Search results for 'mfa'

Writing Wednesday: Reliving Those Awkward MFA Days

5 Mar

“This was a missed opportunity.”

Haha. Enjoy.

 

Life after the MFA

5 Jun

As thesis submission deadline approached, people began asking me what I was planning on doing after graduation.  Then they’d stop themselves, afraid they may have asked too painful of a question.  But it’s not!

In one of my last posts, I left off telling you about grabbing a cup of tea after turning my theses in.  What I didn’t tell you was that on my walk back to my office, while sipping that delicious tea, I made a phone call to biographer Paul Maher Jr.  Paul’s books are some of the most well respected in his categories, and they’ve been translated and sold around the globe.

Inspired by Laura Vanderkam’s List of 100 Dreams, I created my own a while back.  Become a scholar on the Beat Generation was on my list.  I’ve been studying the writers generally categorized as Beat for more than a decade now.  I did my MFA at The New School, where Jack Kerouac took writing classes, and where I connected with writers who had known Jack Kerouac.

Now, my dream of becoming a Beat scholar is being realized.  Paul and I are working on a book that tells the true story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.  The phone call to him on Monday was to discuss cover ideas.

I don’t have a big life-altering answer to the question of what I’m doing after the MFA.  Paul and I have been working on this book for a while now, and since I won’t be simultaneously working on a thesis anymore I’ll simply be refocusing my creative energies into the book.  It helps that I didn’t enter the program straight out of undergrad.  I’d already been working in book publishing, a career many of my classmates are hoping to enter, and so graduation isn’t a big scary unknown for me.  I’ll be continuing in my editorial role.  For me, life after the MFA is about continuing to follow my passions while also seizing new opportunities.

I’m extremely excited to say that my post-MFA plan is to co-author a book on Jack Kerouac.

Picture of Me at My MFA Thesis Reading

16 May


That’s me at the podium!  Thank you all for coming out to my reading at The New School last week!

Mark Your Calendar: MFA Thesis Reading

27 Apr

It’s been posted in the Appearances section for a while now, but in case you missed it I’ll be reading from my MFA thesis at The New School on Friday, May 11.  The readings begin at 5pm and will go til about … 9pm.  It’s going to be a long night, but you’ll get to hear some amazing creative nonfiction writers, fiction writers, and poets.  I’d recommend the event to agents and acquiring editors looking for fresh work.  This isn’t amateur’s night.  Most of these writers have been published in lit journals and have their names on the covers of books.

Here’s the list of writers who will be reading from their MFA thesis.  This list is in alphabetical order and does not reflect the actual order of readings, which has not yet been released.

Connie Aitcheson, Andrew Baranek, Lisa Marie Basile, Elissa Bassist, Maya Beerbower, Justine Bienkowski, Nora Boydston, Peter Burzynski, Maxine Case, Karisa Chappell, Sona Charaipotra, Johnny Chinnici, Nicole Cuffy, Mark Cullen, Andrew Cusick, Jennifer Doerr, Asa Drake, Keara Driscoll, Alex Dryden, Leda Eizenberg, Amy Gall, Britt Gambino, Sarah Gerard, Lenea Grace, Dulcy Gregory, Hanson Hadi, Althea Hanke-Hills, Amanda Harris, Sheryl Heefner, Rachael Marie Hurn, Elizabeth Karp-Evans, Zach Keach, Vivian Lee, Kristen Levingston, Claire MacLauchlan, Kevin Maus, Frederick McKindra, Ruthanne Minoru, Loren Moreno, James Mullaney, Stephanie Nikolopoulos, Stephanie Paterik, Xan Price, Jonathan Seneris, Jade Sharma, Nancy Shear, Justin Sherwood, Tim Small, Daniel Stein, Katrin Thompson, Alex Tunney, Markland Walker, Tamara Warren, Erin Emily Wheeler, Whitney Curry Wimbish, Elisabeth Yriart

The night before, the following people will be reading:

Pia Aliperti, Caela Carter, Bryant Cheng, Dhonielle Clayton, Jason Collins, Dustin Cosentino, Brandon Covey, Justin Davis, Ken Derry, Sarah Devlin, Amy Ewing, Alissa Fleck, Michelle Friedman, Jim Genia, Alyson Gerber, David Gibbs, Jon Gingerich, Alyssa Goldstein, Frances Gonzalez, Melanie Greenberg, Joanna Grim, Francesco Grisanzio, Patricia Guzman, Michael Halmshaw, Corey Haydu, Laura Jo Hess, Molly Horan, Ben Hurst, Amber Hyppolite, Kevin Joinville, Danielle Kaniper, Justin Langley, Winston Len, Madelyn Mahon, Brookes Moody, Ansley Moon, Jane Moon, Christian Ochoa, Mani Parchman, Riddhi Parekh, Nathalia Perozo, Theodore Riquelme, Edwin Rivera, Cristina Sciarra, Mary Thompson, Crissy Van Meter, Jessica Verdi

See!  I told you.  Amazing writers all around.  I’m honored to have worked alongside them.  I look forward to seeing our books side-by-side in bookstores around the globe.

***

Update!  A couple people have asked what time I’m reading.  I won’t know until I get there.  But there will be amazingly talented writers to listen to the whole night.  Also, it’s free and there will be beverages and snacks.  It will be held at Theresa Lang Center, 55 West 12th Street, 2nd Floor.

The after party will be at Fiddlestick’s Pub & Grill at 56 Greenwich Ave.

MFAism: Hosting Summer Writing Workshop

22 Jun

Even though the MFA writing program is officially on summer break — whoo-hoo! — some of us from the creative-nonfiction writing workshop decided we were having so much fun (or something like that) that wanted to keep on meeting.  Last Tuesday we had our first informal workshop.  It was so nice to catch up with everyone and to chat about our writing.

As I’ve alluded, everyone in my classes always recommends I read David Sedaris when they find out I write about growing up Greek American.  I do get a kick out of David Sedaris, but it’s his sister Amy Sedaris who captured my heart with her book I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. There’s just something about us Greek women — we love hosting and feeding people.  I barely had anyone over during the semester so I was super-excited to volunteer hosting the writing workshop in my apartment.

Since my classmates have been giving me feedback all semester on the Greek American memoir I’m writing — and since I’m the Queen of Theme Parties — I of course prepared Greek meze for them.  I served feta cheese (imported from Greece!  I’m stimulating the Greek economy!), sliced tomatoes with sea salt, pita, red pepper & eggplant dip, dried apricots, and almonds.  The other writers graciously brought delicious homemade (!) scones and sumptuous red wine.  I pretty much gorged!

We had a great conversation about nonfiction vs. fiction writing and talked about the role of blogging in our writing.  Then we spent some time critiquing each other’s works.  I got helpful feedback on a short reflection I’d written about my experience at the 2011 Gabby Awards.  I really enjoyed reading their new pieces too.  Everyone has such interesting stories to tell!

Now I’ve got to get to work on the next chapter to submit!

In the meantime, if anyone has any tips on how to run a writing workshop, please post in the comments section.

The New School Creative Writing MFA Mentions Me in “Newsletter 18—Spring 2011”

11 Feb

The New School’s Creative Writing MFA program mentioned me in “Newsletter 18—Spring 2011.”  Special thanks to the “office heroes” for mentioning me alongside David H. Lippman (MFA ’01), William Rockwell (MFA ’11), and Laura Jo Hess (MFA ’12).

The newsletter also mentioned that Yew Leong (MFA ’07) launched a new literary magazine called Asymptote.  The first issue features such esteemed writers as Mary Gaitskill, Yoram Kaniuk, and Gleb Shulpyakov.  Asymptote is currently accepting submissions (March 15 deadline) on the theme of an “encounter between languages.”

Writing Wednesday: Making the Most Out of My Writing MFA, Spring 2011 Semester

19 Jan

Winter break’s coming to a close, and I’m getting ready to enter my second semester of the MFA program.  I really want to get the most I can out of this semester.  Unfortunately, it seems like knowing how to get the most out of anything doesn’t usually happen until after the fact, when it’s too late, so I’ve compiled a list of tips from other writers.

While a lot of articles seem to suggest MFA students go into debt for the sake of writing, I’ve chosen to work full time in addition to doing the MFA full time.  I’m the type of person that thrives under deadlines, and if I weren’t working that wouldn’t mean that I was spending eight hours a day writing.  For me, it’s better to carve out special moments for writing.  That could mean during my lunch hour or on a night I don’t have class.  Often, it means most of Sunday.  I think, though, the greater point here is to make a practice out of writing.  Don’t keep putting it off.  Schedule specific times to write and don’t let other events (or Burn Notice–btw, check out author Tod Golderg’s blog) get in the way.

The tip in these articles about submitting struck home for me.  While I’ve always been pretty good at finding places to publish my work online, I haven’t always been as selective as I should.  One of my goals for this upcoming semester is to submit to a literary magazine.

Finding a mentor is probably the most important goal of mine for this semester.  Last semester’s workshops gave me valuable feedback that I’ve been able to work into my rewrite, but I could use some one-on-one time to really talk through some of the issues in my work.  I need to talk with someone who understands the type of writing I do and has suggestions for ways to improve my writing and where I should be publishing.

Those are my top MFA-related goals for the semester.  What are your writing goals for winter 2011?

I’m September’s Featured Reader at the Forest Hills Library

15 Aug

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I will be the featured reader at the Open Mic and Reading Series at the Forest Hills Library in Queens (108-19 71 Avenue, Queens, NYC) on September 26, 2019, at 6:30pm.

Here’s a bit about the series:

Open Mic is for all performers of any genre to take the mic for four minutes. Spectators are also welcome. Featured readers are as follows: September: Stephanie Nikolopoulos, October: Lancelot Schaubert, November: Julia Knobloch

I am thrilled! I love, love, love libraries. I spent a big part of my childhood at the Closter Public Library, where every summer I joyously, vigorously participated in the library’s reading challenge. My family also spent a lots of Sundays at the Englewood Public Library. After I left New Jersey, I chose my first apartment in New York based partly on the fact that it was on the same block at one of the branches of the New York Public Library.

Libraries have exposed me to books I would’ve never discovered otherwise. They’ve afforded me opportunities to read more books than I could afford to buy. They’ve been a fundamental source of research for the books I’ve written and the ones I’m writing. They’ve also been a quiet place to write. A place of comfort. A place of inspiration.

I had the opportunity to attend the Open Mic and Reading Series at the Forest Hills branch of the Queens Public Library a few months ago when fellow New School MFA alum Gabriel Don was the guest reader. I’m so honored that meditative poet-librarian and talk show host Vijay R. Nathan has invited me to read.

Hope to see you there!

In the comments, let me know your favorite thing about libraries.

 

My Q&A with Novelist Ellen Meeropol

10 Jul

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I’m so excited to have interviewed Ellen Meeropol, author of House Arrest, On Hurricane Island, and Kinship of Clover for the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. I’m fascinated by the questions her novels pose about where the government should draw the line between keeping our nation safe and terrorizing our own citizens as well as how far is too far when it comes to activism.

Here’s the promotional copy for On Hurricane Island:

As a major hurricane threatens the northeast, math professor Gandalf Cohen is abducted by federal agents and flown to a secret interrogation center off the coast of Maine. Austin Coombs, a young local resident, is a newly hired civilian guard assigned to the detention center. Henry Ames, a man of personal secrets, is the FBI special agent in charge of Gandalf’s case and doubts the professor’s terrorist involvement; Tobias, his second-in-command, disagrees, preferring violent interrogation. As the hurricane slams the shore, conflict detonates and each character must choose a side if they’re to survive the storm.

Told over the five days approaching the anniversary of 9/11, by varying voices on both extremes of the political divide, On Hurricane Island is both a fast-paced political thriller and a literary examination of the sociopolitical storm facing our society. How far should government go in the name of protecting our national security? What happens when governmental powers of surveillance and extra-legal interrogation are expanded? How free are we?

Ellen Meeropol has worked as a daycare teacher and women’s reproductive health counselor before becoming a nurse practitioner. It was in her twenty-four years working at a children’s hospital that she began authoring and co-authoring articles and book chapters focused on pediatric issues and latex allergy. The nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau honored her for excellence in nursing journalism, and she received the Ruth A. Smith Writing Award for excellence in writing in the profession of nursing. She went on to receive the Chair’s Excellence Award from the Spina Bifida Association of America for her advocacy around latex allergy and spina bifida. In 2000, Meeropol decided to pursue a life of letters in earnest and earned her MFA from the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine. She didn’t leave behind her advocacy though: her novel Kinship of Clover involves a character who has spina bifida.

You can read my conversation with Ellen Meeropol here.

For more Q&As with the Hobart Festival of Women Writers, visit the Festival blog.

Register for the wonderful weekend of writing and community in the Catskills, and sign up for workshops by Ellen, me, and others here.

How much power should the government have to keep our country safe–what if it means less privacy and less due process? What cause would you break the law for? Let me know in the comments below.

My Q&A with Poet Marilyn McCabe

3 Jul

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I had the great honor of interviewing poet Marilyn McCabe, who will be teaching a writing workshop this September at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. We talked about MFAs, her video-poems, and the Adirondacks.

Marilyn McCabe is a poet with a penchant for video-poems, an essayist, a fiction writer, and a singer of jazz and classical music. A Room of Her Own Foundation awarded her poem On Hearing the Call to Prayer Over the Marcellus Shale on Easter Morning the Orlando Prize in the autumn of 2012, and Los Angeles Review published it. Judge Gray Jacobik selected her poetry book Perpetual Motion for publication for the Hilary Tham Capital Collection by The Word Works in 2012. The same publisher went on to publish her second full-length collection of poems, Glass Factory, in 2016. She blogs at https://marilynonaroll.wordpress.com.

Check out the interview here.

Read more of my interviews with guest authors at Hobart Festival of Women Writers here.

Register for the Festival here, and don’t forget to sign up for my writing workshop Wild Women on the Road!

What are your thoughts on MFAs? Are they great for connecting with authors, mentors, and agents … or not worth the hefty price tag?

Here are a few of my posts on MFAs:::