Department of English
Writer's Conference: Saturday, April 13, 2013
The Department of
Join us in April for a day of workshops and readings in creative writing, literature, and publishing. We welcome participation from scholars in all disciplines, creative writers of all stripes, professional editors, secondary-, middle-, and elementary-level educators, graduate and undergraduate students, and the general public--in short, anyone interested in reading, writing and literature. We also offer Professional Development Hours to New Jersey Educators.
The Keynote Speaker-Paul Muldoon. Paul Muldoon was born in 1951 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and educated in Armagh and at the Queen's University of Belfast. From 1973 to 1986 he worked in Belfast as a radio and television producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation. Since 1987 he has lived in the United States, where he is now Howard G. B. Clark '21 Professor at Princeton University. In 2007 he was appointed Poetry Editor of The New Yorker. Between 1999 and 2004 he was Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford, where he is an honorary Fellow of Hertford College. Mr. Mulddon’s main collections of poetry are New Weather (1973), Mules (1977), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Quoof (1983), Meeting The British (1987), Madoc: A Mystery (1990), The Annals of Chile (1994), Hay (1998), Poems 1968-1998 (2001), Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), Horse Latitudes (2006), and Maggot (2010). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Paul Muldoon was given an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature for 1996. Other recent awards are the 1994 T. S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, the 2005 Aspen Prize for Poetry, and the 2006 European Prize for Poetry. He has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as "the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War."
Keynote Address: Paul Muldoon: “Songs and Sonnets”: 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM
Literary Readings: 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Chris Salerno (Poetry)
Monica Ferrell (Poetry)
Jimmie Cumbie (Poetry)
J. Mae Barizo with Rob Moose (Poetry & Music)
West Moss (Fiction)
Megan Mayhew Berman (Fiction)
Jamie Quatro (Fiction)
Writing Workshops, 2:15 PM – 3:45 PM
THE SOUND A POEM MAKES Boris Pasternak wrote: “Poetry searches for music amidst the tumult of the dictionary.” Most poetic forms started as song forms: the ballads of British and American poetry, the blues stanzas of Langston Hughes. Many contemporary writers, such as Anne Carson and J.D. McClatchy, have written librettos for opera. To begin our workshop we will explore some of this history of musicians working with writers, listening to sound samples and reading together. With musical prompts from Rob Moose, the second half of the workshop will be devoted to writing exercises. We will discuss what we have written and discuss the compositional techniques at hand. Sharing is optional; as composer/artist John Cage wrote, “I have nothing to say and I’m saying it, and that is poetry.” J. Mae Barizo is the editor of Fields Press and The Aviary Online, a literary journal dedicated to essays, culture and literary criticism. A champion of cross-genre work and performative poetics, Barizo has performed poetry collaborations with various musicians, including Rob Moose of Bon Iver, and the renowned American String Quartet. Her critical writing has been published in Tarpaulin Sky, Sink Review, H_NGM_N, and other journals. New poetry appears in Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Zoland Poetry, Another Chicago Magazine and Bellingham Review. Rob Moose regularly performs on strings and guitar with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall and has played concertmaster for Burt Bacharach and James Carter, viola for Jay-Z, and violin for Savion Glover, Vampire Weekend, Josh Groban and Duncan Sheik. In recent years, he has also toured extensively with Antony and the Johnsons, Sufjan Stevens, Beth Orton, and Bon Iver.
HOWLING IN TUNE In Geronimo Rex, Barry Hannah writes: "Music is not idea. Music is instinct dignified by voice. Music is howling in tune . . . . All art aspires to the condition of music. Make music breed with language." In this workshop, we'll look at how music can—and should—breed with language, specifically the language of fiction. We'll open with a discussion of the ways in which music informs the fiction-writing process, from drafting to revision, and will closely examine stories/novel excerpts with a keen musical sensibility underlying the prose. We'll then break into groups and, using writing prompts, draft our own pages with music in mind. Finally, we'll work on revising what we've drafted, talking about specific formal elements (such as white space, internal rhyme, run-on sentences, etc) that can function musically, to speed things up or slow them down depending on content. The workshop will include ample time for discussion and Q&A. Megan Mayhew Bergman graduated from Wake Forest University, and completed graduate degrees at Duke University and Bennington College. Scribner published her first story collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Best American Short Stories 2011, New Stories from the South 2010, Oxford American, Narrative, Ploughshares, One Story, and elsewhere. Jamie Quatro’s debut story collection, I Want To Show You More, is forthcoming in March 2013 from Grove/Atlantic. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Tin House, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, AGNI, McSweeney’s, Oxford American, and elsewhere. She holds graduate degrees from the College of William and Mary and the Bennington College Writing Seminars, and lives in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.
MUSE REGAINED Has your poetic inspiration and imagination recently pulled up stakes and set sail, Odysseus-like, for parts unknown? Has your Muse moved on to a new love, leaving you bereft, forgotten? Have you found yourself wondering where and how to begin again? This workshop (emphasis will be on work) is designed to help you get back on the horse – your Mojo and Muse regained. We’ll look at various self-starting techniques and exercises deployed by such poetic luminaries as James Wright, Richard Hugo, Frank Stanford, Emily Dickinson and The Replacements. Leave your digital devices at home and bring your favorite, luckiest pen and some paper – because we’ll be going old school, putting some fresh, hot ink to the page. AND as an added workshop bonus I will provide you with a surefire method for creating a promising new poem. Join us for a bit of fun and walk out the door with some new material. Jimmie Cumbie received his undergraduate degree in Theater & Drama from the University of Wisconsin, and a MFA in Poetry from Bennington College. While at Bennington he was awarded the Liam Rector scholarship in poetry. Jimmie’s poems have appeared recently in Spoon River Poetry Review, CavanKerry Press, Swink, Map Literary, and the anthology, The Sonnets: Translating & Rewriting Shakespeare. Jimmie makes his home in Chicago, where for many years he was involved in Chicago’s rich theater scene, having had his plays produced at A Red Orchid, Stage Left, Bailiwick, Voltaire and various regional festivals.
MUSIC, TEXT, FORM In this workshop, we will shine a spotlight on the role of sound in both fiction and poetry. Since the time of the shamans and of the Roman orators, up through today’s late-capitalist moment of consumer advertising and soundbite-driven politics, we’ve been exploiting the magic properties of sound in speech to influence listeners. Creative writing operates not merely on the literal, conscious, content-based level; it affects the subconscious depths as well, and sound is one of the chief means through which it does so. In the first half of this workshop, our conversation will be informed by excerpts from such writers as Dante Alighieri, Christopher Smart, James Joyce, Vladimir Khlebnikov, Ernest Hemingway, Ben Marcus, and Olena Kalytiak Davis. In the second half, we’ll experiment with the creation and workshopping of your own soundscapes and musical scaffolding. Monica Ferrell is the author of a collection of poems, Beasts for the Chase, which won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and was published by Sarabande Books, as well as of a novel, The Answer Is Always Yes (The Dial Press/Random House), which was named a Borders Original Voices Selection and one of Booklist’s Top Ten Debut Novels of 2008. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, A Public Space, Tin House, Slate and many other journals and anthologies. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Discovery/The Nation prizewinner, she directs the creative writing program at Purchase College and lives in Brooklyn.
THE SONG OF THE SIRENS In building rounded characters, we neglect their deep, unfulfilled longings at our own peril. It’s important to know what their “siren song” is. What is it that they want deeply but must to avoid? Discovering this about our characters helps us understand what motivates them, and from where their own internal tensions spring. In our workshop, we will use the characters you have begun to get to know in your own work. We'll attempt to determine what it is they long for but can never have. Perhaps, like Odysseus, it is a beautiful woman that tempts them, but it may also be an ice cream sundae for a skinny woman, a cigarette, a promotion that will ruin their marriage, or a boy they once loved who died a long time ago. We’ll look at examples of such dangerous longing in literature and ways to incorporate such longings into the worlds of your own characters. West Moss is a lecturer at William Paterson University in the English Department’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric. She has had her work published in The New York Times, The Parents League of New York Review, Blotter Magazine, and other venues. She has a BA in English from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in Education from Mercy College.
AN AMPLIFIER FOR ORPHEUS: SOUND EFFECTS IN LYRIC POETRY Poetry began as song, and its power still resides largely in sound and noise. Whether hard or soft, vowel or consonant, quiet or loud, the musical score affects the tone of the lyric poem. The poet Richard Howard said, “Verse reverses, prose proceeds,” which suggests that the poem has about it a centrifugal force. We build and carry forward familiarity and resonance from line to line. We are lead by the ear. Modern free verse poetry (written not to the cadence of the metronome, but written instead to the musical phrase) presents infinite opportunity to go beyond the elementary devices of sound. In this workshop we will study various contemporary examples and, with that inspiration, we will begin to take our own solos, consider alternative sound effects, and explore the power of repetition, refrain, amplification, and quiet. Christopher Salerno is the author of Minimum Heroic, winner of the Mississippi Review Poetry Series Prize (MRPS, 2010), Whirligig (Spuyten Duyvil, 2006), and a new chapbook, ATM (Horse Less Press, 2010). A recipient of a Nazim Hikmet Poetry Award (2009), and the Independent Poetry Prize (2009), his poems can be found in journals such as Fence, Denver Quarterly, Boston Review, American Letters and Commentary, Black Warrior Review, Tusculum Review, Drunken Boat, and elsewhere. He is Managing Editor of Map Literary magazine.