An Afternoon with Elizabeth Rush and the Common Reading Program

On February 24th, I had the chance to participate in the Common Reading Program’s author interview of Elizabeth Rush. Dr. Don Presnell led the event with questions from the audience which included ASU faculty, staff, students, and other viewers from all walks of life. He was joined by student panelists which included Gabi Gonzalez, Hannah Rudick, and myself. This conversation covered everything from tips on the structure of narrative to the current outlook on environmentalism and climate change. 

Elizabeth Rush read from and discussed her book Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore which is an impactful look into the elements of society, sacrifice, and the changes that occur within communities as a result of rising tidewaters and a lack of action against it. It is deeply human and speaks to a greater sense of community than I originally expected. This connectivity among all of us and the human features of tidewaters became apparent when she read, 

“But if something can be done to slow down the tide and they can save what they still have, they should do it. If you come right down to it we’re all up against coastal erosion. We’re all impacted by it. It has taken the island away from us and in the future, it’s going to take other places as well. I may be uncertain about a lot of things, but not about this here.” 

This book will be familiar to all freshman and first-year students as it is the Common Reading book selected for all incoming students for the current 2020-2021 academic year. If you’ve taken a First Year Seminar course, then you will already have read or discussed this book. If you didn’t take a UCO 1200 class, I still urge you to pick up a copy and delve into the intricacies of climate change from perspectives all over the country. This book evokes emotions in the rawest form, and Elizabeth Rush offered wonderful insight into her own work and writing process. 

The recording of this interview and past interviews with Elizabeth Rush can be found here. The Common Reading Program, under Dr. Don Presnell’s leadership, is looking to expand and will have more exciting events in the future. Keep an eye on their progress and look forward to another YouTube livestream event with Rush later this month on Wednesday, March 24, at 3:30 p.m. 

Written by: Daniel Wartham

Photo Credits: screen-captured images taken by Daniel Wartham

Elizabeth Rush
Published: Mar 12, 2021 9:44pm