Norman Mailer Colony Comes to Wilkes University
During the January Residency, Dr. Bonnie Culver, program director and co-founder announced the new partnership between the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing and the Norman Mailer Center. By partnering with the Norman Mailer Center, the Norman Mailer Writers Colony will now be permanently housed at Wilkes University.
The Mailer Center is an organization named for the late Norman Mailer that offers workshops, grants, awards, fellowships and other activities that allow writers to express themselves while provoking discussion and calling for societal changes. This new partnership bolsters the creative writing mission to bring writing faculty to the Wilkes University campus.
Lawrence Schiller, founder of the Norman Mailer Center and the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, collaborated with Norman Mailer for more than 30 years. Originally, the summer colony was held at the Mailer home in Provincetown, MA. Past instructors include faculty and board members J. Michael Lennon, Kaylie Jones, Bonnie Culver, Beverly Donofrio and Colum McCann.
"Like the Norman Mailer Center, Wilkes University encourages and celebrates writers who challenge readers' perspectives on the world around them," said Schiller. "Together, Wilkes and the Center will promote writers as people of action, and seek to support those who are driven by an endless curiosity to make sense of the times in which they live."
The 2018 Norman Mailer Writers Colony will be held in two weeklong sessions bookending The Pennsylvania Writers Conference in August. In week one, which will run from July 29 to August 3, students may take courses in memoir, fiction, publishing, poetry, nonfiction and self-promotion. In week two, which will run from August 4 to August 10, students may take courses in fiction, book reviewing, screenwriting, publishing, and poetry. On August 3 and 4, the Pennsylvania Writers Conference will be held on the Wilkes campus, featuring keynote speaker Andre Dubus III.
Week 1 Classes:
Memoir with Beverly Donofrio
Put pen to paper-or fingers to the keyboard-in this writing workshop with master memoirist Beverly Donofrio.
Discover the life-changing potential of memoir writing in a workshop designed to take you deeper into your hearts and your pasts. Instructor Beverly Donofrio creates a supportive environment to help mine and then develop your material. Telling your stories can be profound and transformative. All that is required is a strong desire and the courage to write the truth.
Through the in-class prompts, overnight assignments, and sharing our work, we not
only learn craft, but develop camaraderie and have fun. We may even find that what
made us rage and cry now makes us laugh. Keep writing and you may even forgive life
for being life.
And throughout, we will have an ongoing discussion of the writing life and how to feed it outside of a workshop.
Elements of Fiction: Crisis Conflict Character with Marita Golden
This fiction workshop will focus on the foundational elements of compelling fiction. As we discuss your in progress work, and do in-class exercises you'll learn how to give your characters "character," how to push them past the limits you impose on them and how to create characters who can both hurt and heal. For those writing novels and short fiction.
Publishing with Philip Brady
Ever wanted to start your own press or literary magazine? Or are you struggling as a fledgling editor or publisher to make yours work and gain more ground in the literary landscape? This course will also give you a hands-on insider's look at the way publishing companies work. Working with Etruscan Press, a non-profit literary press that has produced over seventy-five titles in five genres since 2001, this course will focus on how to produce and market books/journals, zines, and how to run a publishing house in an increasingly competitive environment. We'll explore editorial styles, marketing plans, production schedules, budgeting, design, and event-planning. We'll look at the publishing models from a close perspective, always returning to practical questions such as: "How do things work?"..."How can I understand the process from author-to-consumer?"... "What is the right place for me in this diverse and challenging industry?"
Poetry with Rashidah Ismail Abubakr
We will start at the beginning, with poems that have been selected by each participant to start of a book of poems. We will discuss the various concepts of producing poems: chapbook, collection, themed, with or without visuals and look at organizing tools that can lead to a coherent body of work. Poems will be edited and written then workshopped during the sessions.
Creative Nonfiction: Types and Techniques with J. Michael Lennon
Following a brief survey of the wide variety of forms that can be fairly called creative nonfiction (memoir, various essay types, travel and place writing, reviews, narrative history, autobiography, and biography), will be a discussion of five elements of craft common to all types of creative nonfiction: imagery, voice and point of view, character, setting, and story. The session will also examine the blurred boundary lines with other genres.
Marketing Planning for Writers, Online and Off: Promotion, Publicity & More with Donna Talarico
Marketing and communication planning is a crucial component to the working writer today. In this session, you'll learn the basics of building a marketing plan, from setting SMART goals to analyzing your success. Then we'll dive deeper into the many tactics you can use, from making connections with the media and brand ambassadors to get coverage -- reviews, feature stories, etc. -- to running successful events and from managing your online persona to interacting with readers in digital spaces. We'll cover everything from Facebook pages and blogging to email marketing and social ads.
This session will give you a high-level overview of the tools and techniques you can use to market your work, from promoting a single book to building general awareness for yourself as an author and expert in your field. We'll have in-class exercises to help you spark some ideas of where and how to promote your work -- no matter where you are with your project, this will be helpful in big-picture planning! Simply put: You have a great idea -- this session is about shooting that from the rooftops so others can share -- and enjoy -- your vision.
The Closer Class: A Workshop on How to Finish Your Book with Jacquelyn Mitchard
You have a great concept. You know what you want to write. You know how you want to write it. You may even have a great start. But you're afraid that you'll mess with this thing for the rest of your life and it will never see publication.
This workshop help you finally complete your fiction project - and help you discover what to do next on the path to publication, without sacrificing artistic integrity or neglecting the need to have a real life. Some critical questions about structure, contents, and even intention are key to writing a book you can actually finish. And there are some elements you may not have considered.
Bring pages to share in a full, frank, and nurturing critique with your fellow writers and be prepared to be overwhelmed by information - in a good way.
Writing Book Reviews and Breaking into that Market with Maureen Corrigan
How does one claim the cultural authority to become a book reviewer? After all, there are no dedicated graduate programs or certificates in "book reviewing;" nor is there a clear route to regular reviewing. In this course, Maureen Corrigan, who has been the book critic for the NPR program Fresh Air for thirty years, explores some of the pathways to book review publication and discusses the intellectual background and the skills that it takes to write a worthwhile review. She also gives some advice about what never to do in a book review.
Screenwriting with Ross Klavan
Screen language will go deeply into how to get your vision-and your story-onto any kind of screen. Through a variety of exercises in class and as homework, we'll begin by working through the nature of images, of film's birth in still photography (instead of the novel or theater) and what subtly changes when the images begin to move. We'll then shift into the structure of storytelling through images, both conventional and alternative, and the creation of characters whose life may begin on the page but will exist, through actors or animation, on some form of screen, large or small. A final project of a five-minute short or film segment will be written. There will be a personal meeting with the instructor on projects written in the course or previously. Proper format will be taught and the instruction will be assisted by examples from films, TV episodes and script pages.
To apply to the Norman Mailer Writers Colony at Wilkes University, please download this application. Please submit 10 pages of poetry, single-spaced, or 10-20 pages of prose or a screenplay sample, double-spaced, in the genre to which you are applying. Admission to a workshop is based primarily on your writing sample.
For more information about the Norman Mailer Center or the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, please visit nmcenter.org. For more information about the Pennsylvania Writers Conference, please visit wilkes.edu/pwc.
Students and alumni man the Wilkes-Etruscan booth at AWP18 in Tampa, FL. From left to right: Karla Erdman (M.A. student), Danie Watson (M.F.A. student), Pamela Turchin (M.F.A. student), Kristin Weller (M.A. student) and Patricia Florio (M.F.A. '11).
Smooth Sailing: Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing Attends AWP18
By Kristin Weller (M.A. student)
Henry David Thoreau once said, "We are constantly invited to be who we are." Like many writers-in-progress, I have struggled with my identity. I teach full-time. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a perfectionist. Making a living from writing alone is the road I have less traveled. While teaching is a great gig, a gift in many ways, teaching can create all kinds of conflict for the writer-self, not the least of which is getting the time off during the academic year to attend conferences like AWP.
But as with anything else in life, the choices we make and where we choose to put our time and energy are often a reflection of our priorities, and this year, I made a commitment to put my writing ahead of all else. Thanks to a one-semester sabbatical and the student registration waivers offered to Maslow Family graduate students, I was able to make-good on my self-promise and participate in AWP18 in Tampa.
The spring-like temperatures and cloudless skies of South Florida were a welcome contrast to the Pennsylvania Nor'easter I and my Wilkes colleagues left behind us. Ahead, a menu of more than 1000 panel discussions, readings, activities, signings, and keynote speeches from which to choose, all in the service of enriching the writing community. And the Book Fair! Over 800 exhibitors filled the main floor, showcasing literary presses and journals, independent publishers and freelancers, writing programs and writing residencies, poets and swag (think, free totes, buttons, pens, and big price cuts on books). Imagine the directory portion of all of your favorite writing magazines, online journals, and publishing industry books coming to life and gathering together around tables and booths in one, massive room. I'll admit that I was both overwhelmed and impressed.
After registration and a quick tour of the vendor hall, I met up with cohort member Meg Hall and my mentor, Kaylie Jones. We headed over to the Marriott across the street from the Convention Center where a few dozen meeting rooms held sessions of interest. Outside of each salon and meeting room was a full-sized poster with a list of the sessions scheduled in that room throughout the weekend. We perused the menus and ended up popping into the tail-end of a panel discussion on contemporary Southern literary fiction. The panelists were discussing the ways poverty, racism, and violence permeate their works. Following their planned discussion, the panelists opened up the floor to questions. It wasn't long before questions of culture appropriation arose.
We have all heard the advice to write what you know, but if you stick with the process of developing your craft, you will come to know that more often than not, we use writing to explore the questions we do not know the answers to. What stuck with me after listening to the open dialogue about writing outside of your race or experience was this: if you do the work -- read everything you can in the cultural genre your story requires, travel to and be with the people whose lives you want to represent with fidelity, and research your own personal biases alongside the historical events relevant to your story -- than you have less chance of creating a story that most readers will view as culturally appropriated.
I found this topic to be extremely relevant beyond the cannon of Southern fiction. In my own experience as a Maslow Family Graduate student, this topic has come up for discussion within several of the residency courses I have attended. Like it or not, through our work we all become ambassadors of our genres. Credibility is earned. Integrity, demonstrated.
After the panel ended, Meg, Kaylie and I headed outside to look for a place to eat. The Marriott and the Convention Center are part of a Riverwalk park where pedestrians and exercise enthusiasts share sidewalks and foot bridges that run along Tampa Bay. In the center is a cafe called The Sail where Kaylie, Meg and I ran into Bill Schneider and Pamela Turchin who had just flown in from Newark, NJ. After a few laughs and some catching up, we downed our burgers before splitting up to attend different sessions and man the booth. There's so much to pick from, so having a minute to peruse the registration materials was much appreciated. I found the AWP app to be an especially useful tool for adding sessions of interest and building daily agendas. Maps, room details, program descriptions, and schedules were all built-in to the app giving me easy access to necessary information quickly.
At 3:30 p.m. Kaylie and I made our way to the Book Fair floor so I could start my first shift at the Wilkes University-Etruscan Press booth. (Go ahead. Say it. You know you want to. "The (John) Wilkes Booth!" We have the best name as far as booths go.)
Maslow Family graduate students and alumni can attend AWP, registration-free if we commit to volunteering to work two hours each day in the booth at AWP. Because Wilkes is a major conference sponsor, the program receives 45-60 conference registration waivers so that our students may attend. They want us there, networking and learning from and with each other. I was a little nervous about the work, but as it turned out working in the booth was fun.
Working in the Wilkes-Etruscan Press booth was painless, even for anxiety-prone personality types like me. That's mostly because of the great and magical duo, Danie Watson and Pamela Turchin, who do most of the on-site, logistical heavy-lifting, and our Associate Director, Bill Schneider, who orchestrates the rest. Working with the Wilkes-Etruscan team was fun and at times, reminiscent of residency.
Booth required responsibilities included things like promoting the inclusion of the Norman Mailer Writing Colony at Wilkes, along with the Pennsylvania Writers Conference dates, and of course our fabulous MA/MFA programs, volunteers haggled over who was the most outgoing from our contingency (that would be Justin Kassab, Danie Watson, and Karla Erdman) and sent them off to wander the Book Fair, enticing conference-goers to sign up for the Old School Poetry Slam, which 2012 MFA graduate, Stanton Hancock, hosted on March 9th and 10th following the Keynote speakers. The rest of us remained at the booth to answer the questions of passersby.
Honestly, this task was no burden to bear. Both our programs and our presses already have a very strong reputation amongst those shopping around for an MFA program. All we needed to do was share what we love about our writing program. Easy! Two of the messages I found myself repeating to potential students were how much our fabulous faculty and our student participants value a respectful, collaborative approach, and how accessible and supportive we all are as a literary community.
Even as I was sharing these points, I was flashing back to my first residency in June of 2016 and how many times I was approached by upper-level graduate students who introduced themselves and congratulated me on entering the 501s. It happened in the dorm lobby, in the Henry Center, in the Starbucks, in the Darte before and after the evening readings. And, every faculty member made it a point to connect with each of the 18 members of my cohort over the course of those first few days - no easy task given their own packed schedules. What a difference that kind of care and attention can make, especially for a writer so wrapped up in fear, rejection, and isolation. What an antidote that kind of attention can be!
At AWP, I got the chance to spend time with my mentor who has committed her time and attention to helping me develop my work and my identity as a writer. Other faculty members, like David Poyer who I hadn't really had a chance to get to know at residencies, showed up and engaged with us too. He asked about the work I and my cohort members were doing over lunch, thus giving Meg Hall, Jeff Alves and I a chance to practice pitching. The practice, like the process, never ends. Attending AWP just verified what I had already learned about our faculty: their commitment to their students and to writing is lifelong.
Investing my time in these three, glorious, twelve-hour days at AWP Tampa as a writer participating in this community of peers has reaffirmed my commitment, not only to the completion of my term project, but also to my place in this community of writers. I belong, and that is enough.
Kristin Weller is a Pennsylvania writer, English teacher, and a graduate student at Wilkes University. Her essay, Life: What Writer and Teacher Can Tell You about Craft, was featured in Craft section of the May 2017 issue of Hippocampus Magazine. She earned a Writing Fellowship with the National Writing Project in 2000, an organization for which she has served as an Advisory Board member and teacher-consultant. When she's not grading eighth grade English papers or running her two boxer dogs around agility courses, she facilitated a local writing group called Write Nights in Nazareth, PA. She anticipates earning her Creative Writing Masters degree in 2018.
Spring into Writing: Community Workshops
Introduction to Fiction Writing
From flash fiction to full-fledged short stories, Introduction to Fiction Writing covers the basics of storytelling and the revision process. The workshop focuses on the basic elements of the genre and provides participants with a supportive environment where they can explore their literary interests and experiment with character, plot, and language. Open to beginning writers and those looking to hone their writing skills, the workshop asks participants to come with an open mind and be ready to read, write, revise, and repeat. Adult learners of any age may register for this workshop
Meetings: Tuesdays - 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. - Kirby Hall, Room 108
April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1 and 8
Cost: $65.00 for the entire series
Instructor: Francisco Tutella
Memoir: Many Ways to Tell Your Story
This class will explore writing memoir by using a variety of prompts and artifacts to mine your memories, from recipes and photos to letters, diaries and family heirlooms. Adult learners of any age may register for this workshop.
Meetings: Tuesdays - 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Breiseth Hall, Room 209
April 10, 17, 24, May 1, 8 and 15
Cost: $65.00 for the entire series
Instructor: Vicki Mayk
Preparing You and Your Manuscript for Publication
This five-week workshop is designed for adult learners who are interested in the submission process and developing the skills to enter the world of publishing. Participants will be provided an overview of how to prepare literary projects for submission to publishers. Through a variety of lectures, workshop exercises, and group discussions, participants will discover what it takes to prepare themselves - and their work - for consideration. A comprehensive look at industry standards and best practices include crafting a project synopsis, drafting a query letter, understanding the author questionnaire process, creating a thumbnail, keynote, and writing the book description. Participants do not need a completed manuscript for this workshop series.
Meetings: Wednesdays - 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Breiseth Hall, Room 211
April 11, 18, 25, May 2 and 9
Cost: $65.00 for the entire series
Instructor: Bill Schneider
Playwriting How to Write a Short One-Act or 10-Minute Play
CURTAIN UP! Have you ever imagined your story on a stage? This workshop will teach ways to write a short play in our first session. In our second session, you will hear your short play read alive and envisioned. Bring yourself and your own best characters wanting a stage to our playwriting workshop. This workshop is designed for adult learners.
Session 1: Learning how to write a play - short one-act or a 10-min play - and assignment to do so.
Session 2: Bring your assignment to workshop, and we read together, critique, and provide feedback.
Meetings: Saturdays - 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. - Kirby Hall, Room
April 21 and 28
Cost: $65.00 for the entire series
Instructor: Jan Quackenbush
Gregory Fletcher's short play Mapplethorpe's Flowers was produced by Off-Off-Broadway's Artistic New Directions during the first two weeks of March in their Eclectic Evening of Shorts XI at the Theatre 54 in New York City.
Lenore Hart and David Poyer taught at a writing retreat on Ossabaw Island from February 22-28. Lenore was the fiction instructor, presented workshops and provided one-on-one manuscript consultations, and David presented publishing workshops and spoke on a larger panel of regional editors and publishers. They both gave evening readings during the writing retreat.
Juanita Rockwell's libretto for composer Douglas Knehans' chamber opera, Backwards from Winter, will premiere at Symphony Space, NYC on May 25, presented by The Center for Contemporary Opera and directed by Jennifer Williams. This monodrama for soprano, electric cello and video, traces a woman's year with her beloved, beginning in deep winter where she is in grief over his death, backwards through the seasons to the heart-opening birth of their love in spring. Juanita's play with songs, Between Trains, was recently published by Blue Moon Plays, and she was named a VCCA Fellow with her first residency at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.
Amye Archer (M.F.A. '11) has co-edited an anthology about body image titled My Body, My Words, which was released March 15th from Big Table Publishing. Several Wilkes faculty members and alums have essays in the collection including Bev Donofrio and Kaylie Jones.
Aurora D. Bonner (M.A. '17) recently had an excerpt from her memoir published in the January/February issue of Hippocampus Magazine. One of her essays, "The Night we Ate Moussaka," will also appear in the April publication of Under the Gum Tree.
Brian Fanelli's (M.F.A. '10) essay, "Lessons on the Environment: Revisiting Robert Bly," was recently published by The Schuylkill Valley Journal. He also has three poems in the anthology, Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump's America(NYQ Books). Proceeds from the anthology benefit the National Immigration Law Center. Brian recently joined 4squarereview as a staff book reviewer.
Richard Fellinger (M.F.A. '10) published an op-ed in the Lancaster paper arguing for a better brand of national politics.
R. Anthony Giamusso's (M.A. '15) debut scifi/fantasy novel Under A Veil Of Godswas published by BHCpress/Indigo on March 8, 2018.
Tyler Grimm (M.F.A., '13) has accepted a teaching appointment in the Composition Program at University of Delaware. He has also begun writing craft columns for Hippocampus Magazine, the first of which, "Hooking Your Students, Hooking Yourself" was published in September 2017. A subsequent column published in January 2018, "The Trauma Museum" has received considerable praise.
Gerald Gurka (M.A. '07) wrote and directed The Gold Wrapping Paper, a play that was performed on Dec 24, 2017 in Larksville, Pa. His newest play Relics of the Passion, both written & directed by Gerka was performed on March 23, 2018 in Larksville, Pa. His young readers novel Freddie Foodmore's Menu of Unsavory Events will be published with Overdue Books.
Monique Antonette Lewis (M.F.A '12) has three flash fiction stories from her collection Looking for Mr. Wrong that have been published / are forthcoming in lit zines: "Shall We Dance" (Polarity eMagazine, sister publication of PoetryBay, Winter 2017) and "A Waste of Your Damn Time" and "A Mr. Right" (both forthcoming this year in American Writers Review). Her essay "How You Came to Love Me" will also be published in the anthology My Body, My Words (Big Table Publishing, March 2018).
Mark Levy (M.A. '08) has joined the Denver law firm of Block45Legal as Intellectual Property Counsel; and a book of his essays, entitled Trophy Envy, is scheduled to be published this April. The essays are transcriptions of his tri-weekly broadcasts on the public radio show, Weekend Radio with Robert Conrad.
Lori A. May (M.F.A.'13) has an essay included in an upcoming anthology, Writing Creative Writing: Essays from the Field, scheduled for May 2018 publication with Dundurn Press. Her first novel, The Profiler (2005), has been reissued in Australia with publisher Mills and Boon. This spring, Lori is speaking and reading at events throughout Washington, California, and Nevada.
Michael Nixon (M.A. '15) had a chapter from his memoir, a work (still in progress) that was his thesis project, published in the January/February issue of Hippocampus Magazine. The piece was also a semi-finalist in their "Remember in November" competition.
Christoph Paul's (M.F.A. '17) press CLASH Books recently put out the poetry collection If You Died Tomorrow I would Eat Your Corpse, the anthology for pre-order Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey and Sylvia Plath, and the pre-order for the magazine CLASH Magazine: Issue #1. CLASH Books had a table again at AWP 2018 and had an offsite reading. As an author, his book A Confederacy of Hot Dogs was featured in Powell's small press section, he sold a story to the anti-fascist anthology Engage! forthcoming from King Shot Press, and found a home for his poetry collection At Least I Get You < In My Art with Rooster Republic Press which is to be published in the summer of 2018.
Sara Shalom Scharrer's (M.A. '15) short story "Means of Escape" was published on January 24 in STORGY online magazine.
C.A. Smith (M.A. '11) released her first book LongNeck Bottles under the pseudonym Phoenix Ash. She also has a podcast called "Life As P" that is available via iTunes, Google Play and iHeart Radio.