Tag Archive for Writing at Wesleyan

Writing at Wesleyan Announces Spring Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry

Writing at Wesleyan announces the Spring 2015 Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry.

Writer/authors in the Spring 2015 series include Ron Padgett on Feb. 25, Millett Fellow Caryl Phillips on March 4, Sadia Shepard on March 25, Rowan Ricardo Phillips on April 1 and Ruth Ozeki on April 8.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information on these talks visit the Writing at Wesleyan website.

Support for this series is provided by Writing at Wesleyan, the English Department, the Annie Sonnenblick Fund, the Joan Jakobson Fund, the Jacob Julien Fund, the Millett Writing Fellow Fund, the Center for the Arts, and the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.

The 2014/2015 Series organizers include Lisa Cohen, associate professor of English; Elizabeth Willis, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing; Amy Bloom, the Kim-Frank Family University Writer-in-Residence; and Anne Greene, director of Writing Programs.

Bloom’s Novel Lucky Us on Success, Luck, Big Dreams, Scandals

New book by Amy Bloom.

New book by Amy Bloom.

Amy Bloom, the Distinguished University Writer-in-Residence and director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing, is the author of a novel, Lucky Us, published in July 2014 by Random House.

Disappointed by their families, Iris, a hopeful star and Eva the sidekick, journey through 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the pair across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, and to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island.

With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine though a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Lucky Us is a resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, the creation of a family, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life, conventional and otherwise.

In celebration of her book release, Bloom will be speaking Sept. 2 at the Society Club in London, and Sept. 3 at Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

Bloom’s stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, Thee New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate and Salon, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award.

90 Writers Participate in the Wesleyan Writers Conference

Both experienced writers and new writers participated in the 58th Annual Wesleyan Writers Conference June 11-15.

About 90 writers attended, including Wesleyan students enrolled in Summer Session courses.

Manuscript consultations and publishing advice were key parts of the program. Participants attended daily seminars in the novel, short story, poetry, and nonfiction (including memoir and literary journalism), and the program also included guest speakers, readings, workshops, panel discussions and talks with editors and agents.

Faculty and speakers at this year’s conference included award-winning fiction writer Amy Bloom ’75, author of the new novel Lucky Us; Roxana Robinson, short story writer and author of the new novel Sparta; Salvatore Scibona, author of The End, a finalist for the National Book Award; poet Michael Dumanis; and nonfiction writers/ journalists Lis Harris of Columbia’s School of the Arts, and William Finnegan of The New Yorker, whose recent coverage of Mexico received the Overseas Press Club Award for the best coverage of Latin America in any mediumThe group of editors and agents include alumni Vicky Bijur  Johnny Temple ’88, founder and editor of Akashic Books. View the full list of faculty, including bios, online here.

View photos of the event below (Photos by Olivia Drake):

Writing faculty Amy Bloom made remarks during the Writing Conference Introduction of Faculty and Fellows, June 12 in Mink Dining Hall.

Writing faculty Amy Bloom made remarks during the Writing Conference Introduction of Faculty and Fellows, June 12 in Mink Dining Hall.

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More than 90 writers participated in the Writers Conference.

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Participants attended daily seminars in the novel, short story, poetry and nonfiction writing.

Registration Open for Wesleyan Writers Conference

Both experienced writers and new writers are welcome to participate in the Wesleyan Writers Conference this June.  Special topics include selling your book and writing for film, science and medicine and social issues.

Both experienced writers and new writers are welcome to participate in the Wesleyan Writers Conference this June. Special topics include selling your book and writing for film, science and medicine and social issues. Manuscript consultations and publishing advice are key parts of the program.

Registration is now open for the 58th annual Wesleyan Writers Conference, one of the nation’s leading programs, to be held on campus June 11-15. Both experienced writers and new writers are welcome. This is a time to start a new project or develop your current work with the help of the conference’s faculty, distinguished writers who work closely with participants. Manuscript consultations and publishing advice are key parts of the program. Participants may attend daily seminars in the novel, short story, poetry, and nonfiction (including memoir and literary journalism), and the program also includes guest speakers, readings, workshops, panel discussions and talks with editors and agents. Special topics include writing for film, writing about science and medicine, writing about social issues and how to sell your book.

“Writing is often lonely work,” said Anne Greene, director of the Wesleyan Writers Conference, director of Writing Programs. “It can be transforming to spend a few days outside of your writing room talking to people who share your interests. Former participants say they’re still in close touch with friends and writing colleagues they met at the conference, and they find these connections invaluable.”

Author/Reporter McMillan is Wesleyan’s 2014 Koeppel Fellow

Tracie McMillan, the Koeppel Journalism Fellow at the Shapiro Writing Center, is teaching the upper-level seminar "Topics in Journalism: Writing and Arguing About Inequality: How to Make Your Case."

Tracie McMillan, the Koeppel Journalism Fellow at the Shapiro Writing Center, is teaching the upper-level seminar “Topics in Journalism: Writing and Arguing About Inequality: How to Make Your Case.”

(Story contributed by Emma Davis ’17. The full interview appears in the Feb. 21 issue of The Wesleyan Argus)

Tracie McMillan is Wesleyan’s Koeppel Journalism Fellow and author of The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table, a New York Times Bestseller. Her recent work appears in Best Food Writing 2013 and she has received a James Beard Award, the Sidney Hillman Prize, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism and other national awards for her writing about food, consumers’s choices and other social issues.

Q: How did you become a reporter?

A: I became a reporter after interning at the Village Voice under Wayne Barrett. Wayne was the City Politics investigative reporter at the Voice for around 40 years; he left the Voice a couple of years ago. Every semester, he had a cadre of interns who would come in and help him do his work, and that was one of the internships I had as an undergraduate. I did well there, and got on well with Wayne, and that led me into doing reporting work.

When I took that internship, I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to be a journalist. I knew that I wanted to do something with writing, and I had a vague idea that I would work at a magazine, but I hadn’t really thought through the specifics of that. And certainly at the time, I think I was more interested in national politics, and Wayne’s work was very local. But I lucked into getting paired with him at the Voice, and that put me on that path.

Q: What brought you to Wesleyan?

A:  [Director of Writing Programs] Anne Greene brought me to Wesleyan. I have a little bit of a relationship with Wesleyan. In 2006, I got a Davidoff scholarship to attend the Wesleyan Writers Conference. That was when I had just gone freelance. I had taken some time off, and I had taken basically half my life savings and gone traveling for six months. Because I had been working since I was 14, and I had this epiphany—I was about 29 at the time—that I had always been working, and I had never stopped to figure out where I wanted to go; I just went where it seemed like I could go… I didn’t really know if the work I was doing as a journalist was what I really wanted to dedicate myself to, or if maybe there was something else I wanted to be doing. And I didn’t really know myself well enough to make that call, and I realized that I was at a point in my life where I didn’t have anything tying me to any one place.

And once I had enough time to really clear my head, I kept coming back to writing. I didn’t just want to write about me, myself, and I; I wanted to write about the world.

Poets, Novelists Speak at Fall Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry

This fall, join novelists, poets, editors, writers and a physician for the Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry. The series is presented by Writing at Wesleyan and sponsored by the Center for the Arts.

All events are free and open to the public.

The series kicked off Sept. 11 with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa. Komunyakaa is author of 20 books of poetry. He received a bronze star for his service as a journalist in the Vietnam War and is a professor and senior distinguished poet in the graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University.

Salvatore Scibona

Salvatore Scibona

Salvatore Scibona and Tonya Foster will speak at 8 p.m. Sept. 25 in Russell House. Scibona’s novel, The End, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Young Lion’s Fiction Award from the New York Public Library. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and was among The New Yorker’s list of “20 Under 40” writers to watch. He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and he is a visiting writer in the English Department. Foster’s first collection of poetry, A Swarm of Bees in High Court, is out this fall from Belladonna/Futurepoem Books. She is co-editor of Third Mind: Creative Writing Through Visual Art. The recipient of a Ford Foundation Fellowship and a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, she is an associate at the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College and is currently a visiting writer in Wesleyan’s English Department.

Ben Lerner will speak at 8 p.m. Oct. 9 in Russell House. Lerner is the author of three books of poetry: The Lichtenberg Figures (2004), Angle of Yaw (2006), and Mean Free Path (2010). His first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, won The Believer Book Award and was widely regarded as one of the best books of 2011. His second novel is forthcoming from Faber/FSG. Recent prose can be found in Art in America, The New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Paris Review. He is a 2013-14 Guggenheim Fellow.

Poet/Memoirist, Novelist/Screenwriter to Lead Writing Workshops for Students

For young writers, the prospect of getting their work in front of a master (whether a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a prominent poet or a famous byline) can be both exciting and terrifying.

Student scribes at Wesleyan will have that opportunity this academic year as two masters of the craft come to campus to conduct a series of noncredit workshops at the Shapiro Creative Writing Center. Poet and memoirist Mark Doty and novelist and screenwriter Michael Cunningham will each do a series of three, two-and-a-half-hour master classes for about a dozen students. Doty’s up first in the fall semester and Cunningham will be on campus in the spring.

“They’re both exceptional writers, and this is a great opportunity for students,” said Amy Bloom ’75, director of the Shapiro Writing Center. “Having your work read and getting that type of direction is absolutely critical (for those learning the craft).”

Frank ’78, P’12 Funds Writing Certificate at Wesleyan

From left, Diann Kim, Anne Greene, John Frank, Hannah Frank, Peter Frank '12 and Nat Greene.

From left, Diann Kim P’12; Wesleyan’s Anne Greene; John Frank ’78, P’12; Hannah Frank; Peter Frank ’12; and Wesleyan’s Nat Greene gather during Peter’s 2012 graduation. John and Diann made a recent gift to support Writing at Wesleyan’s Writing Certificate.

John Frank ’78, P ’12 believes in the power of a well-written sentence. So much so, he will tell you, that knowing how to write can make the difference between success and failure in life. He will also tell you that he learned to write, and write well, at Wesleyan.

To Frank, a lawyer and investor in California, and his wife Diann Kim P’12, it was critical to ensure continued success for Wesleyan’s writing instruction, especially the Writing Certificate launched and overseen by his sister, Anne Greene. Their gift of more than $2 million will fund Writing at Wesleyan’s Writing Certificate, which allows students from any major to earn the equivalent of a minor in writing.

“Now that I look back with a 35-year perspective… the thing that I think equipped me was how much writing I had to do at Wesleyan,” Frank said. “You can’t really write well without thinking well. Wesleyan can do nothing better than to help its kids write.”

The former history major, who said his undergraduate prose got better through stringent editing by faculty, wanted the Kim-Frank gift to support expository writing in particular.

“There’s typically more support for creative writing,

Students Share Creative Writings Based on Wesleyan’s Collections

Special Collections & Archives hosted “A Reading of Documentary Nonfiction and Poetry” on May 13. Each student in the “Creative Criticism and Inquiry: Writing Documentary Nonfiction and Poetry” course chose an archival collection from the holdings of Special Collections & Archives and wrote a creative piece inspired by the collection. The class was taught by Teagle Fellow Kate Thorpe.

“The results are wonderful examples of thinking outside the box of traditional archival research,” said Suzy Taraba, director of Special Collections & Archives. “The collections chosen range from Civil War letters to the Hewlett Diversity Archive.”

A selection of the archival materials were on display at the reading.

(Photos by Bill Tyner ’13)

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Katherine Gilchrist ’13

Louis Menand Delivers Annual Sonnenblick Lecture

Writer/journalist Louis Menand delivered the annual Annie Sonnenblick lecture Feb. 27 in Russell House. His talk was part of the Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry.

Writer/journalist Louis Menand delivered the annual Annie Sonnenblick Lecture Feb. 27 in Russell House. His talk was part of the Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry. Menand focused his talk on the links between French cinema and American movies, particularly the relationship of the French New Wave to American films including “Bonnie and Clyde.”

Bloom ’75 Writes a New Children’s Book

Amy Bloom ’75

Acclaimed writer Amy Bloom ’75, known for her award-winning fiction (Away, Where the God of Love Hangs Out) and nonfiction, has written her first children’s book, Little Sweet Potato (HarperCollins), to be released August 21. The book is published under the name Amy Beth Bloom, with illustrations by Noah Z. Jones. Bloom is writer-in-residence at Wesleyan.

In the book, Little Sweet Potato rolls away from his patch and is forced to search for a new home. He stumbles upon some very mean plants on his journey and begins to wonder if maybe he is too lumpy and bumpy to belong anywhere.

Tammy La Gorce in The New York Times recently talked to Bloom about writing for a new audience. The character of Little Sweet Potato grew out of stories she told her two daughters and her grandchild.

LaGorce writes: “A sense of humor — some critics have called it dark — courses through Ms. Bloom’s work. Her work as a psychotherapist, which she continued through 2002, may have helped inform it. But ‘I think of myself as cheerful and realistic,’ not dark, she said.

Book by Amy Bloom ’75

“A favorite philosophy — hope for the best and prepare for the worst — is very much in Little Sweet Potato,’ she said. ‘One always wants to say to children, ‘It will be fine, everyone will be nice.’ But it’s not always fine or nice. And still it can be O.K. I wanted to write about that a little,’ Ms. Bloom said.”

In the Times article, Bloom mentions the possibility of writing sequels to this book and also talks about the new novel she is working on, It Is Good We Are Dreaming. She notes that it takes much longer to finish a novel than a children’s book.