Friday, September 2, 2011

Listenin' to Larry

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Gatlin. I grew up listening to the Gatlin Brothers, and when I found out Mr. Gatlin  was coming to our campus to conduct a creative writing workshop, I knew I had to go. Not only is Mr. Gatlin a hugely talented performer, but he is also funny, well-read, smart, and just plain down to earth.

Me n' Larry
Several of my students attended the workshop (yes, I bribed them to go; but on the way out, two of them said those who didn't take me up on my offer truly missed out on a good time) and left with huge smiles. One had the opportunity to read her poem aloud for Mr. Gatlin to listen to and respond, and he gave her praise and encouragement after she finished. When Mr. Gatlin told the group how important it is for a writer to read, read, and read some more, my students looked at me and grinned, as I have been saying the same thing since the semester began.

After the workshop, Mr. Gatlin spent about 45 minutes in the Cafe, singing, joking, telling stories, and answering questions from the crowd. He was scheduled to entertain for a half hour, but he insisted on continuing when the president of the college made the move to end the fun. His not being in a hurry to wrap things up was very refreshing.

Though I'm not a country music fan these days, I had to laugh when I was able to sing along with each of the songs Mr. Gatlin sang. Made my students laugh, too. I can't sing along with Lady Gaga, but I definitely can with Larry Gatlin.

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