Month: August 2016

Raquel Gutiérrez Introduction (University of Arizona ’18)

Desire as Salve: Healing and the Institution I visit the institution today for the first time. Today I make and receive my first impressions. I meet the other members of my genre cohort. I then meet the fiction and non-fiction writers. We are all orienting to the culture where we will be teaching and receiving opportunities to deepen our relationships to our genre’s craft. They are lovely, my future colleagues, my present collaborators. You have no idea. So many relationships are constituted through the institution and it’s important for me to do my part in practicing a mindful desire for kindness and vulnerability. This whole experience is predicated on my ability to produce exhibitions of vulnerability that will carry my work forward as well as inform my receptivity as a reader of my colleagues’ work. It is important to me to set these intentions and to assimilate them as a working mission statement to return to whenever I feel demoralized. For I have often been demoralized by the institutional context I have placed myself in …

How to Win Contests, and Why

So I’ve won some contests. This started at the tail end of undergrad, and has continued into the present day. In the past year, I’ve won contests at New Letters, Mid-American Review, and New Millennium Writings. I placed second at Wag’s Revue immediately before that magazine shut down forever, and placed third in Glimmer Train, which was a pretty sweet get. I’ve been a finalist often enough that I no longer remember how many times that’s happened and where. I am currently, so far as I can tell, in second readings rounds at a couple places, and will probably, G-d willing, win some more contests in the future. But I actually have some mixed feelings about contests, and this is as good a place as any to discuss those feelings. First off, what kind of work wins contests? Highly polished work, sure, and good work, yes, but I think there’s more to it than that. This summer I attended the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. We ended up discussing contests during one workshop, and our instructor, …

Wrapping Up: It’s A Start

Image: Ignacio B. Peña I wish I had more time. Invariably, this is the one consistent thought that creeps into my thoughts, time and time again. It always comes at the end of things: deadlines, holidays, relationships, courses. Times in a city you’re about to leave. I left Wellington this time last year, ready to move on and begin a new journey as a writer. But it wasn’t until I was sitting on that plane, as it started to move and the white houses set in lush green hills began to drift behind me, the plane rushing along the runway and lifting into the air, that I felt suddenly and horribly sick. As the plane took off I thought: I’m not ready to leave. At the time I thought that maybe it was some too-late epiphany dawning on me, that I was making a mistake leaving a city that had become home for me over the course of those few years; a realization in itself that hadn’t come until long after I had made the …

Devin Koch Introduction (Virginia Tech ’19)

Image: Robert MacDonald Let’s jump right out of the gate and do the all important, “Say your name and tell everyone at least one interesting fact about you.” It’s that time of year where syllabus week marks the silence of fresh students and when my mind is scattering with panic thoughts of Where is my next class at again? Does this cardigan make me look professional? and of course What is the wretched fact I’m going to tell? Fun fact: during my last semester of undergrad at the University Nebraska Lincoln I told everyone I had lived in Canada for six years of my life, specifically the Manitoba region, and moved to the state of Nebraska with my family. Let me tell you, it was a smashing hit. It also seemed fitting for me being an English major and fabricating this story of my childhood in front of my peers. For now, I’ll stick to the facts. So here we go: (Caution: some may be exaggerated for dramatic affect) Hello. My name is Devin Koch and …

Gionni Ponce Introduction (Indiana University ‘19)

Image: Joey Lax-Salinas More aptly titled: How I Failed My Way into MFA Candidacy. This fall, I’ll begin Indiana University’s creative writing MFA program in fiction. It’s a fully funded program that will cover the cost of my tuition, insurance, and provide me with a teaching stipend to pay my rent and buy food. IU’s program has consistently been ranked the Top 15 in the nation and is known for supporting a diverse student body. In short, this is a HUGE blessing that is allowing me to work towards a lifestyle I’ve wanted since I was 13. Summed up like that, as any social media post might be, it really sounds like I have my shit together, right? Whatta joke. Even as I sit on my new bed in southern Indiana, writing this post and putting off prepping for my first day of class tomorrow, I feel a sense of disconnect. How can someone who made so many mistakes still end up in such a good place? I don’t want to add to the toxicity …

Cara Summerfield Introduction (Regis University ’17)

Image credit: Prayitno I am a Southerner. I was born in New Orleans and raised by two strong Southern women who loved the letters I wrote to them from the time I was 5 years old. When living with my birth family, I experienced a high level of trauma. Life’s experiences have directed me down paths that I had never thought I would travel. For instance, in my early teens, 20s and 30s, I was strung out on drugs and alcohol. Who would have thought the tears that fell most nights would turn into the ink that dripped out of the fountain pen I used to write down my thoughts in my composition journal. I have two pens now.  One was not enough to hold all my tears. The words that scrawled across the paper would follow one another until a memoir had been written.  I have discovered that my favorite genre for writing and reading is nonfiction. Or my grandmother standing on the front porch watching me as I played with the neighborhood children, …

Introduction: Stephanie Lane Sutton (University of Miami ’19)

To realize that I was perhaps being courted by my favorite programs for the wrong reasons was strange and shocking. Then again, I had mainly applied to programs that pitched themselves as being inclusive. My application materials focused on my interest in queer poetics and feminine experiences of violence with the intent of weeding out schools that were not mutually receptive to this work. I never considered that it could have the opposite effect: that my poetry could be seen as a bullet point in a response to criticisms of hegemony within an academic writing program.