- This Side of the Divide Anthology Seeks Short Fiction
- Deadline: October 31, 2017
Zack Rogow sends along this announcement for fiction students:
Well, some fun ones, too. The program's Facebook page has photographs from the summer residency, as well as publication news from student writers and mentors and the occasional interesting link to stories about writing and such. You might also want to join the ultra-exclusive Blue Fox Literary Society, which posts news and links from current and past students and faculty. It's a closed group, but get in touch with one of the members (including your friendly faculty mentors) and you're in like Flynn.
On the practical side, the Graduate School's web presence seems to shift through time and space, but here is the latest verified link: UAA Graduate School. Of supreme importance to you third-years is the 2015-16 Graduate Student Handbook. You'll also want to memorize every single page of the Thesis Formatting Handbook, revised in Spring 2014. Enjoy!
By Dan Branch
It’s raining. I’m walking into a sea of middle-aged Motley Crue fans, each a stunning example of bad wardrobe choice. I am wiping rain off my glasses while wondering, “Did that woman ever look good in that cut away blouse with her breasts unsupported by a bra?”
It’s raining. I’m walking into a room full of MFA students, taking a seat in the Non Fiction ghetto. I’m wondering how the environmental movement survived Abbey, how many loggers ended up in hospital when their chain saw hit a tree spike, whether Craig Childs ever sleeps, ever slows down, ever sips tea while listening to Corelli.
It's still raining. I am sleeping, dreaming about Childs’ desert until the Blue Fox empties out and liquored-up writers jam up against the dorm door like salmon at a weir.
It’s never going to stop raining, not even for me, one virtuous enough to wheel my folding bike out of the dorm at 7 a.m. for a two-hour ride on the coastal trail that soon goes wrong.
I’m wet when I reach where the Sandhill Cranes fed yesterday morning. Their absence is the first of a string of unfortunate events that will deny me a chance to answer writing prompts at the Science Center. I will never ponder what it is like to be a mosquito just before the swat. Never watch a moose chase Rob Pockat into the teeth of a bear.
I wish I could blame a moose for making me late by blocking the bike path but none appears, even after a Cook Inlet wave soaks my left shoe, which a moose would have found funny. I can’t blame bears, brown or black. They didn’t even leave scat for me to swerve around.
I can blame the rain that doesn’t stop. Without the rain, I might have brought a street map, might not have gotten lost in a South Anchorage desert where people suburb along streets with berry names, and bird names, and flower names; would not have found myself going the wrong way on Arlene, circling back to a busy berry street that I had left 30 minutes ago. I might have fallen in love with Arlene if she had led me to the Campbell Creek bike trail.
It’s raining and I am heading the wrong direction on Martin Luther King Junior just before the bus leaves and, to be honest, more important to me, just before someone grabs the last Cobb salad box lunch.
It’s raining, and I’m eating Cobb salad in my dorm room, listening to Corelli, thinking about how I am going to explain my absence from the science center, writing about Arlene, Cobb salad, an empty seat on the bus, feral writers, glam rock fans lacking glamour, and, did I mention, the rain.
By 2015 fiction grads Lynn Mellor, Nick Dighera, Stephanie Smith and Dan Mickelsen
One of the first things that you notice about David Stevenson is that he has incredible hair. It’s ginger, and his thick looping curls, when kept short, create a waviness that evokes the classic look of a dapper 1940’s artist and intellectual. When asked how he keeps his hair looking perfect every day, he simply responds: genetics.
This is what you get with David. He is humble and succinct.
As the director of the Creative Writing and Literary Arts program at University of Alaska Anchorage, being succinct is a necessity. With fifteen faculty members, and around fifty students, all of whom are writers, he is essentially managing chaos. And he does it with aplomb, kindness, and an immense understanding of craft. David has been teaching creative writing for over twenty years. In addition to UAA, he has taught at the University of Utah, University of California Davis, and at Western Illinois University, where he was full professor and director of the Graduate Program in English. He was educated in the west at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington (BA '78), and the University of Utah (PhD '94).
David is also an accomplished writer in essays, short fiction, and has written a novel, Forty Crows. His recently released Letters from Chamonix received high praise and won the Banff Mountain Fiction and Poetry prize. It was also nominated for the Boardman Tasker Prize. "The Bear Outside the Door," a short story from his collection, won the Rick Bass/Montana Prize for Fiction sponsored by the Whitefish Review, and his short story, "Native," won the Boulevard Award for Emerging Writers. Next year the University of Washington Press will publish his essay collection, Warnings Against Myself: memoirs of a superstitious mountaineer. He writes often about the mountaineering experience and is a staple of the genre, both fiction and nonfiction; he has contributed to journals such as Ascent, Alpinist, Isotope,
Weber Studies, and The American Alpine Journal.
He maintains a blog, “I May Be Some Time,” at http://ddstevenson.blogspot.com/, which is not intended for a particular audience because, “Thinking about your audience, I think, is for ‘careerists’ and technical writers and undergraduates in composition courses. Thinking about your audience is not for artists, or even wannabe artists such as myself.”
“Wannabe artist”? Much like his hair, David’s writing is beautiful and nuanced. In Letters from Chamonix, climbing gear, mountain summits, hypothermia, and characters--as disparate as they are interesting--are described in loving detail that is real and vivid. Tension, conflict, ascent, and death emerge through the theme of mountain climbing in ways that push language and inspire his graduates.
For David, there are two lives: The life of the writer and everything else. At the Summer Residency in 2014, he spoke of blending these together. He states that, “…balancing between being a writer and, well, just about anything else, a caring human being who functions as smoothly as he can in the world: that’s the hard thing to balance. How do I do it? When I [do] it at all, it’s with great difficulty.” David Stevenson is, again and always, humble. Because to anyone who knows him, he makes the balance look effortless. He has been referred to as the kindest, gentlest, most understanding person to friends, faculty, and students alike. His compassion is apparent in eye contact that goes directly to the soul. Students remark on his intelligence, but in the same sentence refer to how approachable he is. In short, he cares. In a big way. His self-admitted greatest accomplishment as a teacher is his students’ work. He states, “Every summer when I say that the night of the graduating students reading is my favorite night of the year, I’m telling the truth. When those students get up on stage and read I just think, ‘Wow, we’ve all really accomplished something here.’”
David is all that you could ask for in a mentor, director, teacher, writer, and friend. He is respected, respectful, prolific, and, by the measure of his students, extremely accomplished. His appreciation of the true art of writing is pervasive. On the subjects of beauty and struggle, David said, “It’s part of the deal we all signed up for when we were born; it’s in the nature of the contract: You have X number of years, the years will end and may do so at any time. It’s up to you to give the time meaning, to use it well. [And this is] all part and parcel of the great, usually unstated, directive of the artist. The first time I read Faulkner’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (a classic artist’s manifesto) I loved it, but almost immediately was thrown into a quandary: how was Faulkner’s own writing working to embody these really lofty ideals? The answer is: indirectly and with lots of complications…Look, I probably can’t break your heart: the bar is too damned high. But, trust me, I will be trying to do it in the next, and every, thing I write.”
We all should look forward to having David crush us under the weight of such esteemed heartbreak. Because when he’s done, he’ll be the one to pick us all back up.
From our friend Zack:
Sassafras Literary Magazine is seeking submissions of poetry, prose, fiction, flash fiction, nonfiction and artworks. This online lit mag is looking for intense, clear, original and minimalistic writing. Complex and advanced styles and concepts also welcome. The magazine is looking to represent new voices, and promote new writing. Every issue is composed by mostly unknown (less known) writers. Sassafras welcomes unpublished writers. If your writing is dense, unexpected, peculiar, soft-spoken, or sharp and hard to forget, submit! No reading fee, and submissions accepted year-round. Please see the submission guidelines at: sassafrasmag.wordpress.com/submit/.
Megan McCardle answers that question and more in Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators. She thinks most writers went astray in English classes by being too good. The ability to whip through reading and writing assignments at the last minute produces the false sense that natural talent will always come through. Unfortunately, professional writers can't count on that advantage because they're competing with all of the other English whizzes, she writes:
If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good.
So the fear of producing bad work can trap writers into paralyzing procrastination and even self-handicapping--"deliberately doing things that will hamper their performance in order to give themselves an excuse for not doing well." The only reason procrastinators get any work done is that they're more afraid of not turning in anything at all.
The rest of the article explores related psychological syndromes, the role of the educational system, and the consequences for society. It's an interesting examination of the roots of failure that will give all procrastinators a reason to avoid the keyboard for just a little bit longer. . . .
Poetry mentor Zack Rogow sent in this call for submissions by MFA Students:
The Masters Review is now accepting submissions from students in graduate-level creative writing programs. MFA, MA, and PhD students are asked to submit up to 7000 words of fiction or narrative nonfiction. The deadline is March 31, 2014. Each year The Masters Review pairs with a guest judge to help select stories. This year, New York Times bestselling author and Time book critic Lev Grossman will help select stories. Chosen work will be printed for national distribution in The Masters Review’s third volume, available in October 2014. Be among the top emerging writers published this year. For full submission details see:www.mastersreview.com/submissions
Word thieves have been around since, well, words. As Ruth Graham points out,
T.S. Eliot, who relied on other sources for much of “The Waste Land” (plagiarism or allusion?), famously wrote, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”
But 2013 seemed particularly rife with examples of this literary sin, she writes for Poetry Foundation. Oddly enough, most of the poets committing the major crimes were Australians or British stealing from Americans. One reason may be that poet Ira Lightman, who has been actively looking for and publicizing acts of plagiarism, is British himself. One plagiarist was bold enough to use lines from Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath and then defend himself by calling his "new" form a "cynical experiment."
Stealing poems or lines from poems may be bad enough, but rewriting them badly is worse. Returning to T.S. Eliot, Graham observes:
Less often quoted is the next line, “Bad poets deface what they take.” This is what seems to gall many victims of plagiarists: to see their poems reprinted in weaker versions than the original.
When you're in need of soothing words to inspire or a little kicking of the posterior, check out this compendium of writers on writing, compiled by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. Reading through the collected advice from such writers as Joyce Carol Oates, E.B. White, Kurt Vonnegut, John Steinbeck, Susan Sontag and many others is like picking through a box of chocolates and eating all of the tasty ones.
Graduate Eric Larson and current CWLA writers Bree Kessler and Mary Kudenov have teamed up to offer a free workshop on urban writing on Nov. 8 at the Wolf Den in the UAA Student Center. The session begins at 9 a.m. with a breakfast panel about Mountain View and a literary reading from Mary. The interactive writing workshop starts at 10:30 with a lunch break at noon.
The workshop is the first effort of the Anchorage Neighborhood Writing Project (ANWP) and is part of ENGAGE Week: Urban in Alaska sponsored by the UAA Center for Community Engagement and Learning (CCEL). According to Eric's blog post on 49 Writers:
We are looking for collaborators across mediums to build a compendium ofAnchorage lore. We are looking for writing, photography, mapping, drawing, painting, and other modes of art. The long-term goal of ANWP is to combine writing and other media into a community atlas that tells the stories of how we live in Anchorage.
These three organizers have particular interests and expertise that make them uniquely qualified for this community project. Check out Eric's post for further detailed information about the workshop and about their backgrounds.
This unofficial site is part of the Low-Residency MFA program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. It is not officially sanctioned by any officials at the official University of Alaska Anchorage. They probably don't even know we're here. We hope.
Useful And/Or Interesting Links
Department of Creative Writing and Literary Arts
University of Alaska Anchorage
UAA Graduate School
Alaskan Writers Directory
Advice for Writers
I May Be Some Time
Ten Words You Need
to Stop Misspelling
The American Scholar
With your jokes, links,