Ashley Farmer Mentors Creative Writing Students.


Aiesha Solomon

Ashley Farmer, an accomplished poet and author of many works, such as, The Women, The Farmacist, Beside Myself and editor of the literary journal Salt Hill.

Aiesha Solomon, Staff Writer

On Oct. 29, 2019 Ashley Farmer, an accomplished poet and author of many works, such as, The Women, The Farmacist, Beside Myself and editor of the literary journal Salt Hill, visited Montgomery College to mentor students in Creative Writing classes. Farmer did a public reading with her audience, later in the day.

She went to Professor John Wang’s creative writing classes since they have been friends since 2008 and have worked together in writing for literary journals. Working with Farmer was a great experience as we read through many flash fiction works, where the writer creates a piece of extremely short fiction that still includes characters and plot development. The stories we read included Daydream by Roberta Allen, All This by Joanne Avallon, Dinosaur by Bruce Holland Rogers, and Sticks by George Saunders. In all these stories they either fit an entire life in one or two paragraphs or slowed down a significant moment in their character’s life, also in one or two paragraphs.

It was an amazing feat that opened my mind to the many different ways a person can create a life or a world. It gives the illusion of being an easy task because it is so short, but when my entire class was asked to do it themselves, it takes a lot more practice and experience as a writer to develop a character as well as George Saunders and Mrs. Farmer. Still throughout the whole process she was encouraging and reassuring when some of the class shared their work.

Later in the day, her workshop opened to the rest of students and staff in Humanities Building Room 009 at 3:30pm. During this workshop Mrs. Farmer read some of her longer short stories and poems, as food and drink were available. Here she read a few of her poems from The Women, that are all based on terms she typed into Google, these terms are used to describe women. The words are twisted around to create a beautiful and spiritually abstract image for her readers to interpret. Hearing the author of these poems read them to us, made it a stronger and emotional experience.

After that she read one of her longer stories called Endless Night, which was published by the Santa Monica Review. This story was about a woman who turns into a coyote. This story was a ride I didn’t want to get off of, with the vivid descriptions of this were-coyote woman’s life and the way she goes on dates and works by day, then hunts and shows her fierce strength by night. Again, as Mrs. Farmer read her work to us, the vivid imagery of the woman were-coyote proving her position as the queen of the forest in all of her actions, brought the words alive and painted a vibrant picture.

After the public reading, there was a Q&A session where she answered questions such as, where she gets her inspiration? Which she answered that grief and living with the coyotes in Nevada who decimated her mother’s chicken pen. While they were ferocious, there was still a beauty to them she wanted to capture in her work Endless Night. “There’s also times where we all want to be fierce,” was the way she put it. Farmer also recommended keeping a dream journal to get inspiration and reading as much as you can. She goes through writing routines such as, writing in the public, working to get inspiration, and again reading other works. In her own words, “Writing is a lot like going to the gym. I set aside the time, I don’t always want to do it, then when I do it, I feel really good afterwards. That’s how I know I’m going to do it the next day.”

Ashley Farmer was a great visiting writer to meet that I can relate to from many of the things she shared with us, but still look up to because of her confidence, humor,  and thought provoking work. I will look forward to the novel she is working on and continue to read her already published works.