|James Craig came to Wilkes to study playwriting, but majored in fiction and wrote
mystery novels as well as plays.
A familiar presence at almost every residency, James Craig, M.A. '10, died unexpectedly July 30. He was 69.
A self-described "recovering advertising man," Jim Craig spent 14 years teaching middle school English and social studies in the Ephrata School District after leaving the advertising world. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Sandra of Lancaster, Pa.; sons Ryan of Lancaster and Jared of Millersville, Pa.; his sister Karen Craig of Cleveland, Ohio; and one granddaughter.
"Jim had the soul of a writer, a teacher, and a friend," said Todd McClimans, M.A. '12. "He always had an encouraging word for others and loved to share his gifts with the world."
"Jim came to the Wilkes Creative Writing Program to write plays," said Program Director Bonnie Culver, and several of his plays were produced while he attended Wilkes, but he chose to major in fiction instead. He came back each January and June, to catch up with members of his cohort, other alums, staff and faculty.
Blue Lines Up in Arms (Sunbury Press, 2015)
Faculty member Jean Klein said Jim was "one of the brightest lights in the playwriting foundations course." Klein said she waved to him across the cafeteria in June, but he didn't see her. "I thought, 'Okay, catch you later, Jim,'" Klein said. "But somehow I didn't. Not that time. I look forward to it one day and hearing the new stories [he will] have to tell."
Jennifer Bokal, M.F.A. '10, recalls catching up over lunch at the program's 10th anniversary celebration. "Every few minutes our conversation ceased. It wasn't that we lacked something to say. It was because someone new had stopped by to say hi to Jim. To each and every person, Jim had a smile, a handshake or a hug. He was as excited to learn of the successes of others as he was to share his own."
His mystery novel, Blue Lines Up in Arms (Sunbury Press, 2015), launched last fall at Barnes & Noble in Wilkes-Barre, in cooperation with the Penguins hockey team—its protagonist is an ex-hockey player from Wilkes-Barre. Lawrence Knorr, Sunbury's president and CEO, described Jim as "completely in as an author," traveling to minor-league hockey rinks, street fairs and bookstores around Pennsylvania to promote his work.
Funeral services were held Aug. 3 in Millersville. Memorial contributions may be made to the children's ministries at Grace Community Church, 212 Peach Bottom Rd., Willow Street PA 17584. Online condolences may be left at the Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home's website.
Lisa Greim is working on her M.A. degree in creative writing from Wilkes University. She is a journalist in Denver.
Lenore Hart (left) and Dania Ramos (right) listen to Todd McClimans during the PWC panel "The World of Between: Writing for Middle Grade Readers in the 21st Century"
The annual Pennsylvania Writers Conference Aug 5-6 attracted 124 attendees to the Open Mic, Poetry Slam and all-day conference. Maureen Corrigan, from NPR's Fresh Air, delivered the opening plenary session, noting how dedicated folks were to the literary world. "Why else would you be in the Darte on a Saturday morning?" Corrigan asked the crowd.
Wilkes Provost Anne Skleder opened the evening event by affirming the University's and President Leahy's commitment to the arts to a round of applause. Jay Parini closed the conference with a heartfelt keynote that expanded on his life, writing career, dual citizenship, invitation to a dinner at the White House, and the pride he continues to feel as "a Pennsylvania writer."
Barbara Taylor (left) and Chris Campion (right) listen to Cheryl Bazzoui (center) during the Pennsylvania Fiction writers panel at PWC
Wilkes alums and students were well-represented among the winners of both the Open Mic/Poetry Slam on Friday night, hosted by alum and former slam star Laura Moran, and the three-genre Writing Competition announced on Saturday.
PWC Open Mic/Poetry Slam
(Left to right) Lenore Hart, J. Michael Lennon, and Kaylie Jones during the PWC "Publishing Pathways" panel
Laura Moran hosts the PWC Open Mic and Poetry Slam
Host: Laura Moran (M.F.A. '12)
- First Place – $150 Award: Gale Martin (M.F.A. '10)
- Second Place – $100 Award: Robert Fillman
- Third Place – $50 Award: Ginger Marcinkowski (M.F.A. '11)
- First Place – $150 Award: Lauren Gonsalves
- Second Place – $100 Award: Stephen Taren
- Third Place – $50 Award: Richard Aston
PWC Writing Competition: Creative Nonfiction
Judge: Dr. J. Michael Lennon of the Wilkes faculty, who said, "All show talent and narrative sophistication."
- First Place – $150 Award - "Last Supper" – Aurora Bonner (M.A. student)
- Second Place – $100 Award: "American Buffalo" – W. Y. Fellenberg
- Third Place – $50 Award: "Their Man" – Anne Henry (M.F.A. '11)
Judge: Dr. Phil Brady (Wilkes faculty, Etruscan Press Executive Editor)
- First Place – $150 Award: Robert Fillman
- Second Place – $100 Award: W. Y. Fellenberg
- Third Place – $50 Award: Eric Chiles
Judge: Barbara J. Taylor (M.F.A.'15)
- First Place – $150 Award: "Automation" – Olivia Smialek
- Second Place – $100 Award: "An End to War" – Anne Henry (M.F.A. '11)
- Third Place – $50 Award: "Redemption" – Janine Dubik (M.A. student)
Save the date for PWC17: Aug. 4-6, 2017 at Wilkes University.
2016 PA Writers Conference Winners:
by Pamela Turchin
As a Wilkes creative writing student and a teacher, I feel not just the the tight-knit sense of community among faculty and students, but also how alums return this gift by promoting writing and reading in their own communities.
I have been thinking about asking my old high school if they will let me volunteer to teach an after-school creative writing program. I remember how much I wished we had an opportunity like that when I was a student there.
This idea led me to the PWC panel "Beyond Putting Words on the Page: Hosting a Reading Series and Teaching in Community Spaces" with Wilkes faculty member Christine Gelineau and M.F.A. graduates Dawn Leas ('09), Brian Fanelli ('10) and Patricia Florio ('11).
Fanelli and Leas host opportunities for writers to participate in open mic events through the Writer's Showcase at the Old Brick Theatre in Scranton. Florio co-founded the Jersey Shore Writers, and organizes writing events at the Jersey Shore Arts Center, both in Ocean Grove, N.J.
The panel members shared their experiences, while offering valuable practical advice:
- Establish ties with community members who are vested in supporting the arts, which can lead to finding affordable, and sometimes even free, local venues for a reading series or writing workshop.
- Start small. Once you have formed a steady group that meets on a regular basis, begin thinking about inviting outside published writers to read their work at your events.
- Don't be afraid to approach your local library about teaching a writing workshop. Most libraries are thrilled to hear from writers seeking this kind of opportunity. Workshops that are open to the public give people a chance to write their stories and share them. Teaching a three- to five-week workshop is the norm.
- Although it is important to be a good literary citizen, be careful not to over-commit to giving back to your community, so much that you begin to neglect your own writing.
These writers inspired me by creating their own writing spaces to share with others. They convinced me that someday I can do the same.
Pamela Turchin, a Northeastern Pennsylvania native, is a graduate assistant pursuing her M.A. degree in Creative Writing from Wilkes University.
The 14th annual Norman Mailer Society Conference will be held at Monmouth University, Long Branch, N.J. from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2. Mailer was the first founding advisory board member of the Wilkes University Creative Writing Program, and students and faculty from the CW program have read and performed his work for the last 13 years as part of the Wilkes U Readers Theatre. This year faculty, alums and students will read from his unpublished novel No Percentages.
The conference will open Thursday evening with a workshop production of Norris: A Ticket to the Circus, a one-woman show written by Bonnie Culver, based on Norris Church Mailer's memoir. K.C. Lieber, a New York City-based actress, will read the role. The performance will be in the Wilson Hall auditorium on the Monmouth University campus, beginning at 8 p.m. The reading is open to the public.
Faculty, alums, and current students participating in either the readers theatre or giving papers this year include: Bonnie Culver, Nicole DePolo, Matthew Hinton, Kaylie Jones, Michael Mailer, Caleb Sizemore, Hillary Transue, and Ken Vose. Dr. J. Michael Lennon is the organizer of the conference and the current president of the Norman Mailer Society.
Once again this fall, seven non-credit community workshops will be offered on the Wilkes University campus, taught by Wilkes faculty and M.F.A. alums. The cost of each workshop is $65. Advance registration for all of the fall workshops is available at wilkes.augusoft.net. We welcome your help to support and stimulate interest in our writing community. Word of mouth is our best referral source, so please share the news with anyone interested in the writer's craft.
Screenwriting – Basics and Format
Throughout this six-week workshop, participants will learn the proper format for a screenplay and why that format is used. They will engage in exercises designed to progressively develop a more succinct writing style for the movie script page. Participants will develop a story idea, and transform that idea into a beat sheet that will aid in completing five to 10 pages of a first draft.
- Meetings: Mondays 6 – 8 p.m. – Breiseth 108
- Sept. 12, 19, 26, Oct. 3, 10, 17
- Cost: $65 for the entire series
- Instructor: Draper Brown
Learn the basic elements of writing a play while learning the formatting rules and conventions of theatre. Each student will complete a 10- to 15-minute play. All plays will have formal staged readings in the last week of class, where playwrights will be guided through the entire process of writing a play and hearing their play read by actors.
- Meetings: Tuesdays 6 – 8 p.m. – Kirby 108 (except on Oct. 4, which will be held in Dr. Harold Cox Hall – 245 S. River St.)
- Sept. 20, 27, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25
- Cost: $65 for the entire series
- Instructor: Dr. Bonnie Culver
Creative Nonfiction – Writing Memoir
The late author William Zinsser said, "Writers are the custodians of memory." In this non-credit workshop, participants will learn the basics of crafting memoir. Through in-class exercises and weekly assignments, students will learn the foundations of memoir—one of today's most popular forms of non-fiction writing. Ways to structure and approach a book-length work also will be explored. Issues of truth-telling and the challenges of memory also will be discussed. The instructor will address attendees' individual projects, allowing both beginning and more advanced writers to participate at their own level.
- Meetings: Wednesdays 6 – 8 p.m. – Kirby 108
- Sept. 21, 28, Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26
- Cost: $65 for the entire series
- Instructor: Vicki Mayk
This workshop will focus on two main elements of creating a poem: crafting the poem and reading poets. There will be a balance between writing new poems, critiquing old poems in a workshop format and discussing poets, their poems, as ways of enhancing individual skills and information. Our goal is to have a completed collection of poems that may be the beginning of a future chapbook and further studies.
- Meetings: Wednesdays 6 – 8 p.m. – Kirby 103
- Sept. 21, 28, Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26
- Cost: $65 for the entire series
- Instructor: Dr. Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr
Intro to Screenwriting (Tools and Techniques)
This six-week workshop will explore writing for the big screen. We'll examine the tools and techniques screenwriters use to tell effective stories. We'll cover screenplay genre, formatting and structure. Students will write a short or begin a feature-length screenplay. We'll work on pieces together during class and have table reads of each work during the final session.
- Meetings: Thursdays 6 – 8 p.m. – Kirby 108
- Sept. 15, 22, 29, Oct. 6, 20, 27 (No meeting Oct. 13)
- Cost: $65 for the entire series
- Instructor: Kelly Clisham
The workshop will cover the foundations of fiction writing and include in-class writing exercises and group workshops to give both beginning and established writers opportunities to expand their knowledge of the writing craft and enhance their skills. In-class workshops of students' writing are designed to provide honest feedback in a casual, supportive, and respectful environment. Participants will be expected to share their work aloud and offer insightful comments on how to improve their peers' work.
- Meetings: Fridays 6 – 8 p.m. – Kirby 108 (except on September 30, held in Farley Library LL-002)
- Sept. 16, 23, 30, Oct. 7, 21, 28 (No meeting Oct. 14)
- Cost: $65 for the entire series
- Instructors: Alyssa Waugh and Robert Antinozzi
Writing the YA Novel
In this intensive five-week workshop, students will learn the components of a YA novel while building an outline. Class will include a combination of lecture, discussion and critiquing. To conclude the class, students will receive a brief overview of publishing opportunities available for those interested in shopping their novel after it's completed.
- Meetings: Saturdays 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Kirby 108 (except Oct. 1: Farley Library LL-002)
- Sept. 17, 24, Oct. 1, 8, 15
- Cost: $65 for the entire series
- Instructor: Nisha Sharma
Wilkes and Etruscan Press will have a robust list of presenters at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs' 50th annual conference, which takes place Feb. 8-11, 2017, at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center and Washington Marriott Marquis Hotel.
Current students are invited to apply for an AWP17 registration waiver, which covers the cost of conference registration; housing will be provided for graduate assistants, interns, and staff working at AWP. Transportation will be at your expense. Contact Associate Director Bill Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org before Thursday, Sept. 15 to reserve a registration waiver.
(Left - right) Tim Seibles and Laurie Jean Cannady
In exchange for your waiver, you will be required to spend a minimum of two hours each day on the convention floor, working in the Wilkes/Etruscan booth. The Bookfair is a great opportunity to meet authors and publishers, and network with other graduate students, writers and industry professionals from all over the world. You will promote the Wilkes Creative Writing Program to potential students and faculty, host Etruscan Press book signings, and provide a positive presence to the literary community. Your registration gives you access to the full schedule of workshops, readings, keynotes and social events.
Wilkes alums and faculty appearing at AWP17 include:
- Laurie Jean Cannady (faculty, Etruscan author): Two sessions, But That's Not How It Was: Memoir Writers on Pushing Back Against Expected Narratives and Celebrating the Hurston/Wright Foundation: Twenty-Seven Years of Literary Legacy
- Jason Carney (M.F.A. '13): Hosting the Old School Slam on both Thursday and Friday, Feb. 9 and 10
- Morowa Yejidé (M.F.A. '12): Two sessions, Come Firewalk With Me: The Black Mind and A Reading and Conversation from Paycock Press
- Viannah Duncan (M.F.A. '10): Gender and Genre: How Do Our Prejudices Affect Our Preferences?
- Donna Talarico (M.F.A. '10): Starting Small: Grassroots Workshops and Conferences
- Susan Cartsonis (faculty): The Hollywood Equation: Combining Community and Mentorship to Take Control of Your Screenwriting Career
- Jim Warner (M.F.A. '09): Variations on Audionarrative: The Next Wave of Literary Podcasting
- Jean Klein, Gregory Fletcher (faculty), Lori Myers (M.A. '09): Why Every Writer Should Construct at Least One Play
- Nisha Sharma (M.F.A. '14): Writing the South Asian Diaspora in Young Adult Fiction
- Kaylie Jones (faculty), Barb Taylor (M.F.A. '15), Laurie Loewenstein (faculty): Kaylie Jones Books: A Reading
- Dr. Bonnie Culver, as chair of the AWP Board of Trustees, will be a conference host.
Etruscan Press authors and contributors at AWP17 include:
- Remica Bingham-Risher, Tim Seibles (advisory board): Beyond Sex: The Poetics of Desire
- Paul Lisicky: Looking Outward: Avoiding the Conventional Memoir
- Jeremy Schraffenberger: Old Journals, New Writing: Editors on History and Discovery
- Julie R. Enszer: Recovering Out of Print Queer Literature
- Diane Thiel: The Influence of Introductory Creative Writing Textbooks
- Bonnie Friedman: Tips and Tricks from the Trenches: Lit Mag Editors Share Funding, Staffing, and Operational Strategies for Survival and Compassion Fatigue: Avoiding Vicarious Traumatization in the CNF Classroom
- Kazim Ali: Two sessions, Translating Contemporary African Poetry and Dance and Movement and Meditation as Part of the Writing Process
- Shara McCallum: Women and their Bodies
Beverly Donofrio appears in the anthology, "How Does That Make You Feel?"
Carrie Pilby, produced by Susan Cartsonis, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Directed by Susan Johnson, the film stars Bel Powley, Nathan Lane, Vanessa Bayer and Gabriel Byrne. On Aug. 8, Cartsonis completed production on Deidra and Laney Rob a Train in Salt Lake City. Directed by Sydney Freeland, it will be released as a Netflix Original Movie in spring 2017. Cartsonis also produced Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, which opens in theaters Oct. 7. Directed by Steve Carr, the film stars Lauren Graham.
Bonnie Culver's one-woman show, Norris: A Ticket to the Circus, was given an invitation-only staged reading at the Drama Book Shop's Arthur Seelen Theatre on June 14. A workshop production of the play will be given at the Mailer Conference Sept. 29 at Monmouth University.
"My Serial Therapists," an essay by Beverly Donofrio, appears in the anthology, How Does That Make You Feel?, a shockingly honest look at the therapeutic experience from both sides of the couch. It will be released in September by Seal Press, with readings in New York City and vicinity in September and October, listed on the book's website and Facebook page.
Gregory Fletcher published an essay, manhood / ˈmanˌho͝od / noun, in Longridge Review, Creative Nonfiction #4, edited by Elizabeth Gaucher. He interviewed Arthur Kopit for A Conversation Between Two Playwrights, which appeared in the Jerome Robbins Foundation newsletter (volume 3, no. 1), edited by Gregory Victor.
Faculty member Sara Pritchard's "Bell Bottom Blues" was published in the Spring 2016 issue of Crossborder Journal. "Notes on Rudolph Nureyev's Hat" is forthcoming in The Cossack Review. Sara was the judge for the recent Leapfrog Press book prize and The Cossack Review story prize. She will be reading in Richmond, Va., on Sept. 17, at the launch of At the Inkwell's newest venue.
Amye Archer (M.F.A. '12) had a craft article, "Writing the Truth in Memoir," published in Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction. Amye was also the guest speaker for the National Association of Memoir Writers' Public Roundtable Series in June.
M.F.A. student Molly Barari has developed a new creative writing course for senior citizens in collaboration with Agape Spiritual Center of the Black Hills in Rapid City, S.D. The course, titled Thus Far, focuses on obituary writing as seniors make end-of-life preparations.
M.A. student Melody Breyer-Grell published a review of Dr. Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr's Autobiography of the Lower East Side in the Huffington Post.
Chris Campion (M.A '13) recently published an article titled "Don't Chase Belts, Chase Experiences" on JiuJitsuTimes.com and spoke at the Pennsylvania Writers Conference on the challenges of writing a novel based in Pennsylvania.
Jason Carney's (M.F.A. '13) nonprofit, Young DFW Writers, starts its third year with 16 high schools participating in Louder than a Bomb DFW. Its civic engagement focus for this year will be domestic violence and other forms of violence, partnering with the North Texas Food Bank and the Genesis Women's Shelter to give students space to turn the poet into an activist and their art into activism. Young DFW Writers will hold the largest youth poetry festival in Texas this year. Carney will be lecturing at the University of Arkansas Sept. 20 and Drake University Oct. 5.
M.F.A. student Gabrielle D'Amico had her screenplay, Plan B, selected as a semifinalist for the 2016 CineStory Feature & Fellowship Competition, earning her an invitation to the CineStory retreat in Idyllwild, Calif., this October.
Brian Fanelli's (M.F.A. '10) new collection of poems, Waiting for the Dead to Speak, will be published in September with NYQ Books.
A personal essay by D Ferrara (M.A. '13) will appear in The Storyteller Magazine's anthology. The essay, "The Tyranny of Memory," is a whimsical look at how our memory tricks and traps us.
Patricia Florio (M.F.A. '11) introduced the Jersey Shore Writers to a new open mic series at Danny's Steak House in Red Bank, N.J., reading from her first memoir, My Two Mothers. On Sept. 25, alums Barb Taylor and Brian Fanelli will read from their new books at the Jersey Shore Arts Center.
(Left - right) London Co-hosts Patricia Foster, Gemma Weekes and Rachel Rigby and founder Monique Antonette Lewis
Tara Lynn Marta
In June, M.A. student Lisa Greim's story, "Charley Says Good Morning," was among 10 prose pieces selected for a juried workshop taught by Steve Almond at Lighthouse Writers Workshop's annual LitFest conference in Denver.
Monique Antonette Lewis (M.F.A. '12) launched her reading series, At The Inkwell, in London on July 21. The reading, "A Tribute to Prince and David Bowie," attracted a standing crowd. The London series will be held every third Thursday at Counter Albion. She also formed a partnership with the Visual Arts Center of Richmond to host quarterly fiction and poetry readings and writing workshops, launching Saturday, Sept. 17.
Ginger Marcinkowski (M.F.A. '12) presented a writing workshop Aug. 6 at the Pennsylvania Writers Conference and will teach three classes about writing for the Christian market at the Hampton Roads Writers Conference in Norfolk, Va., Sept. 15-17.
M.A. student Tara Lynn Marta's short story, "Beyond the Gates," was published last March in The Gorge, online publication in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Another short story, "A Writer's Life" will be published by Aaduna in August.
Lori A. May (M.F.A. '13) has accepted a position on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP). She will present a session at the first annual Creative Writing Studies Organization conference this fall at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. Lori was recently a guest speaker at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference, and will speak this fall at a number of writing festivals, including the Surrey International Writers' Conference in British Columbia, and BinderCon in New York City. Lori is currently finalizing edits on a new book, with more details to come soon.
Vicki Mayk (M.F.A. '13) published "Writing Grief: A Memoir Workshop in a Hospice Bereavement Program" in Chrysalis, a journal of transformative language arts, published by Goddard University. The article discusses the workshop she developed as part of her M.F.A. teaching project.
Danielle Poupore (M.F.A. '13) has accepted a new job at Coker College as director of institutional identity.
The literary non-profit Seersucker Live: A Literary Performance, of which Joseph Schwartzburt (M.F.A.'13) is a board member, will present The Tin Curtain Episode, featuring Tin House managing editor, Rob Spillman, author of the new memoir All Tomorrow's Parties. The event will also feature authors Julia Elliott (The New and Improved Romie Futch) and Regina Bradley (Armstrong State professor and 2016 Harvard Hiphop Fellow). The event takes place Aug. 31 in Savannah, Ga.
Douglas Troxell's (M.A. '14) story "Snow Day" was the featured story in Flash Fiction Magazine July 29. His short story "Epidemic" will appear in the short story collection Infected in the fall. You can visit his new website at douglasjamestroxell.com.