The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College
Public Schedule – Winter 2010
The public is welcome to attend the morning lectures and evening readings in fiction and poetry offered during the Master of Fine Arts Program for Writers’ winter residency. Events last approximately one hour. Admission is free. The schedule is subject to change.For more information, call the MFA Office: (828) 771-3715.
by MFA Program faculty and graduating students
Readings will begin at 8:15pm in the Fellowship Hall behind the Chapel unless indicated otherwise.
Saturday, January 2, 8:00pm – in Gladfelter, Canon Lounge: Dean Bakopoulos
, Mary Leader
, Anthony Doerr
, Ellen Bryant Voigt
Sunday, January 3 – in Gladfelter, Canon Lounge: C.J. Hribal
, Marianne Boruch
, Alix Ohlin
, Maurice Manning
Monday, January 4: David Haynes
, Martha Rhodes
, Dominic Smith
, Eleanor Wilner
Tuesday, January 5: Debra Spark
, Rick Barot
, Megan Staffel
, Stephen Dobyns
Wednesday, January 6: Karen Brennan
, Jennifer Grotz
, Liam Callanan
, James Longenbach
, Kevin McIlvoy
Thursday, January 7 – 5:30 p.m.: Reading at Malaprop’s, 55 Haywood Street, Asheville.
Friday, January 8: Debra Allbery
, Stacey D’Erasmo
, Gabrielle Calvocoressi
, Sarah Stone
, Brooks Haxton
Saturday, January 9: Graduating student readings: Rebecca Foust, Reine Marie Melvin, Hilary Varner, Robert Rorke
Sunday, January 10 – in Gladfelter, Canon Lounge: Graduating student readings: Aaron de Long, Chi Elliott, Hadley Moore, Rose McLarney.
Monday, January 11 – 4:30pm, followed by Graduation Ceremony: Graduating student readings: Elisabeth Lewis Corley, Aneesha Capur, Nora Hutton Shepard, Paul Rankin
Faculty Lectures – Winter 2010
The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College
Sunday, January 3 JAMES LONGENBACH
11:15 a.m. - Gladfelter, Canon Lounge The Sound of Shakespeare Thinking
Ultimately, this lecture will focus on a novel by Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway) and a recent poem by Louise Glück (“Before the Storm,” from A Village Life). The central question addressed by the lecture is this: How do we represent the process of thinking in language?
This is a tricky question, for as Freud reminds us, thinking is a pre-conscious activity; once we’re aware of it, it’s already something else. This means that we’ve come to imagine that we know what thinking is because we’ve read earlier representations of thinking, and no writer is more responsible for shaping our notion of what thinking is than Shakespeare. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Shakespeare is the inventor of thinking in the English language, and the lecture will trace his invention through passages of his verse and prose before turning to Woolf and Glück.
Monday, January 4 STEPHEN DOBYNS
: A Sense of Space
The lecture will look at the beginning of a short story by Henry James, “The Middle Years,” and Yeats’ poem “Her Praise” to show ways that writers can use syntax, sentence length, sound and rhythm to expand the possibilities of meaning.
Tuesday, January 5 SARAH STONE
: Taking Sides: Structural Conflict
Our contemporary aesthetic generally trains writers towards empathy, away from moral judgment; towards an immaculate surface of vivid detail, away from abstraction and interpretation; towards fairness to all characters, away from taking sides, in either personal or political matters. And hooray for empathy, fairness, vivid detail…and yet, and yet – what about when we really do wish to interpret, and even take sides, whether personal or political? Fiction and poetry need not take the Chekhovian stance of the objective observer: structural conflicts, mythic resonances, and formal juxtapositions can create wild narratives, both intimate and grand.
Texts to be discussed: Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman; Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honorable Defeat; Anne Carson, The Autobiography of Red.
Wednesday, January 6 MARY LEADER
: Defiance and Pleasure in Visual Writing
Literary art works, we are told, primarily by sound and meaning, and those two, moreover, are inevitably linked. Any visual function of writing is relegated to a distant third place, very distant, so distant as to be diminished almost to nothing. It’s as if the “ear” writers are right-handed and the “eye” writers are left-handed and the former are telling the latter, you’re writing with the wrong hand. Or at the very least, with a not very important hand. This class will take up, not ekphrasis, but the vital manipulation of black and white on the page itself. It will encompass examples from visual-verbal history, contemporary examples, mainly poetry but also prose, and a theory that places visual writing on the distaff side.
Wednesday, January 6 DEAN BAKOPOULOS
: The Waiting is the Hardest Part:Dead Air, Denial, & Duende
Climactic events tend to drive plot in fiction (and other narrative forms), but characters truly come alive in the dead air, the restless time between life-changing events. In this lecture, we’ll explore the act of waiting as a dramatic device, particularly the tension that arises when characters are anticipating a situation or an epiphany which they’d rather avoid. We’ll also explore how moments of “dead air” can and should be moments of lyrical transcendence, the “deep songs” that Lorca described as duende.
Sunday, January 10 MARIANNE BORUCH
: The Little Death of Self
9:30am - Jensen Lecture Hall
Imagine the Hindenburg—that amazing German dirigible—blowing up in 1937. No, don’t imagine it. This lecture begins with that disaster still in progress, on film, so you can hear for yourself how the young reporter on the scene that day in New Jersey shows us something mysterious and crucial about poetry. How he says what he says makes shape, and keeps that moment alive.
Meanwhile, the self, the voice of the self, real or imagined, visible or not exactly and traditionally the key to lyric poetry, is under attack these days. This lecture is wayward but it orbits that notion. “I want to kill the I in my poem,” I overheard at a party shortly before it turned into an urgent and worrisome question. In route, we will consider poems by Lucia Perillo, Dickinson, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Plath, Frost, bits from Beowulf and even earlier Anglo-Saxon texts, a little something from Keats, and the composer John Corrigliano thrown in for good measure. And a few thoughts from the cadaver lab I audited a year ago.
Sunday, January 10 ANTHONY DOERR
: Suspense: Shower-Murders, the Sword of Damocles & Shooting People on the Beach
10:45 a.m. - Jensen Lecture Hall
Suspense is, literally, the temporary cessation of something. Have you ever wondered if disruptions sometimes enhance our enjoyment of pleasurable activities? Did you know an experiment has found that interruptions in massages actually heighten people’s enjoyment of them? And another showed that TV commercials might actually intensify people’s gratification during shows? Here the world’s least accomplished suspense writer will try to ask some questions about suspense and how we reveal information to our readers. Along with a few other texts, and the narrative arc of sports games, we’ll look closely at a few pages of Camus’ The Stranger.
Monday, January 11 C.J. HRIBAL
: Please Release Me:Revelatory Information and the Art of Mystery
In every narrative we have to decide what to include, what to omit, and why. Decisions about when to reveal information sometimes get less attention, but can make the difference between a story that’s semi-interesting versus one that is authoritative and captivating. We’ll look at a number of narratives that make effective use of tension, suspense, and mystery in terms of how and when information is revealed within the narrative. No advance reading required, though students might want to consider when important information is revealed within their own narratives, and why it happens when it does. .
Monday, January 11 MAURICE MANNING
: Blue Yodel #9: Lyricism, Landscape, and the Inner Voice
This lecture will seek to define and examine lyricism, particularly as it punctuates a narrative context. We’ll consider issues inherent to the lyric mode, namely, voice, imagery, and syntax. Through a discussion of some prose and several poems, I’ll hope to demonstrate how landscape prompts and modulates lyricism. Reference will be made to Milton’s twin poems “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso,” a short story by John Berryman called “Wash Far Away,” a couple of poems by Coleridge, one by Yeats, one by Roethke, James Agee’s novel A Death in the Family, and a few poems by the Welshman R.S. Thomas. This lecture will involve some singing and possibly a brief square dance demonstration. Re-acquaintance with Milton might be useful; otherwise, handouts will be provided.