- Wilkes at AWP in Washington, D.C.
- Call for Papers for Mailer Conference
- Take Credit for Your Talent
- Community Workshops for Spring
- PWC Returns in August
- News From Faculty, Students, And Alums
Our nation's capital welcomed more than 12,000 writers, publishers, creative writing faculty, and students to the Annual Conference of Writers and Writing Programs held February 8-11, 2017 at the Washington Convention Center and Washington Marriott Marquis Hotel. Wilkes and program partners were among the thousands of literary lovers in D.C.
AWP17 kicked off on Wednesday evening with the 50th Anniversary Gala, benefitting
the Association's mentorship program. Etruscan Press and Wilkes University co-sponsored
a table at the Gala. Table guests included Program Director Dr. Bonnie Culver; Founding Advisory Board member Dr. J. Michael Lennon; Advisory Board member Tim Seibles; Faculty Members Dr. Phil Brady, Kaylie Jones, Dr. Robert Mooney; Program Partner Johnny Temple; NPR's Maureen Corrigan; Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James (M.F.A. '06); and Associate Director Bill Schneider (M.F.A.'14). Wilkes also provided student volunteers for the Gala, including Etruscan
intern Justin Bodnar; M.A. students Aurora Bonner, Lisa Greim, Christopher Owens, Pamela Turchin, and Danie Watson; and alumnae Kelly Clisham and Vicki Mayk, who all donned their cocktail attire and manned the Gala desks.
Thursday morning the Bookfair began. Wilkes and Etruscan co-sponsored a booth where Wilkes alumni, current students, and faculty answered questions, recruited new students, and networked. Faculty members Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr, Gregory Fletcher, Lenore Hart, Kaylie Jones, Jean Klein, J. Michael Lennon, David Poyer, and Bill Schneider answered the questions of prospective students and faculty. Alumni Austin Bennett, Kait Burrier, Wendy Decker, Brian Fannelli, Pat Florio, Stanton Hancock, Tony Kapolka, Donna Mailes, Jonathan Pierce, and Joseph Schwartzburt, along with current students Whitney Brimat, Melody Breyer-Grell, Bibiana Krall, Pamela Turchin, and Danie Watson manned the booth in shifts throughout the Bookfair. Lisa Greim hopped from event to event, snapping photos of all Wilkes-affiliated presenters.
Wilkes faculty, staff, and alumni participated in more than 15 panels, readings, and off-site events. Faculty members Laurie Jean Cannady, Susan Cartsonis, Gregory Fletcher, Kaylie Jones, Jean Klein, Laurie Lowenstein, and Tim Seibles presented or read during the conference. Alumni Viannah Duncan, Lori Myers, Nisha Sharma, Donna Talarico, Barbara J. Taylor, Jim Warner, and Morowa Yejide represented Wilkes on panels across the convention schedule. Alumni Jason Carney hosted the AWP Old School Slam, sponsored by Wilkes and Etruscan, which boasted an impressive 26 poets who presented their work.
Program partners—Akashic Books, Blue Moon Plays, Etruscan Press, Kaylie Jones Books, and Northampton House Press—were all represented at AWP17. Etruscan Press hosted book signings in the booth, including authors Remica Bingham-Risher, Bruce Bond, Laurie Jean Cannady, David Lazar, J.D. Schraffenberger, Tim Seibles, and D. M. Spitzer. Kaylie Jones Books hosted a book signing after their reading, including authors Laurie Lowenstein, J. Patrick Redmond, Patricia Smith, and Barbara J. Taylor. Literary agent and outside reader Albert LaFarge stopped by the booth to engage current students and alumni about their current projects. Wilkes Graduate Creative Writing Program Founding Advisory Board Member Colum McCann and alum Marlon James were featured speakers.
AWP17 also marked Program Director Bonnie Culver's final year as Chair of the AWP Board of Trustees. Dr. Culver has served on the Board
of Trustees for four years as Chair, and will now be serving as Vice Chair. Of her
service, Dr. Culver says, "The board I serve with is one of the most diverse, committed,
and experienced groups I have had the joy of joining." In her final words as Board
Chair, Dr. Culver says, "Our association's new story can only be written by all of
us, through conversations, engagement, philanthropy, and your own writing and good
Next year's AWP will be held in Tampa, Florida from March 7-10, 2018. The 2018 Conference Subcommittee is seeking proposals that feature panelists who are diverse in their backgrounds, pursuits, affiliations, and ages, and who represent a broad range of perspectives and experiences. AWP encourages participation from current and recent graduate students. Successful proposals observe the guidelines and modules by which the Subcommittee receive and review proposals. Please read the Event Proposal Guidelines carefully as well as information about How Events Are Selected.
If you have questions about submitting a proposal, please email the AWP 2018 Conference Subcommittee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Event proposals for the 2018 conference may be submitted until Monday, May 1, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. ET (8:59 p.m. PT).
The 2017 Norman Mailer Society Conference will be held Oct. 26-28 at the Sarasota Lido Hotel, Sarasota, Fla., in cooperation with the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.
Two or three papers will be presented in one-hour time slots, with the remaining time going to participant discussion and audience questions. To accommodate all presenters, paper presentations should be no longer than ten minutes. Panels will also run for one hour, as will most video screenings. Please indicate media requirements in your proposal. $100 travel grants are available for students whose proposals are approved.
Guidelines for submission: Email a 50-word biographical statement and a 150-200 word abstract of the proposed presentation to the program co-chairs by June 1, 2017. Phillip Sipiora (email@example.com), Maggie McKinley (firstname.lastname@example.org), and J. Michael Lennon (email@example.com) are the program co-chairs. Please email them with ideas for panels, papers, or special events.
By Danie Watson
It's no secret that to receive an M.F.A. at Wilkes University, students must complete a six-credit internship. What is a secret are the number of hours each graduate student puts in for their internship.
According to Megan Boone Valkenburg, the Coordinator of Student Development, each graduate student at Wilkes completes an average of 70 to 75 community service hours per year, but this number doesn't include the Graduate Creative Writing Program.
Valkenburg isn't just interested in the hours each student puts in every year. She also wants to focus on the impact of the service to our writing community and beyond.
"We want to tell the story of Wilkes University and the story of how our students impact their communities and communities of origin. To be able to tell that story of the good works students are doing; their ingenuity and inspiration—it's amazing," says Valkenburg. "Once you get that synergy going, amazing things start to form—marginalized students find a voice, prisoners have an outlet. It's so important for community-minded people to step up."
And they have. In the education track of the M.F.A., internships have included developing curriculums, teaching creative writing to underserved populations, and much more. A few examples of outstanding internships include:
John Winston conducted a middle school creative writing program for underserved students at Gompers Elementary/Middle School in Detroit, Mich. The craft- and reading-based class included interaction with a local author via Wikispace, and culminated with a presentation of work for parents and guardians. John also sponsored Adopt-An-Author, a free nationwide nonprofit program designed to excite young adults about reading and writing through the use of best-selling thrillers, heroic nonfiction stories, motivational books and direct contact with the authors via personal appearances, classroom phone calls, emails, and interactive websites. He also designed and taught several workshops for adult learners at the Las Vegas Writer's Conference: World Building in Fiction; Poetry as Fiction Workshop; and The Journey to IA: From Recording Artist to Author.
Vicki Mayk designed, implemented, and taught a memoir workshop for the bereavement program of St. Luke's Hospice, which is part of St. Luke's University Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa. The sessions covered the building blocks of memoir, aimed at introducing participants to the tools needed for crafting essays or beginning full-length memoirs about family members they have lost.
Vylinda Bryant designed and implemented creative writing classes that emphasized the use of the Visual Arts as a springboard for the writing process. Vylinda developed units and lesson plans for elementary school students through adults at The Hermitage Museum and Gardens in Norfolk, Va.
Bill Schneider instructed a creative writing workshop series for veterans, held at the West Pittston Library in Pennsylvania. Bill designed the sessions to help veterans find a voice, enhancing his instruction with video clips and readings, prompting participants to bring their words to the page.
Rachel Strayer instructed a playwriting workshop for grades 7-12 at the South Abington Library, Clark Summit, Pa. Rachel designed lessons for playwriting format; identifying theatrical ideas; developing character; using stage directions to create setting, tone, and visual aesthetic; crafting good dialogue; writing a beginning, middle, and end; and revising a final script. Each workshop included writing prompts, followed by a craft lesson focusing on a particular skill or element of playwriting. Students staged a public reading of their scripts. In addition, Rachel completed a two-week internship at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, MN. Rachel assumed administrative duties, facilitated the workshop and staged reading of the visiting playwrights, and supervised a PlayLab.
Ashley Supinski developed a fiction writing workshop for teenage writers in Northampton, Pa., in which the group worked on aspects of craft and produced a final publication. The class met Saturday mornings at the public library and included oral delivery and reading components.
Dr. Nancy McKinley says, "I could provide 30 or more examples. The interns have done amazing community service, and many have reached out to underserved communities. In fact, one of my personal goals is to help facilitate ways for bringing The Arts to underserved populations. Thus, by helping to prepare interns, I make inroads, and we spread the power of the word."
In the publishing realm, interns have written grants, copyedited, launched publishing endeavors, developed podcasts, and more. Some Etruscan interns have even gone on to work for a press. Dr. Phil Brady describes a few success stories below:
Molly Barari accomplished something very special; she turned her activities with senior citizens into a unique project, and somehow got the project finished on schedule. Dakota Heirlooms has been submitted to the publisher and is now available. I couldn't be prouder or happier for Molly and for her publisher, Jean Klein.
Austin Bennett came up with one of the best capstones for an internship I've seen. His portfolio included an extensive guide to researching grants, and also included particular grant-targets and strategies. He's taken on possibilities for River and South as well as Etruscan. He wrote a concise and commanding rationale for writing book reviews, and wrote a publishable book review. He also researched the work of H. L. Hix—a daunting task—and is preparing, post-internship, to interview Hix. He has just accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at City College at Montana State University Billings. In addition, Austin was very supportive of his colleagues on the bulletin board. He is a talented and charismatic young man, and I predict a great future in writing and teaching for him.
Leah Vernon took on so many new occupations: copyediting, reviewing memoir, writing study guides, following production, assisting with marketing, and supporting the work of her fellow interns on the bulletin board. All this, she accomplished—and did it on the run, since our original plan was to work with KJB as well as Etruscan. To top it off, she took a trip to Minneapolis and attended AWP, where she met a number of authors and publishers, including Laurie Jean Cannady, whose book Leah had been working on all term. I'm confident that Leah learned as much as possible from this internship. She's a powerful, talented young writer and I think she will accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.
Johanna James demonstrated the most essential qualities in the dynamic and challenging world of publishing: she is imaginative, intrepid, flexible, and endowed with big-picture vision. She launched a new publishing endeavor, Black Ink, which promises to offer new opportunities to writers of diverse backgrounds and points of view. Most importantly, Johanna brought about a new enterprise that has promise and participation from an impressive community. She is a model for what the M.A. in Literary Publishing can be and I have no doubt that she will continue to work with Wilkes and to share resources and encouragement with members of the program and candidates for the publishing degree.
Suzanne Ohlmann accomplished something very special; she conceived, developed and produced her first podcast—first in a series I expect, called Storycatcher, which brings together writers, readers, and ordinary (and weird) folk to discuss the activity of making and hearing stories. Suzanne's gifts—her performance background, her talent as a writer, her community building talent, her wit and charm—are all part of story catching. This project has legs, and will far outlast its beginnings as an internship.
Of her publishing internship, April Line says, "I loved the real-world experience of writing grants with Etruscan. I have not since felt as professionally validated and useful as I did during my internship. Both Bill Schneider and Phil Brady were incredibly encouraging and positive, and I had pretty broad autonomy to make things happen, which I also appreciated because it signaled that they trusted me and my instincts."
These amazing internships completed by M.F.A. students are not counted in the average number of hours at Wilkes. To include the Graduate Creative Writing Program in the student averages, each student needs to complete a quick survey outlining the type of service, number of hours, and where the service was completed.
Please watch for the forthcoming survey from the Creative Writing Program. Your responses will help Valkenburg share our success stories. The results will be shared with the Institutional Research Department at Wilkes, and help showcase how our writing community has achieved many of the University's core values.
Danie Watson is a graduate assistant for Etruscan Press and an M.A. student in creative nonfiction at Wilkes University.
As the snow melts and the flowers begin to bloom, Wilkes is once again offering community writing workshops for adult students, taught by program alums and faculty. The cost for each workshop series is $65.00.
This adult workshop will focus on the construction of a poem from a single word or idea to a fully developed piece. Using short verse to create a compact image/thought, participants will explore narrative poems to create and develop dramatic poetry and/or story.
Requirements: Each participant is expected to write at least ten short poems and two longer narratives during the workshop series. Reading and discussions of poetry handouts and participation in workshopping individual poems and critiquing others. Final presentation of work should be in the form of a chapbook that workshop participants will compile throughout the workshop series.
Meetings: Tuesdays – 6-8 p.m., April 25, May 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30
Instructor: Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr
Social Media Workshop: How to Leverage Social Media to Publish Your Work and Promote Yourself
Social media isn't just for liking photos of your second-cousin's lobster dinner or watching hilarious cat videos—you can learn to wield the social sphere to your professional and creative advantage! This six-week adult workshop introduces you to the various social media platforms that are popular today, and will teach you how to market yourself and your writing in unique and exciting ways. In this class, your instructor will work with you to build your online persona and show you how to reach out to new communities and new readers. Classes are divided into lecture and activity sessions, and each class will have a take-home assignment.
Requirements: Each participant should have access to a computer and the internet. Please bring
a smartphone to class.
Meetings: Tuesdays – 5:30-7:30 p.m., May 2, 9, 16, 23 30 and June 6
Instructor: Angela Greco
The Poetry of Revision: What Fiction Writers Can Learn from Ezra Pound
This adult workshop will focus on applying certain elements to prose from poetry, such as word play and concision, to help fiction writers revise their stories. Workshop participants will look at several poets, especially more modern ones, in addition to Ezra Pound's The ABC of Reading.
Requirements: Each participant should have access to a computer and a printer; bring copies of
three consecutive, double-spaced pages of a work-in-progress to the first workshop;
and carry a folder, notebook, and colored pen (not black ink) to each workshop.
Meetings: Tuesdays – 6-8 p.m., May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and June 6
Instructor: Francisco Tutella
Blueprints to the Silver Screen: An Intro to Screenwriting
The screenwriter is the first person to see the movie. In this six-week adult workshop, we'll explore the art of crafting compelling stories, characters, and images from your imagination to the page, ready for the silver screen. Course participants will utilize the learnings gained from these discussions to craft individual short screenplays ready for presentation at the workshop's conclusion.
Course Text:The Screenwriters Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your
Script, 6th edition. by David Trottier
Meetings: Wednesdays – 6-8 p.m., May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and June 7
Instructor: Robert Holly
Each participant in this adult workshop will create their own personal history of their families, passed down to create a legacy, tracing their ancestry and location in the Wilkes-Barre area, using all family records, Bibles, census information, school and public records, as well as family lore. A major source for their writing will be the stories that have been handed down for generations, songs, crafts and recipes. Each participant will bring all these elements to write their own personal history and will share in workshop their process of collection of materials, means of archiving stories, and discussions around regional histories and persona identities within various communities.
Supplemental sources may include interviews with elders in families, religious leaders, priests and ministers, old photographs, videos, letters, personal materials (such as clothes and household possessions), handouts about online genealogy searches, as well as local libraries.
Requirements: Each participant will maintain a notebook or folder as a permanent record of their
heritage. The type of notebook is up to the workshop participant, but it should be
such that one can add to and is sturdy to last for years to come.
Meetings: Wednesdays – 6-8 p.m., April 26, May 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31
Instructor: Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr
From Plot to Page: Turning an Idea into Prose
This adult workshop is designed to help writers turn ideas into stories. In the first week, we will begin by discussing where ideas come from. Then we'll introduce organizational techniques such as outlining and other prewriting strategies. Finally, we'll write, read, and workshop the stories we create from those original ideas.
This workshop can accommodate new writers, writers looking to start a new project, or writers deep into revision. Weeks two to six will focus on workshopping work at the author's discretion.
Meetings: Thursdays – 6:30-8:30 p.m., May 11, 18, 25, June 1, 8 and 15
Instructors: Robert Antinozzi and Alyssa Waugh
Mark your calendars for the 3rd Annual Pennsylvania Writers Conference, which is set to launch July 30 and wrap up August 5, 2017. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey is slated as the keynote speaker, and a schedule is in the works to include weeklong workshops in a variety of writing genres as well as a two-day conference with craft classes, panel discussions, guest speakers, and pitch sessions with agents. For more information, visit http://wilkes.edu/pwc.
Bonnie Culver, program director, was elected to the Executive Committee of the AWP Board of Trustees. She will serve as vice chair of the board.
Gregory Fletcher (Playwriting faculty) made his short story debut with his story "Friends of Vera" in the anthology The Night Bazaar, published by Northampton House Press.
Lenore Hart has a poem in Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry, edited by Ginny Lowe Connors and published this spring by Grayson Press. The book was available in time for International Women's Day (March 8). Some of the contributors read at a book launch in Connecticut through the Riverwood Poetry Series on March 9.
J. Michael Lennon reviewed Joan Didion's new book, South and West, in the (London) Times Literary Supplement Feb. 2. "Editor, edit thyself," Mike's review of Robert Gottlieb's memoir for the TLS, pulls no punches: "Avid Reader: A Life is full of stale phrases, sketchy anecdotes and perfunctory accolades for all the wonderful guys and gals he's worked with over the years." Nevertheless, Dr. Lennon writes, Gottlieb tells fascinating stories about the writers he coddled, cajoled, and masterminded into print, including Chaim Potok, Lauren Bacall, and Robert Caro. Lennon's edition of Norman Mailer's The Fight (about "The Rumble in the Jungle," the Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman championship bout in Zaire in 1974) has just been published by Taschen Books in an oversized edition with hundreds of photos.
David Poyer did a long interview with the Center for International Maritime Security about his writing process and the background for his Modern Navy novels, specifically the latest, Onslaught, which was published in December.
Austin Grant Bennett (M.F.A.'15) began work in January as an instructor for City College at Montana State University Billings.
Tom Borthwick (M.F.A. '09) published a short story, "Silencing the Machine," in Altered States II: a Cyberpunk Anthology. It's available on Amazon in print and digital formats, and was cited as a standout and favorably reviewed at the Cyberpunk website, Neon Dystopia. Another short story, "Long in the Dying," was published in Phantaxis Magazine. It's available for purchase on Amazon.
2017 M.F.A. grad Gabrielle D'Amico's(pictured right) screenplay, Plan B, has been optioned by Intuition Media, a production company whose partners include Susan Cartsonis, Suzanne Farwell and Brent Emery.
Angela Eckhart, "one of the Original Tattooed Wilkies from the Class of 2009," doesn't have any news but writes, "I am thrilled to be connected with this writing community, even though I haven't visited a residency for quite some time."
Brian Fanelli (M.F.A. '10) recently had an essay on Thoreau, Emerson, and the American poetic tradition accepted for publication by the Philadelphia-based Schuylkill Valley Journal. A preview of the essay appears online, and the print version will be published in June.
Richard Fellinger (M.F.A. '10) has signed a contract with Open Books to publish his debut novel, Made To Break Your Heart. Publication is slated for June 2017.
D Ferrara's (M.A. '13) screenplay, Arvin Lindemeyer Takes Canarsie, won the Outstanding Feature-Length Screenplay at the Oil Valley Film Festival. This piece had formed the basis of her thesis at Wilkes. With Pat Florio, she is also editing a book of short fiction and memoir created by participants at a workshop with Kaylie Jones and Judy Mandel in Tuscany, due out later this year from Wendy Decker's Serendipity Press.
Sandee Gertz (M.F.A. '12) hosts "Everyday Poetry: Poetry for the People!" on Radio Free Nashville -- available worldwide on the net. She says: "It's a live call-in show and features Working Class Poetry—and poetry rooted in place, work, blue-collar, white-collar, pink-collar concerns, etc. It also features place-based and Americana travel poetry." She's looking for submissions of work in any genre (especially interested in working people, parenting, domestic labor and Southern stories), author interviews, and music. "I'd be happy to have any alums send work for consideration on the show. I also play roots music so am always looking for submissions for that as well!" Send submissions (poetry, stories, books, recordings) to Sandee Gertz, 1805 Cahal Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cooper Gorelick (M.A. student) continued his research for his thesis project—a screenplay about a theater company—by playing the role of Juror No. 9 in Rutgers-Camden's production of Reginald Rose's 12 Angry Jurors, Feb. 22-26.
The launch for Heather Harlen's (M.A. '08) latest book, Shame, Shame, I Know Your Name, was March 4 at the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pa.
Paul Jackson (M.A. '14) had 3 poems published in Fictional Café in January.
Nichole Kanney (M.F.A '15) had her feature-length comedy screenplay Shady Birch selected as a finalist for the 2017 Nashville Film Festival.
Kimberly Behre Kenna (M.A. '15) had her poem, "Spirit's Stream," published in the January edition of GFT Press. She was recently hired to write humanities curriculum, and teach for the Pathfinder program at Hopkins School in New Haven, Conn. Pathfinder is a free academic enrichment program for middle school students, attending city schools, who have a strong desire to prepare for and attend college.
Monique Antonette Lewis (M.F.A. '12) was a featured reader for Great Weather for MEDIA in New York and the FBomb and The Art of Storytelling reading series, both in Denver. Her flash fiction story, "You're Cursed," was published by PoetryBay in December. She also spoke on a panel during Regis University's Mile-High MFA residency to discuss At The Inkwell.
Lori A. May (M.F.A.'13) has an essay in the latest quarterly issue of Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. She was recently interviewed about her book The Write Crowd for Understorey Magazine. She is currently working on a series of podcasts as part of her project grant with King County.
Todd McClimans' (M.A. '12) latest novel, Time To Heal (Overdue Books, 2017), the third installment in his American Epochs series, was reviewed in the February issue of VOYA, a library journal devoted to young adult literature. "McClimans paints a vivid picture of the bloodiest time in American history—the Civil War," reviewer Richard Vigdor writes. Kirkus Reviews liked it too, saying, "He writes in a sharp, energetic prose ('Kristi Connors lunged to catch a rolling can of Coca-Cola as it spread a fizzling brown wave across her desktop'), and the novel's quick pace and unusual chronology make for an engrossing read. ... lively and fun ... A well-constructed, compelling addition to an ongoing time-travel tale."
Josh Penzone's (M.A. '13) short story "Artificial Tree" appeared in Eunoia Review. Also, his short story "A Soldier's Story" kicks off the anthology The Neighbors, produced by Zimbell House Publishing.
Dania Ramos' (M.A. '10) short story "Vista Eterna" was published in the anthology The Night Bazaar: Eleven Haunting Tales of Forbidden Wishes and Dangerous Desires (Northampton House Press). Her short musical Work With Us, co-written with Michael Aquino, was featured in Continuing the Conversation: An Evening of Short Plays in Response to the Election (Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre). Dania's book Who's Ju, also from Northampton House, has won or been a finalist for several international awards, including Best Hispanic YA eBook 2016, finalist for the Mariposa Prize, and now a finalist for the 2017 Sakura Prize in Japan.
M.F.A. student Ronnie K. Stephens reports, "My second poetry collection, They Rewrote Themselves Legendary, is now available via my website. The collection is a fully illustrated collaborative work, pairing ekphrastic poems with artwork by Desarae Lee, and was released in late February by Timber Mouse." Timber Mouse is an independent publisher, based in Austin, Texas, that promotes the work of spoken-word artists. (pictured right)
Donna Talarico (M.F.A. '10) edited Selected Memories: Five Years of Hippocampus Magazine, the first release from Hippocampus' books division. The book was officially launched with a live event and reading at AWP 2017. Also at AWP, she served on a panel about grassroots conference promotion. In spring 2017, Talarico is teaching "Marketing Books and Magazines" at Rosemont College, and personal branding workshops at Pennsylvania College of Arts and Design.