Tag Archives: Calvin College

My Year in Review: 2012

4 Jan

What a full year 2012 was! Here’s a quick little recap:::


In January I announced that the rumors were true. But it took the full year for it to finally look like this.


In February I joined Pinterest to discover how it may help me as a writer and have been happily pinning ever since.


In March my personal essay was included in the book Creating Space.


In April I was one of the editors representing the Burnside Writers Collective at the Festival of Faith & Writing. It was so special to get to catch up with the other editors and writers, whom I just adore. I also had the opportunity to teach a writing workshop while I was there.



Image via On the Road with Bob Holman / Rattapallax

In April I also worked to create awareness about what we lose when we lose a language. My interview with poet Bob Holman appeared in BOMBlog.

In May I received my MFA in creative nonfiction from The New School. I had a fantastic thesis advisor and a beloved peer group, who challenged me to dig deeper in my memoir about growing up Greek American. After I read a snippet at our thesis reading, an instructor I’d never even had came up to tell me how much he liked my work!


Image via The Human Tower / Rattapallax

In June I witnessed the world record being broken for the tallest castell on a rooftop.


In July I heard Amber Tamblyn read for The Paris Review at the Strand. Afterwards we somehow ended up on the elevator together, and I didn’t say anything to her. I never know in those situations if it’s polite to say something like “nice reading” or if the person just wants her privacy. I know she’s involved in the Beat literature community, though, so I should’ve probably talked to her about that.


Image via The Millions

In August an article I wrote about a funny incident I had related to Jack Kerouac sparked a fiery debate and went viral, getting mentioned everywhere from The New Yorker to The Paris Review.


Photo via RA Araya

In September I had one of the most surreal moments of my life–reading with David Amram. I got to hear him perform again, this time as an enthralled audience member, in December.


Photo via RA Araya

That month I also read for poet Miguel Algarin‘s birthday bash.


I also road tripped through northern and central California, visiting Cannery Row, City Lights Bookshop, The Beat Museum, and attending my college friend’s wedding.


In October Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and I spent a lot of time in bed.


In November I failed miserably at NaNoWriMo, but I had a lot of fun creating this ever-evolving Pinterest board for the book I never wrote.

I also gave a reading that got upstaged by a wedding proposal.


In December there was a flurry of Jack Kerouac-related activities to promote the film adaptation of On the Road, and I got to see author Ann Charters and film director Walter Salles in person at IFC. I also got to take a writing class with screenwriter Jose Rivera at 3rd Ward.

I also went out to Lowell and got to meet Jack Kerouac’s friend and pallbearer Billy Koumantzelis.


What were the highlights of 2012 for you?


Church Hopping at the Festival of Faith & Writing: Calvin College Chapel

17 Apr

I’m getting excited for the Festival of Faith & Writing!!  I’m so looking forward to catching up with all my friends from the Burnside Writers Collective, some of whom I haven’t seen in years and others whom I’ve never met before.  We’ll have a booth so please do stop by and say hello!  I’m the visual arts editor for Burnside, and I’m always looking for new writers and cool artists whose work we can feature on the site.  If you’re interested, let’s chat at the Festival.

If you’re going — or just want to live vicariously through this blog — you might be interested in the Church Hopping column I wrote up after our last trip to the Festival.  Some of the panels and Q&As are held in the Pizza Hut Chapel, as Diane called it.



Burnside commentary:

Kim Gottschild:  “I liked the chapel’s architecture. What I found particularly interesting was the pergola type structure that lined the inside of the sanctuary like an overhang. Together with the beautiful view of the budding trees, it made me feel like I was sitting in a garden setting, the outside having been brought in. I also loved the light feel of the wooden interior. Overall, the interior atmosphere felt natural, light and airy, and I felt like I could breathe. And Mary Karr’s interview only enhanced that, as listening to her always gives me permission to be human.”

Penny Carothers: “I liked the chapel, too. I liked the inclusive feel, the feeling of being surrounded by others, not just staring at the dais. I also appreciated how the dais was almost in the center of the room. I liked how light it was.”

Cary Campbell Umhau:  “Well, I hate to be a naysayer but I found it cold. I wanted a cozy corner, not an exposed openness. I’m sure that says something antisocial and awful about me, but I wanted to flee!  I have to say I was swayed a little by Diane saying that it’s sometimes referred to as the Pizza Hut Chapel (Diane, am I misquoting you?).  Is it bizarre that I preferred the ‘Undercroft’ of cinderblock (and the bathrooms were nearby too; handy with all the coffee I was downing), and I loved hearing Lisa Samson down there.”

Diane Nienhuis:  “Cary, you quoted correctly!”


You can read the rest of Church Hopping: Calvin College Chapel here.

BWC Headed to FFW FTW (That’s an Inside Joke)

23 Jan

Burnside Writers Collective is headed back to the Festival of Faith and Writing!

Our lovely associate editor Kim Gottschild posted all about it on Burnside, highlighting why you should go:

  • Attend a writing workshop led by our very own Arts Editor, Stephanie Nikolopoulos!
  • Hear our very own Susan Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations with God, speak!
  • Meet our Deputy Editor, John Pattison, who will be there hosting a breakout session on book reviewing with ERB Editor-in-Chief, Chris Smith!
  • Hear plenary speaker, author Jonathan Safran Foer and watch BWC Editor-in-Chief Jordan Green become his best friend!  JK.
  • Meet other fantastic Burnsiders like Social Justice Editor Penny Carothers, Diane Nienhuis, Associate Editor Sara Sterley, Betsy Zabel, and me!
  • Pick up some swag, like a bookmark or something!

So sweet of her to mention me by name. Check back on this blog soon for more information on my workshop.

I truly love working with Burnside and getting to meet all the people I work with but don’t usually get to see.  I have the privilege of working with some of the most talented and funny and sincere people.  I had such a blast with them last time.

It’s also really fun meeting readers.  Hope you’ll consider joining us!  Drop me a line in the comments if you plan on being there and make sure to stop by our table to say hi!

As if meeting the Burnside staff isn’t enough, Ruben Martinez, Gary Schmidt, Marilynne Robinson, Kathryn Erskine, Shane Claiborne, and many more award-winning, high-profile authors will be there.