Tag Archives: place

My Q&A with Ifeona Fulani

4 Sep

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Ifeona Fulani is the author of the novel Seasons of Dust, which follows a Jamaican immigrant family over the course of five decades, beginning in 1950, as well as the more recent short story collection Ten Days in Jamaica. She also edited the nonfiction work Archipelagos of Sound: Transnational Caribbeanites, Women and Music. She is the recipient of the Mitchener Fellowship – University of Miami, New York Times Creative Writing Fellowship, Burke-Marshall Fellowship – NYU, and McCracken Fellowship – NYU. Ifeona Fulani is a Clinical Professor in the Liberal Studies department at New York University. She has taught in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the Gallatin School, the College of Arts and Science, as well as, the Eugene Lang School, The New School.

At the Festival of Women Writers this September 6-8, Ifeona Fulani will be teaching the writing workshop NOTHING HAPPENS NOWHERE: Grounding Your Story in Place. Here’s a description:

In this workshop we will explore one of the most fundamental challenges facing a writer of fiction, that of setting your story in a place in which your characters and their actions can unfold meaningfully.

Character is a product of dynamic interaction with place, whether that place is a modern city, a medieval castle or a space station on an alien planet. No matter where, how can setting support a character’s desires and actions? How will it frustrate them and generate conflict?

We will consider these and other questions relating to using setting and place in ways that work with or against your character to develop your story and reveal its ultimate meaning.

You can register for her workshop and mine, Wild Women on the Road, here.

You can read my interview with Ifeona Fulani here.

Festival of Women Writers Shines Spotlight on Me

26 Aug

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The Festival of Women Writers in Hobart, New York, recently featured me in their newsletter! You can read it in full here.

I can’t wait for to get up to this cute little town of books up in the Catskills. It’s such an honor to be included in this year’s festival. The line-up is spectacular:

I’ll be reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful as part of the Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writer opening readings on Friday, September 5th at 3:30pm. Then on Saturday, bright and early at 9:30am I’ll be teaching my popular workshop The Role of Place for Reader and Writer. Workshop participants will look at several examples of great setting from literature and then do writing exercises to explore unique ways to imbue the story with a sense of place. You can register here.

Find out more on the Hobart Festival of Women Writers website.

Check out the blog.

Help support women writers by contributing to this event.

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For my other upcoming events, check out my appearances page. If you’re interested in booking me for a reading or hiring me to lead a writing workshop, you can contact me at snikolop {@} alumna.scrippscollege.edu.

Quotes about Place

20 Apr

Some places are so iconic. I think this may be one of them.

 

Every story involves place, whether real, imagined, or seemingly absent.  Place isn’t just a physical location, it’s a feeling, a memory, a metaphor, a symbol.

My writing has always centered around place.  My memoir is a complicated look at what home means.  It’s about how even for people who live in the same house together home can mean different things — can even be different places.  And sometimes, oftentimes, the place you call home changes.  It’s about the physicality of a house, the emotions of a home, the culture of a country.

Meanwhile, the book I’m coauthoring on Jack Kerouac is also about place in its own way.  It’s about exploring, about living, about identity.  It shows that place itself can become a character and plot device.

I’m teaching on place this weekend at the Festival of Faith and Writing, and I think one of the most valuable ways to learn is to read how other writers have talked about place.  Here are some literary quotes about place.  Feel free to share your favorite quotes about place in the comments section.

 

How hard it is to escape from places.  However carefully one goes they hold you – you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences – like rags and shreds of your very life.

~Katherine Mansfield

But I do like churches.  The way it feels inside.  It feels good when you just sit there, like you’re in a forest and everything’s really quiet, expect there’s still this sound you can’t hear.

~Tim O’Brien

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

~Joan Didion

Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels.

~Nikos Kazantzakis

Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil.  My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.

~Nathaniel Hawthorne

This is the most beautiful place on Earth.  There are many such places.  Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.

~Edward Abbey

The landscape affects the human psyche – the soul, the body and the innermost contemplations – like music. Every time you feel nature deeper you resonate better with her, finding new elements of balance and freedom…

~Nikos Kazantzakis

Michigan Writers

19 Apr

Do you think writers are defined by where they were born?  Where they live?  By whether or not they’ve moved?  By how much they’ve traveled?

Yesterday, I wrote about how at the Faith & Writing Festival Circle we’ll be discussing is the idea of how where you write can actually affect your writing.  Today, I’m bringing you another little preview.  This time on writers from Michigan.

I’ve only been to Michigan the one other time I was at the Festival of Faith & Writing, and from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty unique.  It’s a rather large and diverse state.  Michigan is definitely Midwest — so different from where I grew up on the East Coast.  Yet each city and town seems to have its own culture and identity.  I think if two people from Michigan meet they’d probably judge each other based on where they live.

Yet, Michigan seems integral to America’s history as a whole because of the car industry in Detroit and the way cars began to define a certain type of American identity.

Below is a list of Michigan writers.

 

Books Set in Michigan or Written by Michigan Authors

  • Mitch Albom, born in New Jersey and now lives in Detroit, is the author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.
  • John Malcolm Brinnin, raised in Detroit, is the poet credited with bringing Dylan Thomas to the US.
  • Bruce Campbell, born in Royal Oak (MI), wrote a New York Times bestselling autobiography; he also has written a novel and writes about the film industry and politics.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, born in Detroit, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Middlesex.  His most recent book is The Marriage Plot.
  • M. F. K. Fisher, born in Albion (MI), is a preeminent food writer.
  • Robert Frost, moved to Ann Arbor for a teaching fellowship at the University of Michigan, and his home can be viewed at The Henry Ford museum near Detroit.
  • Nancy Hull is a Calvin College professor and children’s book author.
  • Jerry B. Jenkins, born in Kalamazoo (MI), is the co-author of the Left Behind series.
  • Ring Lardner, born in Niles (MI), is best known as the author of the baseball novel You Know Me Al; he was also a friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s.
  • Elmore Leonard, raised in Detroit, is the author of Get Shorty.
  • Philip Levine, born in Detroit, is the 2011 – 2012 Poet Laureate for the US; the Pulitzer Prize winner is known for writing poems about Detroit’s working class.
  • Joyce Carol Oates, born in New York and lived in Detroit for a decade, is a three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and the winner of a National Book Award for Them.
  • Theodore Roethke, born in Saginaw (MI), is the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet of The Waking and the National Book Award for Poetry winner for Words for the Wind and The Far Field.  His immigrant father owned a greenhouse, and Roethke went on to use natural imagery in his work.
  • Gary D. Schmidt is a Calvin College professor and children’s book author.
  • Freshwater Boys, by Michigan author Adam Schuitema, is a collection of short stories about Michigan.

Who are your favorite Michigan-based authors?

Places to Write, Drink Coffee, and Buy Books in Grand Rapids

18 Apr

As most of you know, at the Festival of Faith & Writing I’ll be leading a Festival Circle called Holy Grounds: The Role of Place in Your Spiritual and Literary Life.  One of the things we’ll be discussing is the idea of how where you write can actually affect your writing.

We’ll be talking about writing in such places as quiet home offices, caffeine-fueled coffeehouses, musty old libraries, in the serene beauty of nature, awe-inspiring churches, on the subway, in prison, and while you’re traveling.  Where do you like to write?

I’ll be providing those who registered for the Holy Grounds Festival Circle with a list of literary(-ish) places near Calvin College in Grand Rapids.  Places to relax, get inspiration, study Midwestern scenery and characters, and write.  A lot of us are traveling from out of state so I thought this list would be helpful.  There are plenty of places on campus to write and grab a cup of coffee, and the Festival will probably keep everyone busy enough that they won’t need this list, but sometimes it’s nice to break free from the bubble and see something outside the Festival grounds.  This list may also be helpful to writers who live in the area and are looking for a change of scenery from where they normally write.  I haven’t actually been to any of these places, so tread carefully!  Haha.  If you’re a Michigan writer, tell us your recommended writing places, coffee shops, bookstores, and literary havens.

Literary(-ish) places in Grand Rapids:

Ladies Literary Club (now a performing arts center)

61 Sheldon Blvd SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 459-6322

 

Bookstores in Grand Rapids

Argos Book Shop – Grand Rapids’ Oldest and Largest Used Book Shop!

1405 Robinson Rd SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49506-1722
616-454-0111

argos@argosbooks.com

Business Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10am to 6pm; Sunday: Noon to 3:00 pm


Family Christian Bookstores

3343 Alpine Ave. NW, #A; Grand Rapids, MI

 616-784-7179

 

Literary Life Bookstore & More

758 Wealthy Street SE (the southwest corner of Wealthy and Eastern); Grand Rapids, MI

Business Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10am to 8pm; Sunday closed

 

Schuler Books & MusicCelebrating 30 years as your local, independent bookstore!
2660 28th Street SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-942-2561
info@schulerbooks.com
bookgroupsgr@schulerbooks.com
Manager: Tim@schulerbooks.com

Business Hours: Monday to Saturday: 9am to 10pm; Sunday: 10am to 7pm

 

Schuler Books & Music
40 Fountain N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Phone: 616-459-7750
Promotions: Emily@schulerbooks.com
Manager: Neil@schulerbooks.com

Business Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 9am to 6pm; Thursday and Friday: 9am to 8pm; Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 5pm

 

Coffeehouses in Grand Rapids

76 Coffee

1507 Wealthy St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

616-301-2226

 

Ferris Coffee & Nut

227 Winter Avenue NW; Grand Rapids, MI 49504

616-459-6257

 

Rowster New American Coffee

632 Wealthy Street, SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 780-7777

info@newamericancoffee.com
Business Hours: Monday to Friday: 7am – 7pm; Saturday: 9am – 5pm; Sunday: 11am – 3pm.


West Coast Coffee

55 Monroe Center NW; Grand Rapids MI 49503

Business Hours: Monday to Friday: 6:30am – 5:00pm; Saturday: 9am to 5pm; Sundays: closed

  

My Festival of Faith & Writing Festival Circle: Holy Grounds — The Role of Place in Your Spiritual and Literary Life

9 Mar

As I mentioned a while back, I’ll be leading a Festival Circle this year at the Festival of Faith & Writing held at Calvin College.  It’s a tremendous honor to have been selected to facilitate a discussion group at this prestigious writing conference, where so many authors I admire will be speaking.

In case you’re unfamiliar with what Festival Circle is, here’s how FFW describes it:

This year, we are once again offering Festival Circles, small groups that will meet at least two times during the Festival to discuss a topic of common interest. Each circle, composed of approximately 12–15 attendees and led by a Festival participant, will meet during Thursday dinner and Saturday lunch. Because the circles are scheduled to meet at the same time, it’s possible for attendees to participate in only one.

They go on to explain its purpose:

We hope that Festival Circles will give you a place to connect with other attendees, and to deepen and extend your experience of the Festival.

I want to share with you the description of the Festival Circle that I’m hosting:

Holy Grounds: The Role of Place in Your Spiritual and Literary Life
By looking at what the Bible has to say about the setting of a story, this circle will encourage participants to carefully consider the role of place in their writing, and challenge them to see how different locations affect a story’s style and content.

Facilitator: Stephanie Nikolopoulos
Bio: Stephanie Nikolopoulos (www.StephanieNikolopoulos.com) has worked in book publishing in Manhattan for ten years, is the visual arts editor for Burnside Writers Collective, and is a co-leader of the Writers Group at the Center for Faith & Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York; her writing has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and books across the country.

I’m genuinely passionate about the multi-faceted subject of place.  I wrote about place for my undergrad thesis at Scripps College, my Burnside Writers Collective column Church Hopping talks about the architecture of unique and beautiful places, the travelogue I wrote an introduction to obviously has a strong emphasis on place, the nonfiction book Burning Furiously Beautiful I’m co-authoring describes how the landscape and history of place affected one of America’s greatest novels, and the memoir I’m writing deals very much with place. My resume aside, I love traveling.  I moved out to California for college without ever even visiting the state first.  I’m the child of an immigrant so place has always played an important role in my identity, in my understanding of who I am and where I come from.

Place isn’t always about a physical place, though.  Place can be a mood, a mental space, a spiritual space.  Place can be about a journey, whether that means hopping a train, opening a book and getting lost in the imagination of an author, being moved to tears, learning something about yourself, understanding the world better, or opening yourself up to a new relationship.  A journey from point A to point B isn’t always a single straight line.  This is true for a traveler (even Jack Kerouac had an infamous setback when he first set off on the road), for a writer (hello, thesis draft number 452), or for a person of faith (Paul went around killing Christians before he went on the road to Damascus and saw the light; as a boy David may have killed Goliath but as an adult he committed adultery … and had the woman’s husband killed; Peter adamantly denied even knowing Christ and then became a martyr).  As the old Paula Abdul song goes, two steps forward, two steps back….

With all that in mind, know that I am on a journey too.  I simply want to walk alongside other writers and talk about the meaning of place in all areas of our lives.  If you would like to join my Festival Circle or any of the others, you can find out how to do so here.