During the MFA Residency I usually have no fewer than three things on my mind at all times and it’s hard to focus on any single thought. Nonetheless, I jot down notes on the schedule to be unpacked at a later time. Now is that tim.
“Language is fundamental to the possibility of re-wonderment.”~ Robert Macfarlane, cited in an epigraph to Erin Coughlin Hollowell’s poem “Force”
“Good luck and bad happen at the same time. Don’t be surprised by either.” ~Dana
“Pay attention to important strangers.”~DL
“All anyone has to offer is their unprecedented experience of being alive.”~Vijay Seshedri, cited by DL
“Do not whack the art.”~Hollis Mickey
“A canon is a weapon no matter how you spell it.”~Valerie Miner
22 years passed between my finishing graduate school and the publication of my first book. ~DS
“The bossy e makes the letter say its name.”~Nicole Stellon O’Donnell
Before Tom, the drunk guy, disturbed our evening reading he introduced himself to me. I confess: I sized him up as probably homeless, but not inebriated. He asked me: is your cancer in remission? Have you read The Great Gatsby again? I was stunned and it took me a beat to realize he was referencing some lines in an essay that I read on the stage ten years ago. I had not met him or seen him ever before.
The showing vs. telling distinction, which writing teachers love to talk about, universally valorizing showing over telling, is a false dichotomy. There is only telling, which can sometimes foster the illusion of showing.~So I declare.
“Envision a stanza as a guy you dumped.”~NSO
“Lots of black roses and bleeding things.”~NSO speaking of her teenaged writing
“Hot pads and aprons.”~ MoHagani Magnetek
“Why did Slick have to die?”~ Barry Donaldson asked me about a character in my book.
“What’s she trying to do to us?”~ Cameron Murray asked me after I was openly weeping at Lauren Heyano’s singing about her grandfather at the Writers Block.
Also, Cameron to me: “Jesus, do you not know how to pour a beer?”
“Dear Sex Acquaintance~” Keriann Gilson
“I want to be a fly on my life’s wall.”~Sarah Mouracade
“Revise toward strangeness.”~ Brenda Hillman, cited by DL
Revise toward strangeness, David Stevenson concurs, But not when writing your thesis essay.
“Life’s nonsense pierces us with strange relations.”.~Wallace Stevens, cited by DL