Tagged with brock clarke

Residency day 6

The seminar slots today were the conclusion of Heather Sellers’s three-part pedagogy workshop dealing this time with syllabus planning and interviewing for academic jobs. There were a number of good ideas offered up. Overall I found Heather’s seminars far more helpful than her books.

Also on the docket today was the “wildcard workshop.” The idea behind this is to give students a chance to interact with a faculty member on a sort of trial run for a future tutorial. I went with Brock Clarke even though he only teaches in the fall and thus I wouldn’t have the opportunity to work with him since I only have one more term after the upcoming term. It was more a chance to get some face time with the best known of the faculty (purely mercenary on my part). As it turns out the entirety of the attendees at the wildcard workshop were third and fourth-term students so none of us was going to be a future mentee of Brock’s.

The evening reading consisted of Don Morill reading some of his poetry and an excerpt from a memoir that will never be published, Steve Kistulentz reading from his poetry (which really blew me away and made me likely to go ahead and buy one of his books) and Heather Sellers who broke the poetry streak by skipping her own poetry and instead reading a couple excerpts from her memoir about face blindness.

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Residency day 1

And I’m back. Today I inaugurated a new tradition for the first day of the residency. Unlike past residencies, I managed to make it to the meet and greet not only on time, but a bit early. There was the usual mix of greeting the old and familiar and meeting the new and the strange. Between the meet and greet and lunch, I managed to say hello to most of my critique group. This time around, I have all of my workshop critiques finished although I am doing a pair of gratuitous critiques because, well, why not? There was a bit less open time than last term since I had to attend the seminar on the critical essay although I did get a better sense of what I needed to do this week to be ready to start. I’ve already begun work on the essay proposal, which I should get finished up early.

The evening readings were Brock Clarke and Tibor Fischer at The Oxford Exchange. But not only were no Oxfords exchanged in the course of the evening, but the beer and wine were inadvertently locked up and unavailable early on, much to the distress of many. 

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Residency day 2

And now things begin to really happen. The first agenda item was a meeting of people interested in working on Tampa Review Online, a bit disorganized in terms of planning etc., but I signed on to be a reader for fiction.

Thence to the first workshop, about which I will say nothing (what happens in workshop stays in workshop).

I had lunch at a table which was otherwise faculty, adding Nick Flynn to my list of people I’ve met who have been interviewed on Fresh Air. He enjoyed the opening paragraph of “Girls” that Josip Novakovich asked that I read.

After lunch was the first of the genre workshops, although this was less a workshop than a seminar/lecture to my mind. I’m curious to see how the faculty who will be leading the second workshop handle things and how it compares. There were a few interesting readings offered, most notably some excerpts from Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau which seems a book worth having.

At one point Mikhail Iossel said that authors repeat themselves. I almost offered up Exley and An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England as an example, but there was no opening. Probably for the best as I happened to look around the room and made eye contact with Brock Clarke.

This was followed by a seminar from Nick Flynn, entitled emotional rescue. This was the first moment that I really felt like I was learning something about improving my writing. The key takeaway here was to watch for certain red flags in our writing: exposition, abstractions and direct statements of emotion.

The evening’s reading was all Nick Flynn (again). He read selections from his memoirs and poetry, accompanied by a slideshow of semi-abstract imagery which is a nice way to add visual interest to what is otherwise a visually static experience.

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Residency day 1

Today was a largely administrative day. I overslept and missed the escort from hotel to campus, but I did manage to still arrive for the breakfast/checkin/meet and greet in the morning. This was followed by a brief orientation session and an introduction to the blackboard system that we’re to use for all of our assignments.

Fun fact revealed during orientation: Out of 46 students total, all but 15 are fiction writers. The rest are poets (8) and creative non-fiction (7). The poets look to have a lot of opportunity for individual attention in the program.

Lunch was salad and sandwiches. Not really a great selection of breads, nothing really grainy which is what I’ve grown accustomed to. There was a big block of free time in the afternoon that I dedicated to getting some reading and writing done.

Late afternoon was an introduction to the library services, then we had a reception at Plant Hall, the Moorish-style former hotel that’s the center of the University of Tampa campus. As an introvert, I found this to be about an hour too long for me to really be able to do the stand and mingle thing so I wandered off a bit to see if I could find my way to somewhere I didn’t belong.

The evening’s readings were from Maile Chapman and Brock Clarke. The reading was in theory open to the public, but I didn’t see any sign of this. Maile read a short story of hers, while Clarke read the first three chapters of a new novel he’s working on, something that sounded quite appealing and I look forward to reading it when it’s published.

Tomorrow will be a full and busy day.

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