Tagged with jennifer vanderbes

Residency day 5

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Another full day. It began with Stefan Kiesbye giving a seminar looking at blurred boundaries between fiction and CNF. I was reminded of James Tadd Adcox saying that, to him, CNF was just fiction where the protagonist had the author’s name. Kiesbye looked a number of works, talking about the controversy around the publication of Robert Coover’s The Public Burning, fake movie reviews which allow the piece to comment upon its own narrative, something otherwise only possible in a post-modern omniscient POV. We also looked at Stefan’s fake travelogue, “Vanishing Point”. He views it as an exercise in language, how we decide what’s real and what’s not. “It’s not about truth, it’s about sounding true.” He noted that when he first subscribed to The New Yorker he would start reading from the back (where the movie reviews are), and then page forward to the front. He would read pages not knowing what they belonged to but the fiction was always instantly recognizable as such (I noticed this myself while reading Jennifer Percy’s Demon Camp which I started knowing nothing more than the title, and immediately realized it was narrative non-fiction and not a novel purely by the tone of the prose). There’s something especially apropos in this since I’m currently working on a short piece which does this sort of thing.  

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After workshop and lunch, we had the first round of student seminars. I attended an excellent pair of seminars from Bradley Woodrum and Gregg WIlhelm. I’m really looking forward to what’s to come.

The final seminar of the day was Alan Michael Parker with “A book is a thing.” He focused on structuring collections of stories or poems. He defined something as literary if it caused the reader to read forward through the text but backwards through the subtext, that is reading a story will cause the reader to reinterpret the stories that came before. 

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Residency day 3

We began the day with a seminar on revision with Jennifer Vanderbes. There were some nice resonances between what she was saying about specificity and yesterday’s fiction genre workshop.

Today was my day to be workshopped, which gave me some excellent feedback on my first chapter of the novel. I’m inclined to do a complete rewrite of the chapter now, possibly deleting large pieces of it. Some of this might end up being spun off into a stand-alone story. Or perhaps I will split the chapter into two chapters.

The afternoon seminar was the return of Robert Olen Butler. More than a few of us had been put off by Butler’s tendency to regurgitate From Where You Dream to receive it very positively.

This was followed by the last of the graduating student readings. The quality of the readings continued, much to my delight.

IMG 0200The day is closing with a late-ish screening of Hal Hartley’s Trust at the Tampa Theatre. It’s a beautiful old building with most of its 1920s-era fixtures in place. It’s a great example of classic movie palace architecture with the Spanish rococo decorations surrounding the stage/screen and the theater organ on its hydraulic lift still operational. 

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Residency day 2

IMG 0104The day began with a seminar from Erika Meitner and Mary Biddinger on literary taboos. Between the reading that was assigned beforehand and the handout for the seminar there was a lot of food for thought. One student was a bit concerned about “earnest Christianity” being among the taboos so I directed him to Robert Boswell’s The Half-Known World which has a good chapter on ideology and writing fiction.

We began workshop after that and I’m looking forward to working with Jennifer Vanderbes this term. She and I seem to have a lot of common ground on process which should lead to a good relationship as I work on my thesis.

After lunch, we had out first genre workshop, today with Kevin Moffett. There were some interesting notes on writing around objects and I turned out 134 words which might stand alone as a bit of microfiction.

Then we had the first round of graduating student readings. Some really excellent stuff from our first graduating class.

The day concluded with the opening reception which featured a conversation with Robert Olen Butler, who managed to almost exactly quote his book From Where You Dream in his answers. Afterwards we adjourned to the ninth floor of the Vaughn Center for a reading from Butler and dessert.

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