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Erma’s essence

3:48 PM  Apr 7th, 2016
by Lexie Digby '15

After nearly five years on campus, UD has continued to provide me with new experiences, even in my last month as a student.

March 31 marked the beginning of the ninth biennial Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. And thanks to the generous spirit of the Alumni Association, students such as myself were able to receive scholarships to attend the workshop to learn about humor writing, creative writing, human interest writing, and so much more.

Celebrated alumna Erma Fiste Bombeck ’49 heard three words from English professor Brother Tom Price, S.M., and her life was never the same: “You can write!”

She became one of the most well-known humor writers of her time, not only for her quick wit and ability to laugh at the everyday, but also for pioneering a new narrative.

Her column, At Wit’s End, was published three times a week by hundreds of newspapers nationwide. And while the weekend celebrated her spirit by allowing writers to come together and exchange advice on their craft, many participants attested to the sort of spiritual renewal they felt after attending the workshop. And after the one-woman play that was performed based on Erma’s life and column, it’s easy to see why. Actress Barbara Chisolm owned Erma’s essence by conveying her wit while also reminding the audience why writing is good for the soul, and important for morale.

Erma was not only inspiring because of her talent, but because of the way she gave a voice to a demographic that had previously never embraced one. By sharing the humor she found in her everyday life, she helped to advance the feminist movement of the 1960s and ’70s.

She once said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

Her writing tiptoed that line beautifully. And by finding the humor in the hurt, she helped give legitimacy to the most necessary of narratives, those of our mothers.



One Response to Erma’s essence

  1. I’m a UD alumni who read Erma’s columns in Dayton, and who loved her wit and humor! Read her books, and they resonated. After getting my masters’ at UD, I had a career in computer science and engineering, and had a successful career, but with 3 children her words were always so true! Always admired that she came from UD! I’m 72 now, and would still reread her books!

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