Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fiction Workshops

12/03 Thursday In-class writing
Students wishing to be workshopped one last time distribute stories with copies enough for everyone.

12/08 Tuesday
Mini workshops for students.

12/10 Thursday
Final Stories due. (One copy to be turned into me. Only students who did not do the workshop are required to turn these in.)

Wed. Fri.

F 12/04 Conferences at Starving Artist from 1-3:30

W 12/09 In Class Writing/Workshop distribution (if anyone is doing that)

F 12/11 Final Stories Due to me in class.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In-Class Writing & New Prompt

1. Invent a piece of news and use it in your story.
2. Employ the kind of thinking that goes into the famous Chandler quote:
"He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food cake." and use one or more examples in your piece of writing.
3. Use at least three flavors &/or textures that feel strange, foreign, new or odd to your characters.

Some Writing Guides Full of Prompts

for the road and the after-workshop days ahead.

What If? Anne Bernays, Pamela Painter
The Practice of Poetry. Robin Behn
The Art of Fiction. John Gardner
Making Shapely Fiction. Jerome Stern

Some more good reading:

Metamorphosis Franz Kafka (a classic, of course)

Paired w/ (and as suggested by one of your peers)

Kockroach Tyler Knox (described as Met. in reverse)

Friday, November 27, 2009

With Thanks for My Awesome Students!

Hope you're all enjoying the break, the rest and the extra time for all of those end-of-term projects.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ah, Shucks

I'll truly miss you guys. Have a happy Thanksgiving break, a safe holiday and come back all lit up with literature!

Okay, just come back and I'll help you slog through to the end.

Your sappy teacher, s
...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903in Letters to a Young Poet


On writing the emotionally-loaded topic but using form to dissipate the sentimentality.

Writing Assignment

Put a character into a setting where s/he is preparing for an activity, an event, a celebration--in any event, a gathering that includes one or more characters or anticipated settings (stations of memory/nostalgia) that hold a friction or tension within them.

Do not blatantly name the tension or remembered conflict/loss/incident, instead hint at it through the activity and details of the activity that the character is engaging in in preparation.

Optional words or details you might include:
slotted spoon, gin rummy, avocado, bookmark, papyrus, the color of any sky in any weather, a kind of cloud, clowns, a harp, harpsichord or harmonica, a hairstyle, chia pet, a kind of beauty/grooming product, any spice or seasoning, an automotive part.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dream House Assignment

A paragraph per room.
Each room should contain one thing that is out of the ordinary.
Ex: We kept the flowerbox in the laundry room and the linen closet in the kitchen.

One paragraph minimum should contain an odd p-o-v choice--the family pet, a houseplant, the mailbox, whatever.
Ex: There were only six of them and they wandered my halls like crooks. The smallest of them wore jumpsuits, made messes and noise. The largest of them brought out the arthritis in my floor-boards.

Use at least one type of fabric, one intrusion, (whatever that means to you), one happy accident, and one form of correspondence.

The piece should be no longer than 500 words total.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fiction Workshops

The piece we read in class

is to inform the assignment where you work to answer, employing as much anaphora as you can stomach, one specific question. Consider how many textures, specific details, and the like that Wright employs.

This will be the assignment that you type up, bring to class and workshop. Everyone is to bring in sufficient copies for your group and then we'll discuss them as a class.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Creative Writing Assignment Word Bank

Remember, in addition to this assignment, you are reading Amy Hempel's story (link below) and are prepared to discuss it on Thursday. (Friday class, you will do the writing exercise and we'll discuss Hempel on Wednesday of next week.)


W-F: vicarious, akimbo, reticent, lavish, plethora, Contusion, Pluck, Philander,asundry, Cocktail, intoxication, silhouette, fusion

Prestidigitation Eulogia Genteel Necrosis Jugulation Torsion Corporal Angioplasty
Consumption Catharsis Azure Yawp Gossamer Merkin

1. Were it not for__________, might have ______________

2. There are no absolutes in _________, except for __________ and _____________.

3. Every good____________ relies on ____________________

4. Rounding the corner of _________ and ___________

Student Competition

Monday, November 9, 2009

Contemporary Lit. Imitation Assignment

Consider Mary Oliver's poem When Death Comes and her Wild Geese poem. (Both good examples of her work.) Then look at Matthew Dickman's poem:
When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla
you must count yourself lucky.
You must offer her what’s left
of your dinner, the book you were trying to finish
you must put aside,
and make her a place to sit at the foot of your bed,
her eyes moving from the clock
to the television and back again.
I am not afraid. She has been here before
and now I can recognize her gait
as she approaches the house.
Some nights, when I know she’s coming,
I unlock the door, lie down on my back,
and count her steps
from the street to the porch.
Tonight she brings a pencil and a ream of paper,
tells me to write down
everyone I have ever known,
and we separate them between the living and the dead
so she can pick each name at random.
I play her favorite Willie Nelson album
because she misses Texas
but I don’t ask why.
She hums a little,
the way my brother does when he gardens.
We sit for an hour
while she tells me how unreasonable I’ve been,
crying in the checkout line,
refusing to eat, refusing to shower,
all the smoking and all the drinking.
Eventually she puts one of her heavy
purple arms around me, leans
her head against mine,
and all of a sudden things are feeling romantic.
So I tell her,
things are feeling romantic.
She pulls another name, this time
from the dead,
and turns to me in that way that parents do
so you feel embarrassed or ashamed of something.
Romantic? she says,
reading the name out loud, slowly,
so I am aware of each syllable, each vowel
wrapping around the bones like new muscle,
the sound of that person’s body
and how reckless it is,
how careless that his name is in one pile and not the other.

and this poem from Eliot Wilson's book This Island of Dogs.

Swans: Against Mary Oliver
Did you, too, see it, falling through moon-hung mists to the black mirror lake?
Did you see it in the silver morning, drifting down, swinging into the wind,
a bough of magnolias, a bustle of satin white spun from the moon,
a votive whiteness, testing the air, trumpeting the dawn with its ebony beak?
Did you hear it, clarion clear, its feet and wings
making a cross of cascade as it lands
by your pallid decoys
as you slide back the pit cover?
And did you hear the guns of your buddies pounding
around you as you pull up on the closest swan, a young gander, and fire?
And did you see it crumple like a blasted pillow?
And did you see it, wounded, weakly try to escape
the dogs? And have you reloaded?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quixotic Fiction Workshops One & All


As we are wrapping up Round Two, your assignment for our next in-class writings is to bring in a word that you'd like for us to master. I am looking for a good vocabulary word, something with nice sounds, whose origin and use we might become more familiar.

Bring your word in for next class and we'll make a big list as a group. The other parts of the assignment will be included at that time.

For now, I'd like for you to read: In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried by Amy Hempel.
Consider for our discussion, what the title has to do with the story, and how and why the random, digressive facts work through the story. Be able to discuss Hempel's techniques and how they work for or against the notion that large topics, such as death, are difficult in the realm of short fiction.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some Words on Creative Non Fiction

I thought that both the workshops and lit. students might enjoy this post by a poet and creative non-fiction author about what CNF is. I plan to teach a class at some point and know that Akhim often offers one, as well. This just offers another view at what people talk about when they talk about creative non-fiction.

See you soon my zombie assassins, fans-of-gruesome-eyeball stories and soon-to-be cupcakers. Fight this grey day! Fight this grey day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"No Ideas But in Things" WCW

"The natural object is always the adequate symbol." Ezra Pound

Key concepts of Modernism. Also, note the possibilities for imitation in poems such as Patterson. (Getting at a place through collage, etc.)

Contemporary Lit.

T 11/03 William Carlos Williams Film and/or Discussion. Be ready to do either/both.

Homework: Read Marianne Moore's bio. and all poems here: (poems in links to the right).

H 11/05 Williams & Moore discussion.
Homework: (Hefty reading, plan for it and be prepared. A quiz is always possible.)
Bio and all Dickinson poems. (Most are short, all read through very fluidly.)
Robert Frost:
Plus the poems: Design, Stopping By Woods, The Road Not Taken, After Apple-Picking, For Once, Then Something.

T 11/10 Discussion Frost & Dickinson.
H 11/12 Discussion continues.

Homework: Write an imitation of one of the poems or poets that we've read (Pound, Williams, Stevens, Eliot, Moore, Frost, Dickinson etc.) Bring in enough copies for everyone in class on Tuesday and we'll "workshop" the poems. Make sure your copies are typed-up, cleanly edited and revised. Some examples of how one goes about imitating will be discussed in class. Consider the parody.

Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach

Note to the worriers: This assignment is meant to be a fun way to get numbers in the gradebook. It will not be graded as if it were a creative writing class, so be original, and have fun with it. I'll give more ideas and examples in class and we'll just have a good time with our final pre-Thanksgiving written assignment.

T 11/17 Handing out of poems to everyone and workshopping.
HOmework: Workshop notes for poems distributed. Reading: Beat Poet,
Alan Ginsberg. (yes, I know that we've studied him during presentations but I'd like for you to see the text and to review.)

H 11/19 Likely a continuation of workshop and/or The Beat Movement.

T 11/24 Catching up what remains. Homework:
Read a brief overview of the New York School:
Kenneth Koch (brief bio) and this poem:
Frank O'Hara (bio on the left and these three short poems)

and Confessionalists. Reading: (all poems and the bio.) Also, these:

Sylvia Plath: TBA (keep checking for these readings)

Robert Lowell: TBA

and final assignment: A response to the poets we have read subsequent to the Modernists. Consider the Beats, the Confessionalists or an author of your choosing, as long as you discuss it with me prior to beginning. Your response will be ekphrastic in the broadest sense. You might write a poem, story, essay or song in response to a writer or entire movement. You might respond in other art: illustration, painting, animation, sculpture. In addition to the assignment, I want to see a grammatically-polished, edited and typed "artist statement" for your piece, 250 word minimum. If your response is a written piece (say a series of poems based on Ginsberg or a story written with Robert Lowell in mind,) you will still discuss how you employed some of the same conventions as the piece that inspired. You can also discuss what you left-out or opposed in your piece. We can discuss all of this further in class. Feel free to ask any questions you have about the assignment. (Not due until 12/08)

H 11/26 Happy Thanksgiving!

T 12/01 Confessionalists

H 12/03 Continued

T 12/08 Final Assignments Due for Presentations.

H 12/10 Cupcakes and final words
Fall Semester Ends

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Literature Class

Tuesday 10/27 Intro Pound. The River Merchant's Wife.
Homework: Read ALL of the biography and the poems

Read bio. and poems for Williams.

Thursday Complete Pound discussion. Begin Williams:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Minimalism, Raymond Carver & What we Talk About When We Talk About Realists

Raymond Carver collections are all worth-it reads but especially:
What we Talk About When we Talk about Love
Cathedral and Will You Please be Quiet, Please?
(a good little fansite and includes a story from Where I'm Calling from. Very short and very Carver at his minimalistic-heights.) (excellent interviews here--highly recommend you check them out.)

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All My Talented Students: Poets, Writers, Photographers

This journal, its contest. If you enter and show me you did, I'll throw in a little extra credit (something I never offer). NOVEMBER 1 DEADLINE--HURRY!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today's In-Class Assignment

is to include at least two notes from a flyer or advertisement and one news story--news of the weird, local paper, etc.--and may nothing more than passing news to the story or serve as a metaphor in a larger, recurring way.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fiction Workshops

The distribution of stories for the next round will be on Friday for my W-F class and Thursday for my T-H gang.

That means that Groups One for both classes will have their first workshop on Tuesday & Wednesday of the week after (10/20 & 10/21, I believe.)

Some Suggested (Optional) Reading & Authors

Geek Love--Katherine Dunn
The History of Luminous Motion---Scott Bradfield
White People—Allan Gurganus

Donald Barthelme
Frederick Barthelme
Karen Brennan
Francois Camoin
Raymond Carver
Michael Cunningham
Jeffrey Eugenedes
Ellen Gilchrist
Barry Hannah
Laura Kasischke
Susan Minot
Lorrie Moore
Alice Munro
Z.Z. Packer
Grace Paley
Wendy Rawlings
Melanie Rae Thon

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fiction Workshop Assignments

1. A type of seed
2. A song title or artist from more than five years ago. (The longer-ago, the better.)
3. A kind of metal

Extra assignment:

1. Take two characters who share a memory and place them in a setting that involves a third character who must be told or blocked from the information. Make the way that this plays out employ much showing, no obvious expository moves and a delicate threading in of the information.

2. Two characters are being acquainted for the first time. One is more uneasy about this than the other and has something that needs to be said during this meeting. WITHOUT using internal dialogue or thinking on the part of either character, find a way to get this information across while employing something from the setting in which they are meeting. Make the setting slightly odd or memorable.

3. Have a character let the story know some information. (In W-F class, this was the example we discussed with the character who had had the flu many times.)

Example: "Polly and I were walking through the cemetary off of the highway, it's what we did on the long afternoons between her father's away-time and his few days home again.
"Look at this one," she said, "we could put a bucket of September flowers right here, some pillows there inside, we could bring our favorite books and read stories every day."
I was starting to feel feverish, the early signs of what would be the sixth bout of flu since March. Polly was skipping up to the mausoleums, wishing one could be our clubhouse. I stopped at Zebediah August born April 1, 1901, died July 14, 1918 and wondering how such a boy became, his long limbs bony from the sickness, his skin a healthy sun-baked color that glowed-out a thinner pallor, something earthworm-belly and ailing. I wasn't feeling so hot and Polly was humming that Russian folk song again and I knew that she was missing her mother..."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fiction Workshop New Writing Assignment

1. Use an existing character, scene or setting from your own work.

2. Have a piece of correspondence that is not intended for the character that finds it. This should not be a plot-shattering or radically-transformative event.

3. Include a bird

4. and a piece of sheet music

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Prompt & Submission Opportunity Fiction Workshop

Call for Submissions
Doorknobs & BodyPaint (flash fiction)
publication online
October 18, 2009 deadline
Theme: All saints

Send submissions to any of the addresses listed below:

So many saints; too few days. So, each year we set aside a day to honor All Saints. Those little know. Those without days of honor. Small children press wilted marigolds at their feet; mothers-to-be press new candles on their altars; old men and women press lips to the hem of their gowns. We honor them with these acts of praise and gifts hoping that when we need them they will intervene. Some of them are so little known that only we know what they have endured and why they will support us and our dreams. Write a story within the limits of our contest guidelines (hoops):


In Edith Wharton's ghost story, "Pomegranate Seed," newlywed Charlotte Ashby is concerned by the arrival of a gray envelope addressed to her husband Kenneth when they return home from their honeymoon. Shortly after, another envelope arrives. Then, another and another. Charlotte is convinced that another woman is trying to ruin their marriage. When Charlotte asks him to go away with her on a holiday, he wearily answers.

“Don't ask me. I can't leave -- I can't!"
"You mean that you can't go away out of reach of those letters!"
... She continued to kneel at his side, and raising her hands, she drew his gently down. She was ashamed of her persistence, ashamed of uncovering that baffled disordered face, yet resolved that no such scruples should arrest her. His eyes were lowered, the muscles of his face quivered; she was making him suffer even more than she suffered herself. Yet this no longer restrained her.
"Kenneth, is it that? She won't let us go away together?"
Still he did not speak or turn his eyes to her; and a sense of defeat swept over her. After all, she thought, the struggle was a losing one. "You needn't answer. I see I'm right," she said.

In fact, Kenneth suddenly agrees to go away with his wife. When she and her mother-in-law arrive home, he can't be found and a letter is waiting for him. The elder Mrs. Ashby recognizes the writing. In 450 words or less, write a story where a seemingly supernatural forceplays havoc with the emotions of the characters.

1. Maximum length: 250 words.
2. The sub-theme is: condemnation.
3. The year is: 1938.
4. Within the story, you must use this text: to dance.

HAYWARD FAULT LINE (shake us up)
1. Maximum length: 450 words.
2. The sub-theme is: praise.
3. The setting is: Barcelona, Spain.
4. Within the story, you must use this bit of text: move along.

TAPAS (tiny morsels)
1. Maximum length: 250 words.
2. The sub-theme is: secrete.
3. Within the story, you must use this bit of text: imbued with.
4. Like seasoning, it is language that makes your story unique. Surprise us.

The Cairo Room contains all non-contest and writer's pool selections under 450 words. From the exotic to the post-modern to hypertext to first time writers, this room welcomes and nurtures the writer.

General Guidelines:
1. General submission guidelines apply to all stories.
2. When you send your submission by email, please include your name, postal address, and email address at the beginning of each story; paste your story into the body of your email and send it in plain text form.
3. If you send more than one story (three total), send each story as a separate email.
4. This is important. Put the category (FF, HF, DO, TA, CR,), the issue #, and your name on the subject line. (example: FF, 21, Mary Jane Argure) We use a filter for all email; therefore, if you do not put this information in the subject line, your email will automatically go into trash.
5. Do not send your story in HTML format or as an attachment. If you send your story in HTML format or as an attachment, it will discarded.

Fiction Workshops


Tuesday 10/06
Wednesday 10/07

We will not be workshopping on those days but will pick up on the next groups on Thursday and Friday. Any groups that have work due on those days will be expected to distribute the stories on Thursday and Friday instead

The assignments for 10/06 & 10/07 will be to come to class, have someone (designated student) distribute a roll sheet (date at top) and drop it in my mailbox in the liberal arts office after class.
After you meet, you are each to hand one other student a sheet of paper with the following things on it:

1. A way of moving
2. A name of a planet
3. three kinds of food
4. A character's name
5. one sentence to be used in their piece

Using those devices, I want you to go to a gallery or museum (you have all of class time to do this) and choose a piece to engage or incorporate into the writing you will do. I would like all of the pieces typed up and brought in to be read in class. This assignment is not only required but counts as your attendance for that day. The scene you write can, as always, be brand new or be a part of an existing story on which you are working. It must be a minimum of 300 words.

Contemporary Lit

H 10/01 Modernism continues. Discussion Love Song and opening of Sunday Morning, Wallace Stevens.

T 10/06 Use at least the hour and a half of class time to research art and artists (you can include musicians) and as a group, present a facet, figure or figures of the Modernist period. If they tie into any literary figures or texts, that works fine but is not a necessity.

H 10/08 Art & Modernism presentations

T 10/13 More Stevens, Modernism, discussion.
Response to one of the pieces we have not discussed in class. For this assignment, I would like for you to respond with a poem, short story, dramatic monologue, scene, letter or essay form to one of the pieces we have read for class or (with my approval) a piece from the time period that was not assigned. Your responses should be a minimum of five-hundred words. If you choose to respond in poetry (say formal verse) you will need to write the poem and then a two hundred word “process” piece that explains how the work influenced yours, what artistic decisions and deviations you made, formal strategies or the decision to work against form are all things that you might address. These assignments will be letter-graded and are expected to be typed, proofread and edited before they come to me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fiction Workshops, Botticelli Staff, Anyone Interested in Sending Work Out

A huge magazine that just started this "best starts" feature and is directing it towards new writers.
Some great prompts:
Art & Lit interactive journal:

addictive as baked-kale chips. (Seriously, try one and see if you can quit.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


T 09/22 Discussion Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes.
Be able to tell what Billie Holiday’s song Strange Fruit is about.

Homework: More Jazz Age authors (you’ve already read a little Hemingway). Lots of stuff to look at and read over. I want you to be able to discuss the time, Zelda’s art, as well as the texts we will be discussing in class.

Overview of era:

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald:

For fun:
Flapper Radio

H 09/24 Discussion Jazz Age.

Homework: Introduction to Modernism
Read: Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

P.S. Please note and begin planning for your assignment due on October 8 at the beginning of class.

T 09/29 Modernism
Homework: Wallace Stevens selections:

H 10/01 Modernism continues

T 10/06 TBA

H 10/08 Discussion and

Response to one of the pieces we have not discussed in class. For this assignment, I would like for you to respond with a poem, short story, dramatic monologue, scene, letter or essay form to one of the pieces we have read for class or (with my approval) a piece from the time period that was not assigned. Your responses should be a minimum of five-hundred words. If you choose to respond in poetry (say formal verse) you will need to write the poem and then a two hundred word “process” piece that explains how the work influenced yours, what artistic decisions and deviations you made, formal strategies or the decision to work against form are all things that you might address. These assignments will be letter-graded and are expected to be typed, proofread and edited before they come to me.

A Little Lighter Music

For some flapper-radio selections, you might have this playing as you do your Jazz Age reading.

Literature Class Song you need for question on syllabus for Thursday

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Safety of Objects Part 2

will run today in Kinney 213 at 2 p.m.
T-H students interested in continuing the video should let me know and we'll schedule a viewing time for next week (after I check to see that I can rent it from somewhere--which should be possible.) I thought maybe we'd bring snacks, beverages, popcorn? and finish up.

Have a wonderful weekend. It's good bicycling weather. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Select from these:

1. Write a piece with passages that are both disconnected and connected at once. (Interpret broadly.)

2. Choose three of the songs that you saw and implement some portion of their rules or scenarios into a story.

3. Take this trigger: The man rolled around on makeshift roller-skis, two planks of wood, four coasters, and some lovely champagne suede shoes nailed on to the appartus
or this one: In the middle of the floor a bed, around the bed, a crowd and every so often....

Write for two hundred words minimum from one of these take-off points.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Week of September 15-19 Literature Class

T 09/15 The Jazz Age The Harlem Renaissance.
For some perspective, a little bit of timeline:
Homework: Read all of the biography and poetry of Langston Hughes on this link (main text in center and right links, you don't need to read all of the prose pieces on the left, but they are very interesting.)
I have only one for the assigned reading:
to introduce you to The Harlem Renaissance.
Be ready to discuss his work, themes, formal strategies, etc.

H 09/17 Discussion Harlem Renaissance

Friday, September 11, 2009

An Idea of What an Art School Online Literary Magazine Can Look Like


Tues-Thurs. I had the impression that you did not have a letter for our Strange People author. If I was wrong and you did, let me know. Otherwise, I felt we had a pretty productive convo about that.

Since next week is interrupted by the Cage performance, let's work on writing exercises this week and preparing for your first workshops. This means that your first stories will be due with copies on Tuesday 09/22 & Wednesday 09/23 (Groups One). Obviously, I expect sufficient copies stapled and ready to be distributed at the start of class on those days. (Regardless of when I choose to have you hand them out, I would like them (the copies) and you (the authors) in seats, and on time on the day of handouts.

These first stories should be anywhere from three-five pages minimum. They can be a series of shorter pieces interconnected or not. They can be the start of a much longer piece.

Any additional questions, please feel free to ask. Have a wonderful weekend. -s

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

General notes:

Reading list for fiction workshop coming soon.

Complete syllabus for literature, too.

Please be sure to be on time with all writing and reading assignments as it gets very confusing to collect in class and over email. In the future, I really will accept no late assignments, so again, be mindful and if you're confused about when something is due or what to do, ask me. or in class.

Week of September 7-11 Literature Class

09/08 Discussion of Hemingway and dialogue. What is a white elephant? Why that title, etc.
Homework: Read "A Mark on the Wall" by Virginia Woolf.
& "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison.

09/10 Discussion of Woolf and/or Ellison. What is the conflict in these stories? How does it compare with what we have already read?

Week of September 7-11 WRITING FICTION

09/08 (T &H class)
09/09 (M & W)
Discussion of stories we read and distribution of "Strange People" for reading tonight.
We will begin workshopping a week from Thursday/Friday so Group One will have stories due, with copies by Thursday/Friday (09/15, 09/16) of next week. Group Two on Thursday/Friday. Group Three on the Tues/Thur of the following week, and so on.
The second class of this week will involve "workshopping" the story I hand out today in class. I will post guidelines for workshopping and you will treat this story (letter to author and all,) as if it is a workshop piece. We will have on "field trip activity" for the Thursday class (the John Cage event) and that might affect our schedule in the T-H class, I'll let you know how exactly.)

09/10 09/11
Workshop of "Strange People". Bring in annotated copies, letter to author and be prepared to discuss the story as if the author were a class member and in attendance. You will begin class by swapping your letters and discussing them as a group and voting on the "most helpful letter" and talking about why. Then we'll move into workshop.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Week of September 1-4 Literature Class

09/04/09 Friday

Discussion of stories.

Fiction Workshop In-Class Assignment plus Weekend Reading Homework

Ten Minute Spill

Write a ten passage piece. The story must include a proverb, adage, or familiar phrase such as: "she's a brick house, between the devil and the deep blue sea, one foot in the grave, at stitch in time saves nine, don't count your chickens before they hatch, the whole nine yard, a needle in a haystack, etc.) You must change the phrase in some way. You must also use five of the following words in your piece:

cliff needle voice whir blackberry cloud mother lick

The reading assignment for the weekend is:
How to Become a Writer by Lorrie Moore

The Last Unseen Window in the Last Unseen Car by Bruce Holland Rogers

Come to class prepared to thoroughly discuss both. Bring in comments, observations etc.
I would like each of you to be prepared to answer the questions:
which point-of-view are each of these written from? and which verb tense?
Consider how effective these choices were in illuminating the stories and be willing to discuss why they did or did not work for you.

For the T-H class, we will discuss this Tuesday.
For the W-F: Wednesday

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Optional creative writing assignment

(200 Words each)

1. Write about something repugnant as if it were beautiful.
2. Write about something beautiful as if it were ugly or disgusting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Three minute story prompt is here. (Plus, many examples.)
For yours, you must write 600 words or so, use at least one of each of the senses, avoid cliche.

The opening line for the NPR bit is "The nurse left work at five o'clock."

Remember that I will see you all on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Thursday and Friday will be independent study. (Meaning: you do your homework and we will not be meeting again until next week.)

Welcome Autumn 2009 Students!

This blog will be where the revised scheduling and anything you might need to know between sessions will be placed. Please email me on the ccad account as your ability to post comments here and communicate needs to be worked-out a bit yet.

Course Policy
Sophia Kartsonis Courses

Textbook: More on this soon. For now, I will post links.

will be crucial. We will be reading a lot and dealing with that reading in class with writing assignments and activities.
You will be afforded one absence for reasons I will not need to know. I do not excuse any absence after that first one and if you accrue two absences or more, I reserve the right to suggest that you drop the course.

Tardies: After two you have an absence.

Grades: You will be graded heavily on class participation and attendance. Your written work also will comprise a large percentage of your total grade. I expect lively discussions and real engagement with the topics. For those of you in my literature course or in workshops with a reading assignment please note: I hate to resort to pop quizzes, but if during discussion it becomes apparent that a few of us have done the reading and the rest are coasting, I will administer a quiz.

Assignments are due (copies, typed, all aspects of the requirements that constitute the assignment) on time at the beginning of class. Class time is not an opportunity to run around or ask me to make copies or to staple etc. We are now grown-ups. We are now grown-ups. Repeat as necessary.

YOU MUST BE HERE ON THE DAY OF YOUR HAND-OUTS, PRESENTATIONS or WORKSHOP. I cannot convey to you what it does to my mood and my soul when you are not. I usually console myself with a long session with the gradebook...

The bulk of your work in my courses cannot be made-up simply by "getting the assignment." You learn from discussion. What you miss is truly lost money and effort on my part and yours. Try to remember that you're here to self-edify and to receive a service.

Cell Phones: Please turn them off. Brain surgery can wait.

I am available to conference with you at any time throughout the course. Please contact me in class or through the email address and we can set a time to meet.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All Workshop Poems Distributed Today

were on time. All sestinas read in class, this morning, were as well.

Everyone else is late. Please be aware that without the distribution of your poems, you have put us one day behind for workshopping and that you are still expected to bring sufficient copies for your peers and for me for workshop.

Today's homework involves writing an English or an Italian sonnet (I went over them thoroughly in class but to all of you who missed you can self-educate by looking them up on google or in this case, wikipedia does a decent job of illustrating and distinguishing.)

Your peers were sent to a gallery or museum to select a piece of art upon which to base the sonnet. These are due tomorrow.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The other links I promised you: Richard Siken

Ilya Kaminsky

P.S. I received Taij Silverman's book yesterday--every expected deliciousness. I'll give you some of the elegies (the Little by Littles). For now, it's a weekend full of music, start listening...

(and I'll see you Tuesday).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Week Two

June 23, Tuesday : Reading of Silverman imitations. Intro to formal verse or Jenike's book (depending on which is available). In-Class Writing assignment based on "Refusing Sinatra" by Lesley Jenike p. 79 in Ghost of Fashion and/or "Those Winter Sundays"
by Robert Hayden.
Additional conditions for this piece include:
1.Every other line must be ten syllables. (The in-between lines can be any number with the condition that you must still consider the line as a unit of attention. )
2. Include a kind of fabric
3. a kind of stone
4. The use of three colors
5. The name of a street, landmark, or body of water.
6. Some comparison or reference to a historical or biblical story, or a fairytale, myth, or fable.
7. Include at least three fictions, lies or inventions.
Handing out of workshop poems.
Homework: Comment on the workshop poems. Remember to read them through once, no marking, second time through you make comments about how your reading changed through the poem now that you know it in its entirety. Third time you add any more things that work or don't work, additional suggestions or ways to revise or expand.

June 24 Wednesday: Read new poems aloud.
Workshop poems.
Homework: (Google and then) Read poems by Eliot Khalil Wilson, Tenaya Darlington, Arielle Greenberg, Mark Doty, Tim Early, Alan May, Mark Doty, Simone Muench

Imitate one of their poems or general gestures and include too,
at least two examples of slant or off-rhyme and internal rhyme.
Also, one example of assonance, consonance and alliteration.

June 25 Thursday: Complete workshops. Read homework poems aloud.
Introduction to formal verse.
Homeowork: Write a sestina.
Have next poems read to distribute for Workshop Two. Please include enough copies for yourself and others, ready to distribute at the BEGINNING of class.
Next poem: villanelle.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Homework and Week Two Agenda

For Thursday night's homework, I would like you to consider Taije Silverman's Poem to Keep What I Love and to write a list poem in imitation. Your poem should be in six sections, a minimum of five lines each. You might examine how Silverman employs anaphora, direct address, etc. I would like to see one use of a declarative statement with one modification to it.
Example: I want to tell you. This isn't unhappiness. It's the last good light of the permanent afternoon.

For Tuesday: Come in with the Silverman imitation and/or as/ your poems to be workshopped.
Make sure that your workshop poem or poems are typed and that you have made suffiicient copies for our class. (8 copies should do it.)

(Remember our new start time.)

Degrees of Gray in Yourburg

If you weren't in class and don't have the copy of Richard Hugo's poem: Degrees of Gray in Phillipsburg then google to remedy that first.

Okay, all Hugo-ed up? Then, write a poem about the town you know well. Use as much CONCRETE detail as possible and make it a minimum of fifteen lines. Think about your lines and line breaks as units of attention.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


To those of you in attendance on Day One of our class, thank you. To those of you who may have missed or need a reminder about the day's homework, see below.

1. Books: Rhyme's Reason by John Hollander. Ghost of Fashion by Lesley Jenike.
2. Homework: Write an epistolary poem to an abstraction. Use as many concrete images as you can, including at least one image from each of the five senses. The poem should be at least ten lines long. Use at least one metaphor and one simile. (When the moon hits your eye like an atomic pie...)


Have fun and see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Madness & Art Rocks the House

Your presentations were awesome. Thanks so much for your thoughtful, thorough and imaginative work. What a fun night! -s

Friday, April 24, 2009

Interesting Zelda link


We're in Kinney Hall, first floor, room 208 and will likely be here for another hour or so.


Sophia (& Dr. A.)

DR. ADLER INFORMATION--Madness & Lit. Madness & Art Students

We will meet tonight at 8 pm to allow for any delays.

We will meet tonight (Friday) at the visiting artists' residence across Washington, across the street from the Kinney Parking lot. It is a small brick building bordered by parking lots on three sides and a small road on the other. The blue and multi-colored mural is behind it.

If you arrive late, we might move to a classroom in Kinney--first floor, across from Liberal Arts office is likely. 

Tomorrow (Saturday) morning's plans involve a 9: 30 to 11: 00 am bagels and discussion meeting which is optional. If you are planning to attend, sign up tonight so that we don't wait around unless students are coming.

This class is the one psychiatric and medical aspect of the course. Dr. A is a wonderful speaker, very funny, easygoing and a writer in his own right. I expect you to attend tonight as it is a graded-event. I have spoken with the participants of the diversity meeting, but if you are not one of those, I strongly suggest you find a way to stop in, even for a portion of the meeting. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Syllabus Revised

H 03/19 Hannah Discussion
HAPPY SPRING BREAK No class 03/24,
T 03/31 Discussion Inflorescence. In-class writing “where remembers you”
H 04/02 Confessionalist Presentation

T 04/07 Completion of Presentations and some other stuff I'll bring in, including index cards for April 11. PLEASE BE SURE TO NOTE THE DAY THAT THOSE CARDS ARE TO COME BACK TO CLASS.

Homework: Prepare two “postcards” from the index cards I will distribute. These will be given away so if you’re terribly attached, keep that one and do another. DO NOT FORGET to bring these to class on Tuesday 04/11. They are part of our assignment that day.

H 04/09 Independent Study This week and next, plan to meet with your groups for the material you planned to teach as a group. I am allowing a block of days on the syllabus but if your group will need a whole class or more for say, a movie, I need to know that. Your group can decide what this and next Thurs. should look like in terms of planning and where to meet.
Additional Homework: There are some Diane Arbus photographs in the gallery (only a few) and there are many online. In anticipation. We will be discussing her work on Tues. and likely be watching a movie about here after that.

T 04/11 Epistolizing. In-Class writing assignment. Where we’re headed next: Work out schedule for your group-taught courses and materials. Sign up for time needed and materials to be presented, as well as homework assigned to be read before your groups teach. Dr. Adler’s visit and preparation towards that visit to be plugged into syllabus.

H 04/16 Independent Study
Homework: Read selections from Wilson’s work, prepare questions or comments for his Tuesday class visit.

M 04/20

Eliot Khalil Wilson reads his poems.
Canzani Auditorium 11:00-12:30

T 04/21 Class with Eliot Wilson.

H 04/23 TBA
Homework: Groups prepare to teach your materials starting Tuesday.

F 04/25 Dr. Adler Weekend. Lecture, movie.
S 04/26 Morning Meeting with the Doctor 9-12 (Sign up if you’re doing it.)

T 04/28 Presentations begin

H 04/30: 1.  Dickens Presentation.  2. Addiction Group.
Gift Day for Something Borrowed, Someone Blue assignment, proposal for your Something Borrowed... presentations

T 05/05  Sybil Group. Holy Mountain.

H 05/07 Something Borrowed Presentation due. 

T 05/12 Jazz Age & Cupcakes.