdom and advice to Professor Dennis’ Intro To Creative Writing classroom. The Dayton Literary Peace Prize Winner read some of her poetry and a chapter from her book “Salt Houses”, then allowed students to ask her questions in relation to her experience in the field of writing, her work and how she was able to craft narratives in within it, and her own process as to learn to improve their own.

You have to love the process for this to be worth it

Hala Alyan Writer

Alyan stated that she’d written her entire life, starting from when she came to the United States as a child and learned English as. That her study of psychology helped her get a better grasp of her characters, that her story “Salt Houses” was changed as she fell more in love with the female characters in the original protagonist’s story, causing her to change the narrative to better fit the characters. She immersed herself in the story through research and talking to her father who lived during one of the story’s time periods. She even went as far to as burn an orange in her bathtub to get a feel for the situation she was describing. The conversation ended with her telling the students that the best advice she could give is to go where the story needs to go, to not be afraid to scrap, change, or adjust an idea in the process. That storytelling and writing is done for the love of it, that it can be maddening at times but that when it is enjoyed, that anything else that comes after it in just icing on the cake.