Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, ed., Books and Culture. / New at patreon.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hollins & Shared Worlds & more

August has come around, and I am at last home again for more than a few days--though I still have a second college run to do. I have been slipping around the East Coast all summer and will be glad to sit still when that's done.

During July I had a splendid time being Writer-in-Residence for the Hollins MFA program in children's literature--critiqued more than thirty manuscripts for one-on-one meetings and read fourteen more for classes. I met lovely writers of all ages, did a talk/reading, visited classes, went to events, and am now chatting with Ruth Sanderson about doing a book with her. That's her "Papa Gatto" in the illustration.

The MFA/MA program is under the capable direction of writer Amanda Cockrell, and I was impressed with how she and the other writers there manage to go full tilt for six weeks. Those I met on this year's staff were Candice Ransom, Hillary Homzie, Nancy Ruth Patterson, Alexandra LeFaye, William (Chip) Miller, Nancy Ruth Patterson, Chip Sullivan, Joseph Thomas, and the already-mentioned Ruth Sanderson. I also managed to slip in visits (and meals! I got hungry for home-cooked meals) with Hollins writers Richard Dillard and Jeanne Larsen (and her sweet husband Tom Mesner) and painter Nancy Dahlstrom.

Afterward I made quick trips to Chapel Hill and Cullowhee to see old friends and my mother. Bookish highlights were going to lunch with Louis Rubin and Elizabeth Spencer (who had just turned 89) and a dinner with painter Laura Frankstone and poet Jeffery Beam and their respective partners.

At the end of July I went to Spartanburg and Wofford College to work at Shared Worlds, the weird worldbuilding brainchild of Jeremy L. C. Jones. Novelist Jeff Vandermeer, who is in cahoots with Jeremy over the program, invited me last year. I got to see Jer (oddly, we had already had lunch in Cooperstown) in action and meet writer Michael Bishop and writer and game designer Will Hindmarch. By the time Mike and I arrived, the students had already built their fantastic worlds and designed creatures and more--we were fated to stay up very, very late critiquing their short stories. We also gave talks and then did a reading with Will: splendid fun. And that doesn't even mention all the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at various spots around Wofford College. Jeremy is a good host!

And I was also able to visit my parasailing Aunt Myra, now 93 and still sparkling despite all the challenges of age. I admire her.

Latest travels: my daughter has now been deposited at Bard College. As she has just called to remind me to order that computer, I shall go now--hoping that your summer travels or non-travels have been fruitful and happy.

10 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting and stimulating! I'm glad you're getting these gigs. Good to keep busy. I can't really imagine the Shared Worlds thing from what you say. I want to learn more about it.

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  2. It's a sort of multimedia event--during the first week it's all about worldbuilding and cooperating in creating. Drawings and writings and lists abound--I've never been there for that week, so all I know is what I saw lying about from the first week. During the second week stories are finished, revised, and turned in for intensive critiquing. And much fun is had!

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  3. Shared Worlds sounds like a blast. What an exciting forum to be a part of. And the socialising wouldn't be at all bad either, though I'm sure you're glad to be home and back to your own work again.

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  4. One of the most interesting things about it is how the thing started--Jeremy was teaching in a private school and was asked to help with some kids who weren't blending well. So he started reading fantasy and science fiction with them during lunch. That turned into a big group and then a class and then into Shared Worlds.

    Like your Jack-in-a-basket profile picture!

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  5. Sounds wonderful. It could be important work if anyone with the power to put it into action paid attention. Big if.

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  6. glad you had such a fulfilling and amazing summer. YOur Aunt M sounds like a hoot.

    Congrats on one of your students getting an award. One of my students who I write a recommendation letter for got her scholarship and I couldn't have been more proud.

    I'm going to have to google Bard College. It sounds really cool. I am picturing brick english manor style architecture.

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  7. Hi Susanna--

    I need to catch up on your doings!

    There is some manorish architecture, but there is a wild range, including a wonderful Gehry:

    http://fishercenter.bard.edu/about/

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  8. Oh, and congrats on your student! Fun to be a young teacher...

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  9. 2nd favorite Ruth picture... also no room on walls...

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  10. I have the same problem: too many pictures. I don't care--shall march them to the ceiling.

    Hey, you didn't sell your pictures at the Enormous Yard Sale! Wise.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.