Ten years ago, the unthinkable occurred. It was so shocking when a plane crashed into the first tower on Sept. 11, 2001, most people remember exactly where they were when they heard the news. Photographs of loved ones, commemorative memorials and stories continue to remind us of what happened.

“Ten Years Later,” the latest issue from the transatlantic literary magazine Granta, recognizes the people affected by the tragedy. A compilation of stories of similar themes, the magazine will have its global release this month, accompanied by an international conversation taking place in more than 50 cities worldwide. One of them took place in Ann Arbor yesterday at Nicola’s Books on Jackson Ave.

A literary panel composed of University professors and Granta contributors spoke about the national tragedy and how literature has shifted in a post-9/11 world.

“We have an international and writerly community here, so it makes sense that this would happen in Ann Arbor,” event moderator Jeremiah Chamberlin said in an interview prior to the panel. Chamberlin is the associate director of the English Department Writing Program, editor in chief of Fiction Writers Review and a former Granta contributor.

“(The University) has a very strong writing program, only second in the country to Iowa, and we have many local writers,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that an international journal would come to us and say that they think our community is a great place to begin this discussion.”

Last night, a rain-soaked crowd of roughly 50 people found coffee, conversation and refuge in Nicola’s Books. Perched upon mismatched chairs, couches and benches that were fit snugly amongst shelves and tables filled with stacks of books, the audience of students, writers and readers eagerly awaited the event.

The evening began with readings by Chamberlin and the three other University writers who comprised the panel. Following the readings, participants had a discussion about the impact of Sept. 11 on the writing community on a national and international level.

“ ‘Ten Years Later’ takes a really interesting approach to this topic,” Chamberlin told the Daily. “Some of the stories are very clearly related to 9/11. There’s a story called ‘Deployment’ about a U.S. Marine who comes home from Iraq and has to rehabilitate to living in the United States, where he’s not in danger all the time.”

Chamberlin noted other pieces written about Guantanamo Bay, which also are connected to 9/11.

“But then there’s another piece that is set in Paris and isn’t related directly to 9/11 except that something related to mortality is in play,” he said.

Regardless of how each piece relates to 9/11, themes that tie the stories, essays and poems together in “Ten Years Later” include belonging, living in a changed landscape and mortality.

According to Chamberlin, “Ten Years Later” takes an international snapshot of how the world looks today, post-9/11, from perspectives of those who were directly affected, as well as those who weren’t.

“One of the things I most admire about this particular issue of Granta is that ‘Ten Years Later’ reminds us that this experience is not ours alone and that the ripple effect of it has traveled around the entire globe,” Chamberlin said.

Granta’s issue also serves as an example of how people use writing to process what goes on around them, especially when caught in a crisis or tragedy like the attacks on Sept. 11.

“I think 9/11 was such a national trauma in the United States that many people turned both to writing and reading accounts of it,” said Linda Gregerson, a poet, professor of English and previous contributor to Granta. “Writing is a crucial way for human beings to process what is otherwise impossible to take in, in scope and consequence.”

According to Gregerson, writing as an art form is not only a way to process experiences but also is a way to experience tragedy in the lives of others.

“There’s a lot of strength in writing,” Gregerson said. “It’s one of the ways we try to locate our emotions. There’s nothing like language for its precision It helps us to come to further clarity about our experiences.”

Megan Levad, assistant director of the creative writing program at the University, also noted the key role writing took on in post-9/11 culture.

“Writing has the ability to articulate the way a person’s internal thought processes work,” Levad said. “It replicates really personal experiences, and because it does that, there’s a way in which writing can draw upon the reader’s empathy even if the reader has never experienced what they’re reading about.”

In today’s world, growing up around TVs and computer screens is accepted and embraced, but when talking about immensely traumatic events like Sept. 11, Chamberlin noted, written stories, memoirs and essays still remain the most powerful medium for sharing experiences.

“We look at paintings, and we watch films, but when you read, you’re literally inside a character. That’s what’s unique (about stories),” Chamberlin said. “When we’re reading about these challenging situations, we’re living a Marine’s redeployment, and we feel his fear as he can’t rid himself of the feeling of walking through Fallujah in Iraq — we feel that danger.”

“Ten Years Later” recognizes that citizens in the United States will continue to remember Sept. 11 long after its 10th anniversary, but it also reminds us that this tragedy is international and still felt worldwide.

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