Written by Heather Verani
This Wednesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Millersville alumni Tyler Barton, a writer who is hosting a fiction reading event of his debut short-story collection Eternal Night at the Nature Museum. This literary event takes place on March 28th at 7pm in McNairy Library at the alumni reading room (room 100).
Eternal Night at the Nature Museum received its interesting title based off of one of Barton’s previous works which is featured in this short-story collection. “It’s a short little one-page story” he describes, “that could also be considered as a prose poem because it’s very lyrical and shifting in a lot of different directions in a single page.” This almost-poetic short story is about a person being in a nature museum when a nuclear disaster strikes, and explores what it would be like to survive if that became your home for such an event. Although the collection of short stories don’t have a connecting thread, such as all the characters living in the same place or time, they do all share a common theme of home. Barton further explains this by stating all the stories deal with home by “either losing it, deciding to leave it, or finding it in a place you didn’t expect.” These stories differ in content, as they follow the lives of a variety of characters in disparate circumstances, such as having their house explode, or being evicted and accidentally joining a cult, but comes together as each character seeks to define what home is to them.
Barton started his writing career when he was a freshman in response to his feelings of disconnection and uncertainty of his community at Millersville. His practice of writing allowed him to connect with other students, like his now best friend Elliot White, whom he would trade stories with to get feedback. With his involvement in with creating creative writing clubs on campus, along with being a part of the creative writer’s guild, Barton left Millersville with an excitement for writing. After he graduated, Barton explains how he got the “bug” for writing and started publishing stories online. This led to him getting his MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato where he wrote all the stories that became the Eternal Night at the Nature Museum. The book was then published in 2021.
At the fiction reading event for Barton’s collection of short stories, students can expect the author to read some pieces from the book. He explains that although some don’t enjoy live literary readings, even some writer’s themselves, he finds they provide a space for readers to “engage with and understand the work better when hearing from the author’s voice.” At the event, Barton will also take questions and talk to students about their own interest in writing.
We are so happy to welcome Tyler back, and hope to see you at the event!