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Emily Capettini ’09 returns to Lit Fest as speaker

When Emily Capettini ’09 was asked to come back to campus to give a reading from her award-winning novella, and talk about her writing life after college, there was little doubt what she would do.

“It was an easy choice to say yes,” she admits. Now a college professor, writer, and editor, Capettini traveled to Lake Forest in March to participate in the 2017 Lake Forest Literary Festival. “I saw an opportunity to give back to a community that was supportive of me as I was first starting on the path to being a writer and one that continued to be supportive after graduation. I remember how talking to visiting writers shifted my perspective of what a writer should be to what a writer can be.”

Visiting campus was “like returning to a familiar place, but someone had rearranged the furniture and added a couple of rooms while I was gone. With past professors, it was a re-meeting and reconnecting with them as a colleague.” Capettini, who majored in English and French at Lake Forest, held a fiction reading at Lit Fest during which she read her own work and answered questions about the writing life of an English major beyond Lake Forest College.

“It was especially fun to talk to current students, answer their questions about graduate school and life after graduation, and hear what their writing interests are,” she said. “I vividly recall being absolutely terrified of my future, even with the acceptance to a doctoral program. I hope I was able to allay some fears or at least be realistic about my success. I’ve had a few career detours, such as working for a year as a barista.”

After graduating from Lake Forest College, Capettini earned her PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Now she is an assistant professor of English at Indiana State University. Her novella, Thistle, won the Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Prize and was published by Omnidawn Publishing in 2015. She also is an assistant editor at Sundress Publications.

“I learned a lot about who I was as a writer at Lake Forest. There was a lot of encouragement to experiment with writing and try things that had potential for failure, but failure wasn’t a bad thing. It meant progress.”

And Capettini’s willingness to experiment has led her down unique creative paths in her career. “I’m always looking for new ways of engaging with material in my literature and creative writing classes at Indiana State University. Next semester, I’ll be incorporating podcasts. In terms of my writing, I’m at work on a short-story collection that fully embraces my love of ghost stories and, more generally, things that haunt us.”

—Sophie Mucciaccio ’18