SMC MFA Reading Series Video with Shanthi Sekaran Now Online

This past April 4, 2018, yours truly had the honor to introduce and chat with the poetic storyteller Shanthi Sekaran about her new novel Lucky Boy. Sekaran is currently the 2018 Distinguished Visiting Writer in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College, and her work includesThe Prayer Room. Lucky Boy is the tale of two women who’s lives are forever linked by love and loss.

The video of her reading and our Q&A is now up as part of SMC MFA Creative Reading Series, so you can see for yourself the brilliance of Sekaran. Please treat yourself and share with other lovers of word and story.

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Magkwento: The Philippine Anglophone Literature List

Thanks to the amazing vision and dedicated work of Alden Sajor Wood, a PhD candidate in English and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine where he is completing a dissertation on Filipino and Filipino diasporic literatures, I’m honored and thrilled to be included in Magkwento: The Philippine Anglophone Literature List.

This invaluable resource is a comprehensive and inspiring directory to a growing list of literary luminaries. Please treat yourself and share the love with students, colleagues, and your favorite readers & writers.

“Recall work day mornings with your parents or guardians and write a description of their morning ritual before leaving for work”: Creative Prompt #3 for JanTerm043 “The Art of Race”

Image result for junot diaz drownStudents in yours truly Jan Term course “The Art of Race: (Re) Imagining Ethnicity, Race, and Identity in Literature, Art, & Pop Culture” are working hard on their final project, which is a creative writing assignment to write poetry, short fiction, or a personal essay inspired by the artists, writers, musicians, and theorists we’ve studied on how race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality inspire and shape creative work and how the different forms of art can redefine and interrogate notions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. We’re ending the term by looking at Junot Diaz’s Drown and his MFA vs. POC written originally for Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing for VONA workshops and later published by The New Yorker.

The students have really responded to and ran with the prompts we’ve been working with and requested a third and final prompt, which I’ve included below for you to have a go if you so choose.

Poetry:

Create a list of fifteen items, including objects, images, songs, movies, TV shows, magazines, albums, clothing, jewelry, toys, household items, etc. that remind you of your childhood. Don’t edit or over-think but try to list as many items that represent your childhood and adolescence then chose two or three and write about them in as full description as you can. What do they look like? What colors? What do they smell like? What do they sound like? What are the textures? Where are they soft? Scratchy? Smooth? Bumpy? What did it feel like to hold them? What kind of feelings surfaced when you engaged with them?  Where did they come from? Who gave them to you? Do you remember when you first received them or noticed them? What kind of memories are they attached to? What kind of wonder do they spark? Examine each carefully as if it were a precious stone or a sacred relic. How would you describe them to someone who couldn’t see and who didn’t know what your childhood meant to you?

Non-fiction:

Taking a cue from both Junot Diaz and Barbara Jane Reyes, recall work day mornings with your parents or guardians and write a description of their morning ritual before leaving for work. What did s/he wear for work (tie, heels, uniform, cuff-links)? How did s/he prepare in the morning? What kind of ritual did s/he practice? Hurried? Slow paced? Make breakfast? Rush out the door before you were awake? What kind of expression did s/he usually have? Worried? Tired? Excited? What did s/he take with him to work (briefcase, purse, coffee mug, water bottle, packed lunch)? Did you have time to talk with your parent or guardian before you both left for school or work? What did you usually talk about? Was there a specific memorable morning you shared together, and if so, what made it memorable? Conversely, recall the evenings or afternoons when your parent/guardian returned from work? What hour? Was s/he tired? Did s/he need time alone to decompress? Did s/he start cooking dinner immediately? What was the ritual returning from work?

Fiction:

Inspired by Junot Diaz, pick a memorable moment with a significant other or close friend and recreate the details of that moment. What time of day? Where were you? What where you both wearing? What was the weather like? What time of year? Who else was there? What were they saying? What were they doing? What was the dialogue between you and your significant other? What kind of tension were you facing together? What kind of tension were you both facing individually? What were your fears at the time? What were your hopes? What were your significant other’s fears and hopes? How did his/her fears and hopes conflict with yours? How did they coincide? Now twist the moment. How would it have gone differently if you said something opposite to what you actually said or did something opposite to what you actually did? Would you still be together as friends or partners? How would you have fractured or mended the relationship? How would you have complicated or simplified the moment?

More to come on “The Art of Race”…

What historical event, book, movie, TV show, physical landmark, specific place anchors your sense of self?: Creative Prompt #2 for JanTerm043 “The Art of Race”

Second creative writing prompt generated for the class yours truly is teaching, SMC Jan Term 043: “The Art of Race: (Re) Imagining Ethnicity, Race, and Identity in Literature, Art, & Pop Culture.” We’ve been exploring how race, ethnicity, identity, gender, and sexuality inspire and shape creative work, such as music, film & TV, literature, and art, and how the forms and elements of creative work can help redefine, reconstruct, interrogate, and re-imagine notions on race, gender, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. So far we’ve read poets Carlos Soto Román, Barbara Jane Reyes, Harryette Mullen, and listened to musicians such as Beyoncé and Gingee. Viewed art by Kara Walker, and watched shows such as black-ish, Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin, and Atlanta. We’re currently reading Diane Glancy’s, In-between Places  (University of Arizona Press, 2005), where she writes in her introduction:

Written language seems to me a landscape. Land bound in words. I pick up stones or rocks in travel as texts I can read.

There is a map you open like a book. There are books you open like a map.

There is a map you decide to call a book? A book of the territories you’ve traveled. A book of the in-between places you’ve lived. A map is a meaning you hold against the unknowing. The places you speak in many directions.

Image result for diane glancy in-between places

 

The below prompts are inspired by Glancy, Reyes, and Soto Roman. Have a try for yourself!

“The Art of Race” Creative Prompt #2

 for Different Literary Genres

 

Poetry:

What song/lyric/commercial/dialogue from TV or movie is stuck in your head? Look it up, so you can accurately quote, if you need to. How is this found text related to what you are feeling right now? How does it give insight or confuse or challenge your emotions or your thoughts? How is it related to something your mother/grandfather/brother/partner/friend/roommate once said or always says? Take one of the words and create a new line, phrase, or dialogue to spin it your own way.

 

Non-fiction:

What historical event, book, movie, TV show, physical landmark, specific place anchors your sense of self? Do some research on this anchor. What is its history? How did it come about? How does its story of evolution give insight into your (d)evolution? How did you first learn about this anchor? Who introduced it to you? When? Why? How do you feel about this anchor now? Does it root you or shackle you? How do you claim it as your own or how does it claim you?

 

Short Fiction:

Make a list of your fears and superstitions. Then add fears and superstitions that you know of from close friends or family. Close your eyes. Circle one of them. Whichever one you circled, have your main character confront that fear or superstition. Where are they? What are they feeling? What are they thinking? What physical sensations are they experiencing? Are they alone? Is anyone else there? If so, what are they doing? How are they helping or hindering? What do they say that worsens the situation? How does your main character fight back? How does fighting back make matters worse?

More to come on “The Art of Race”…

“What Keeps You Up at Night? What Gets You Out of Bed?”: Creative Prompts for SMC Jan Term “The Art of Race”

Week #3 of SMC Jan Term “The Art of Race” and yours truly believes the best way to describe the experience of teaching this course is through this image:

By the end of the term, I like to believe I will be ground down to an essence in which I could be sprinkled into a tasty mole.

We are moving into the final project for the course where students will choose a creative writing genre (poetry, short fiction, or the creative personal essay) to write their own story of race, identity, ethnicity, multiculturalism, difference, prejudice, and/or discrimination.

In addition to the basic principles of their chosen literary form, they are expected to incorporate ideas and creative analyses based on the authors we’ve read in class to creatively interrogate notions on how issues of race, identity, multiculturalism, difference, and prejudice intersect with imagination, literary style, and aesthetics.

Some prompts to get their creative engines revved:

Poetry:

Image result for invocation to daughtersTaking a cue from Barbara Jane Reyes poem “The Day” in Invocation to Daughters (City Lights, 2017) write about this specific moment. Note the time, the date, the location, and describe details of this particular moment for each of the seven senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, scent, balance). Note your surroundings. Where and how are you physically? How does that contrast or coincide with where and how you are mentally, emotionally, spiritually, artistically.

 

Non-fiction:

Taking a cue from Kevin Young The Gray Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, What keeps you up at night? What gets Image result for on the blackness of blacknessyou out of bed? Who is your imaginary “American”? Where does s/he come from? Describe the land? Use your senses, touch, smell, taste, see, hear, balance? What does s/he wear? Eat? How does s/he walk? Talk? How does s/he roll? What does s/he rock to or listen to? How does that music make him/her feel? What is his/her American dream?

 

Short Fiction:

Create a scene where a character first discovers s/he is different from others. Where does this scene take place? Who else is there? What are they doing? Wearing? How are they acting? How do the other characters create or take away space from your main character? How do the other characters create a mirror for the main character to see him or herself reflected? How does s/he react to his/her own self image reflected back? What kind of conflict and tension is created? Is there an exchange through words or action? How does the exchange or non-exchange heighten the interiority of tension your main character is feeling? What differences does s/he notice between her/him and the other characters? How does that affect the six senses s/he is feeling at the moment (sight, sound, taste, touch, scent, balance, and time)? What questions are raised for your main character?

More prompts to come…

 

New Releases from Brilliant Artists who are Guest Speaking for Jan Term Course “The Art of Race”

Image result for invocation to a daughter

Yours truly is  thrilled to have just confirmed three brilliant artists as guest speakers to visit my Saint Mary’s College of California’s Jan Term 043-01 course “The Art of Race: (Re) Imagining Ethnicity, Race, and Identity in Literature, Art, & Pop Culture.

Each of these artists have recently released new work, which I have no doubt will engage and inspire my students.

I met our first guest speaker during my residency at MacDowell Arts Colony. Carlos Soto Román will be video conferencing from Santiago, Chile to discuss his new chapbook Bluff (Commune Editions), which you can download here.  He’ll discuss with the class his poetics and process of erasure or redacted poetry and the use of found text. As with my students, I invite you to challenge your pleasures by having a go at his work with the selections below: 

Image result for carlos soto Roman
 A Bad Penny Review:

 

Image result for barbara jane reyesOur second guest speaker is long time friend and deeply inspiring poet, professor, and community advocate (I owe so much to her!), Barbara Jane Reyes, who will be visiting our class on campus to discuss her new book just released from City Lights, Invocation to Daughters. Have a taste of her words here, courtesy of Poetry Foundation.

 

Our third guest speaker, who will round at our term is long time fellow Angelena, who I met lifetimes ago at the L.A. based Wide Eyed Workshops,  musician and artist Marjorie Light. Video conferencing from the City of Angels, Light just released her latest album Bundok. Give your self an aural treat of her latest tracks here and find out more about her work with KCET’s feature article.

Image result for marjorie light

I also need to give a shout out to all the crew of SMC’s ITS who have been working with me to get all the tech ready for the video conferencing to Santiago, Chile, and Los Angeles, CA. Fingers crossed that all the equipment and connections sync for the big dates!

I’m in awe of all these artists and am truly grateful to each of them for taking the time to share their work and inspire my students. More to come about “The Art of Race” and our guest speaker visits, so stay tuned…

Have to share this fabulous cover art for Bundok by Gingee

Upcoming Reading: Saturday 4 November, 8pm “Lone Glen: Writers who Parent/Parents who Write @ Temescal Art Center, Oakland

Organized by poet and educator Alexandra Mattraw Rosenboom , we invite you to join us at Lone Glen: “Writers who Parent/ Parents who Write” on Saturday, November 4th at 8 pm at Temescal Art Center in Oakland  (511 48th Street) to hear work from Megan Breiseth, Lauren Levin, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Sara Mumolo, and Amos White. In our community, what role does parenting play in the creative process, and what role does the imagination play in the journey of raising a child? How does the act of parenting serve as a constraint, or not, as we express ourselves in writing and in other art forms? Come out to hear what these parent writers are thinking about in their work and about their process. A brief Q and A will follow their readings.

Here are the authors:

Megan Breiseth is the author of the chapbook Zia (Mrs. Maybe Press), co-author of the chapbook the longer you stay here (Aggregate Space Gallery) and two manuscripts-in-progress. She works as an educator and lives in Alameda, CA with her wife, son, and cats.

Lauren Levin is the author of THE BRAID (Krupskaya, 2016) and the forthcoming JUSTICE PIECE/TRANSMISSION (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018) as well as several chapbooks, including The Lens (Little Red Leaves, 2014) and Working (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2012). From 2011-2014, she co–edited the Poetic Labor Project. She grew up in New Orleans and lives in Richmond, CA with her family.

Rashaan Alexis Meneses has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle, UK, and the Jacob K. Javits Program. Her fiction and non-fiction has been featured in various journals and anthologies, including Kartika Review, Puerto Del Sol, New Letters, BorderSenses, Kurungabaa, The Coachella Review, Pembroke Magazine, Doveglion Press, and the anthology Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s hiking trails along the coast of California. You can find her at https://rashaanalexismeneses.com/

Sara Mumolo is the author of Mortar (Omnidawn, 2013) and the Associate Director for the MFA in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College of CA. She created and curated the Studio One Reading Series in Oakland, CA from 2007-2012, and Cannibal Books published her chapbook, March, in 2011. She has received residencies to Vermont Studio Center, Caldera Center for the Arts, and has served as a curatorial resident at Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland, CA. Her next book Day Counter is forthcoming in 2018 from Omnidawn.

Amos White is an awarded American haiku poet and author, producer/director and activist, recognized for his vivid literary imagery and breathless poetic interpretations. Amos is published in several national and international reviews and anthologies. He is Founder and Host of the Heart of the Muse creative’s salon, Executive Producer and Host of Beyond Words: Jazz+Poetry show; Producer the Oakland Haiku and Poetry Festival, and serves on several literary and arts nonprofit boards.​ http://www.about.me/amoswhite http://www.facebook.com/amoswhitehaiku

ASUR Presents Upcoming August Workshops on Writing + Resistance

Please spread the word and consider attending these upcoming workshops on creativity + resistance.  Please note : must preorder $5-20 tix to attend

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/witness-and-resistance-in-the-mind-and-on-the-page-tickets-36624691438

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/witness-and-resistance-in-body-and-story-tickets-36625572072

Witness and Resistance in Body and Story

 

Alley Cat Bookstore and Gallery

3036 24th Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

Lifting Scars with Sharon Coleman
A somatic writing and movement workshop by Sharon Coleman. 2-3pm
Resilience depends on the quick scarring over of wounds, both psychic and physical. And they remain with us usually forever. They are emblems of what has touched us. They mend muscle and thought but leave tissue that interferes with movement and neuro-plasticity. In this workshop, we’ll use movement and writing to explore the shapes left by scars and to find movement, resilience, and determination from what has marked us. Wear comfortable clothes and bring a notebook and pen.
BIO: Sharon Coleman’s a fifth-generation Northern Californian with a penchant for languages and their entangled word roots. She has taught poetry, creative writing and composition for fifteen years at Berkeley City College. She writes for Poetry Flash, co-curates the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and co-directs the Berkeley Poetry Festival. She’s the author of a chapbook of poetry, Half Circle, and a book of micro-fiction, Paris Blinks (Paper Press 2016.)

The Composer’s Notebook with Tongo Eisen-Martin
In this workshop from 3-4pm, community worker and poet, Tongo Eisen-Martin explores how engagement in community can be channeled into music, innovation, and poetry.

BIO: Born in San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a movement worker, educator, and poet who has organized against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people throughout the United States. He is the author of someone’s dead already (Bootstrap Press, 2015), which was nominated for a California Book Award. He has educated in detention centers from New York’s Rikers Island to California’s San Quentin State Prison. His work in Rikers Island was featured in the New York Times. He was also adjunct faculty at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. Subscribing to the Freirian model of education, he designed curricula for oppressed people’s education projects from San Francisco to South Africa. His latest curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, We Charge Genocide Again, has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country. He uses his craft to create liberated territory wherever he performs and teaches. He recently lived and organized around issues of human rights and self-determination in Jackson, MS.

TWO MORE WRITING + ACTIVISM WORKSHOPS

From writing prompt to action with Maya Chinchilla

How do you cultivate a reflective stance in your writing and prompts to invigorate your writing and activism? This will be addressed in Maya Chapina’s workshop at 2pm.

BIO: Maya Chinchilla is a Guatemalan, Bay Area-based writer, video artist, educator and author of “The Cha Cha Files: A Chapina Poética.” Maya received her MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College and her undergraduate degree from University of California, Santa Cruz, where she also founded and co-edited the annual publication, La Revista. Maya writes and performs poetry that explores themes of historical memory, heartbreak, tenderness, sexuality, and alternative futures. Her work —sassy, witty, performative, and self-aware— draws on a tradition of truth-telling and poking fun at the wounds we carry.

Her work has been published in anthologies and journals including: Mujeres de Maíz, Sinister Wisdom, Americas y Latinas: A Stanford Journal of Latin American Studies, Cipactli Journal, and The Lunada Literary Anthology. Maya is a founding member of the performance group Las Manas, a former artist-in-residence at Galería de La Raza in San Francisco, CA, and La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, CA, and is a VONA Voices, Dos Brujas and Letras Latinas workshop alum. She is the co-editor of “Desde El Epicentro: An anthology of Central American Poetry and Art” and is a lecturer at San Francisco State University, UC Davis and other Bay Area universities.

ResistBot Poems with Raina J. León

In this workshop at 3pm, we will write poetry and prose of resistance and use the tool, ResistBot, to send these pieces to our representatives and senators. Bring your notebooks, pens, and phones (if you have them) to text through ResistBot.

BIO:

Raina J. León, PhD, CantoMundo fellow, Cave Canem graduate fellow (2006) and member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, has been published in numerous journals as a writer of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn,sombra: (dis)locate (2016) and the chapbook, profeta without refuge (2016)She has received fellowships and residencies with Macondo, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Montana Artists Refuge, the Macdowell Colony, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, among others. She is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She is an associate professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California.

 

For more info click on these links:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/witness-and-resistance-in-the-mind-and-on-the-page-tickets-36624691438

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/witness-and-resistance-in-body-and-story-tickets-36625572072

Early Bird Registration for Hedgebrook Bridging One Day Retreat ends Friday, May 19

Bridging: A One-Day Hedgebrook Writing Retreat
With Keynote Speaker Karen Joy Fowler
At Saint Mary’s College of California
Hedgebrook and SMC MFA in Creative Writing are collaborating to present a one-day writing retreat for women and female-identified writers.

Date: Saturday, June 10, 2017

Time: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm

Register Here

Location:
Saint Mary’s College of California
1928 Saint Mary’s Road
Moraga, CA 94575

Keynote Speaker
Karen

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of seven novels and three short story collections. Her most recent novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was short listed for the Man Booker Prize, winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award and The California Book Award for Fiction. The Jane Austen Book Club spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was a New York Times Notable Book. Fowler’s previous novel, Sister Noon, was a finalist for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Her debut novel, Sarah Canary, was a New York Times Notable Book, as was her second novel, The Sweetheart Season. In addition, Sarah Canary won the Commonwealth medal for best first novel by a Californian, and was listed for the Irish Times International Fiction Prize as well as the Bay Area Book Reviewers Prize. Fowler’s short story collection Black Glass won the World Fantasy Award in 1999, and her collection What I Didn’t See won the World Fantasy Award in 2011. Fowler and her husband, who have two grown children and seven grandchildren, live in Santa Cruz, California. She is the co-founder of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award and has served as president of the Clarion Foundation (also known as Clarion San Diego). karenjoyfowler.com

Workshops

From Artist Statement to Press Kit: A Po-Biz* Workshop

Raina

Raina J. León has been published in numerous journals as a writer of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She is a Cave Canem graduate fellow (2006), CantoMundo fellow, Macondo fellow, and member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, She is the author of three collections of poetry, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, and sombra: (dis)locate (2016) and the chapbook, profeta without refuge (2016). She has received fellowships and residencies with the Montana Artists Refuge, the Macdowell Colony, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale. She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She is an associate professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California. http://www.rainaleon.com

*Poetry Business

Story Development: Plot, Character and 7 Steps to Authentic Storytelling

image 1Angie Powers has an M.F.A. in English and Creative Writing from Mills College, where she won the Amanda Davis Thesis Award for her novel, The Blessed. She also has a Certificate in Screenwriting from the Professional Programs at UCLA. She is the co-director and co-writer of the short Little Mutinies (distributed by Frameline and an official selection of the Palm Springs International Short Fest) andwas a quarter-finalist for the Nicholl Fellowship and at Blue Cat Screenplay Competition for the full-length screenplay of Little Mutinies. She is currently in development on a feature-length comedy Lost in the Middle. She is a teacher and cofounder at bookwritingworld.com. Angiepowers.com

Flash Nonfiction: Sharpening Your Story for the Short and Long Haul

image 3 Jill Kolongowski is the author of Life Lessons Harry Potter Taught Me, forthcoming from Ulysses Press. She is also the managing editor at YesYes Books. Her essays have won Sundog Lit’s First Annual Contest series and the Diana Woods Memorial Prize in Creative Nonfiction at Lunch Ticket magazine. Other essays are published in Profane, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Forklift, Ohio, Southern Indiana Review, Fugue, and elsewhere. Jill was born in Michigan, but now lives near San Francisco, where she teaches writing, hikes, and watches Chopped marathons.

Applying for Fellowships and Residencies: Writing Personal Statements and Project Proposals

image 4 Rashaan Alexis Meneses has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle, UK, and the Jacob K. Javits Program. Her fiction and non-fiction is published in various journals and anthologies, including Kartika Review, Puerto Del Sol, New Letters, BorderSenses, Kurungabaa, The Coachella Review, Pembroke Magazine, Doveglion Press, and the anthology Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults. You can find her at rashaanalexismeneses.com

Cost
$115 until May 6
$130 after May 6
Limited partial scholarships available. EmailJoanne Furio for an application.
Special accommodations available. Email Joanne Furio.

Cost includes:

Food (three meals, happy hour, and evening cake and coffee)
Vegan and gluten-free options available
Networking opportunities with Bay Area women writers’ groups
An evening keynote by Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Sister Noon and Black Glass and Hedgebrook alumna
Your choice of one of four afternoon workshops
Funds raised from the retreat benefit both programs and the newly established Hedgebrook scholarship for a St. Mary’s MFA student.

 

More info here.