Tag Archives: The New School

Poetry, Picnics, and Catching up with Friends at the New York City Poetry Festival

27 Jul

 

Last weekend was so perfect.  The Poetry Society of New York held its annual New York City Poetry Festival, two full days of poetry, performance, creativity, and general amazingness out on Governor’s Island.

The last time I was at Governor’s Island, I was there to see She & Him — you know, the retro-tuned band with big-eyed Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward.  I’ve gotten to the (cranky) age where the annual tradition of outdoor summer music concerts leave me fishing out sunblock and wondering why we can’t all sit down like civilized adults and listen respectfully to the music.  The New York City Poetry Festival is kind of the Woodstock of poetry.  It fits my temperament quite nicely because I’m allowed to just lay out in the grass, close my eyes, and listen to words that make me think and feel.

My friends and I packed a picnic lunch of hummus and baby carrots and smoked gouda and nectarines.  We sat in wet grass in our sundresses and borrowed shirts.  And we listened.  And we considered not just the words, but the rhythm of the words.  And we soaked it all in.

It was also great to see so many poets from The New School‘s MFA program there!  I’m pretty picky when it comes to poetry, but I think so many of them are just brilliant.

I was quite impressed with the number of reading series that came out for the event.  There was The Inspired Word, Cornelia Street, Patasola’s ParlorNew York Quarterly, and, well, two full days worth of other poetry series. For the complete list, click here.

The festival was, like any event, a mixed bag.  Some poets were better than others.  Some I came specifically to see, and others I had never heard of and went home and looked them up.

The New York City Poetry Festival was good for my soul.

Tasty Tuesday: Pictures from Dinner at Village Taverna

10 Jul

 

 

 

While I was getting my MFA in creative nonfiction at The New School, I kept walking by a Greek restaurant that was being built on University Place.  When it finally opened, I was drowning in writing my thesis and Burning Furiously Beautiful.  Right before the semester ended my writer friend Allison–who is obsessed with Greece (a good thing considering all the Greek stories I shared in class)–and I went to check it out.  Village Taverna was definitely worth the wait.

The food at Village Taverna is classic Greek taverna fare served up in a spacious, beautiful dining area with a casual vibe.  The portions were generous–and delicious.  I didn’t try the wine, but they have an impressive Greek wine list.  Village Taverna has the best vegetarian gyro in New York–the grilled vegetables pita wrap.  I want to go back and try their meze–tzatziki and veggie chips, namely–and vegetarian moussaka (it has artichokes in it!).

Who’s with me?!

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.

The Story of Turning My Thesis In

29 May

You already saw the picture from my reading, but here’s the story of completing my theses.  Oh and what an adventure it was.

One of my best friends was getting married on the Sunday before my thesis was due (why don’t people plan their lives around my writing schedule?!) so I had to put the finishing touches on it, print it out, and get it professionally bound that Saturday.  Well, let me tell you, finding a company that does vello binding is not as easy as it sounds even in New York City, where most things are at your fingertips.  I was rushing around New York, being turned down by one place after the next.  Finally, I found a FedEx in Chelsea that could do it, but they were so packed that they told me to drop off the manuscript and then they’d call me back once it had been printed on high-quality paper and bound.  I don’t live in that area so of course that meant lots of time traveling back and forth on the subway.  But the guy who helped me had the name of one of literature’s most fascinating characters and was so helpful, giving me special coupons for when the time comes to mail my manuscript off to publishers.

It felt kind of anticlimactic turning my thesis in on Monday.  I ran down to the Writing Program’s office on my lunch break and thought the office would be abuzz with friends from my workshops.  I only ran into one other person turning her thesis in at the same time as me.  I was in and out pretty quickly, after indulging in a piece of delicious chocolate from the office’s basket as my reward.

Since I was in the area I decided to go to Argo Tea.  One of the women from the writing program introduced the Chicago-founded company to me, and I’m officially obsessed with their Red Velvet Tea.  It is insane how delicious that tea is.

That evening I saw a bunch of writers from my graduating class post that they had submitted their theses.  It’s so exciting!  There were so many great writers in the program, and I can’t wait to see their theses turned into books.

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.

A Chat with My Editor Brings Exciting News

1 Apr

Had a great chat with my former editor last week.  He told me about some great events at Cornelia Street Café;  I told him about a reading by a political prisoner I attended at The New School.

He also let me in on some exciting news::: the ebook edition of A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains—letters by Isabella Bird, introduction by yours truly—is currently one of his bestsellers!

 

 

Obviously, I’m happy on a personal and professional level, but I’m also happy because Isabella Bird’s story is so beautiful and inspiring and it deserves a wider audience.  The short of it is that Bird left the comforts of home in Victorian England to travel by herself through the rough terrain of America’s Rocky Mountains.  As I wrote in my introduction to the book, “Whether you’re interested in nature, the history of the Rocky Mountain region, travel writing, Christianity, or women’s studies, Bird’s simple yet provocative letters will entertain your imagination.”

I’d say that’s worth the $1.99 for the nook book!

Mapping Out Houses of Worship in NYC

24 Mar

Remember the other day when I mentioned that cute little restaurant Penelope?  Well, last Friday Penelope happened to be the opening setting of a New York Times article by Mark Oppenheimer, entitled “Mapping Religious Life in the Five Boroughs, With Shoe Leather and a Web Site.”  The article is about a Texas native named Tony Carnes, who moved to New York to go to The New School, where incidentally I’m enrolled in the MFA program, and who is, according to his website, “exploring the postsecular city.”

He’s mapping out every house of worship in the five boroughs of New York.  My immediate thought was: there are so many churches that make use of school auditoriums, bars, and ballrooms — how will he find those churches, if he’s driving around looking for church signs?  Well, apparently Carnes hears about those by word of mouth.

But he isn’t just mapping the city out.  He and his colleagues are telling stories.  Stories such as:

“The youth of Bethany Baptist Church put together a modestware fashion show in Jamaica, Queens called ‘A World of Difference.’ They follow a long tradition of fashion shows in African American churches.” —Fashion in Church, Jamaica, Queens

“Under the searing sun and stench of roadside garbage, a teenage Hispanic girl carrying a baby boy comes out of a door next to a church. Her tousled hair looked like she’d been up all night. The baby’s unwashed face was smeared with dirt; a diaper was the only thing covering his bare skin.” — Girl Power in Flatbush

“What church would get rid of its pews to make more room for feeding the poor? Surely, wouldn’t the pastor resign, the elders stomp out in exasperation, and the members hastily decamp for a properly pewed church? All that didn’t happen at a Lower East Side church ten years ago when it did just that…” —East Village church threw out its pews to make room for the poor

If you want to know about Greek Orthodox churches and Greek Pentecostal, there’s also an article posted on the census the nonprofit took in Astoria.

I love the way Carnes and his nonprofit organization are uniting houses of worship.  In a way, it’s kind of a blend of the way Burnside Writers Collective gives community and voice to people of varied Christian background (head’s up: check out my church hopping column tomorrow!) and Asphalt Eden illustrates various New York church’s unique personalities by listing events.

In another way, it reminds me of the exciting and noble work the Endangered Language Alliance, headed up by Dan Kaufman, Bob Holman, and Juliette Blevins, is doing, mapping out endangered languages in New York and working to preserve them.

For more on Carnes’ “Journey thru NYC religions” visit http://www.nycreligion.info.

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.”