How the World Exists

“The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.”

 

As I read this quote by the late American short story writer and novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, I like to think that he was talking about us writers. In particular, about how  our creative worlds are completely in our hands. That we have the power to make stories, events, lives as big or as small as we want them to be. That with our pencils, our wild imaginations, and a space to let it all go, we can become the embodiment of freedom.

It is quotes like these from writers who have come before my time that motivate me when I need motivation, or that remind me of my power when, in the moments I am facing a creativity block, I feel powerless. Authors, novelists, and poets before me, I believe, hold wisdom in bountiful bushels, that will remain in abundance for the generations to come. With this being said,  my fellow writer-Eagles, I believe it is important for us to look back sometimes and to tap into this wisdom.

We cannot even begin to hope to become the writers we desire to become if we are not willing to take the advice of those who have gone before us. Those who have trodden on the road that now stretches out in front of us. Those who have gotten their butts kicked with rejection after rejection, but who have continued to show up and return, all the more determined.

With this, writer friends, I encourage you on your journey, to never stop learning, to never stop being guided, and to never forget how the world exists: only in your gifted, powerful, and unlimited eyes. 

Powell Award Submissions

 

Dear Writers,

Associate Professor Laura Valeri would like to remind you all:
“Don’t forget to submit your awesome work to the Powell Awards.  The deadline is Monday, and the prize is $100 in each category of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.  Moreover, you get honored at a reading and recognized at Honors Day.
I hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity to have your hard work recognized and to earn a cash prize.
You have nothing to lose by submitting, and everything to gain.
Attached you will find the flyer with all details.  Good luck, and hope to see work from everyone.”
Onward, Brave Writers!

Introducing Kim Addonizio

During the second night of February of this year, phenomenal poetess and author Kim Addonizio graced the House of Georgia Southern with her electrifying presence. Addonizio, proud mother-author of two novels, two story collections, two poetry-writing instruction books, and of seven poetry collections, gave public readings of her poetry from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., courtesy of The Department of Writing and Linguistics and The Georgia Poetry Circuit.

Little in stature, but mighty in the word, Addonizio’s presentation was likened to that of lightning: Brilliant. Captivating. Undeniably powerful. As she read to the audience from her latest poetry collection, Mortal Trash (W. W. Norton), she allowed us access into her world. More importantly, into her life, her story, and into the moments that made her become who she is.

Following her readings, she bestowed upon us audience members the opportunity to ask her questions, and to have them answered. When asked about how did she arrive at the position of courage that allowed her to so boldly become raw with her poetry, she responded simply and wonderfully that “this is what literature is about – being human.” She furthermore went onto explain that as writers, or those who aspire to become writers, it is imperative for us to become comfortable with “telling our stories however way we can tell it.” Addonizio mentioned how in poetry, “everything is fair game,” meaning that anything from our lives could be written about, if we so choose.

Lastly, although most importantly, she eloquently reminded us all, myself included, that in order to get anywhere with our writing, we need to “not worry whether people are going to react [or not],” but to mainly do it for ourselves. So that we are using our gifts. So that we are putting our literary treasures out into the world.

Overall, having Kim Addonizio visit Georgia Southern University was an absolute pleasure, and we hope we can have her back here again sometime soon. Addonizio is also the award winner of two Pushcart Prizes, fellowships from the NEA, and also from the Guggenheim Foundation. She was a finalist for the National Book Award for her masterful poetry collection Tell Me (BOA Editions, 2000). She enjoys teaching and speaking across the country, and internationally.

In addition to her awesomeness, she also a member of the musical group Nonstop Beautiful Ladies, in which she plays the harmonica. May she continue to be so amazing!

 

Encouragement [Poems] for Writers

For When You Start to Give Up

Remember your accomplishments:

You’ve given life to paper.

Made universes from drops of ink.

Formed souls out of thin air.

Like how the body swirls the blood,

Inside of you swirls Enchantment,

Wonder,

Delicious mystery.

The kind that only you can produce.

The kind that you have shown to produce time and time again.

Why not one more time?

Another Reminder

Are you aware that

Through the glides of your pen

You are infinite

Imagination beats on

Storytellers never die 

Awards, Awards, Awards!

On January 26, the Brannen Creative Writing Award and Georgia High School Writing Contest winners were recognized.

Firstly recognized were the 2017 Georgia High School Writing Contest winners. The Georgia High School Writing Contest, which is sponsored by the SUPER-amazing Department of Writing and Linguistics, rewards the best high school creative writing in the state of Georgia. Highly competitive, but without bloodshed, our winners were announced and honored handsomely throughout last night. 

The 2017 judges for the Fiction and Poetry category were Professor Jared Yates Sexton, and Professor Claire Nelson, respectively.

Winning out the Fiction category, Briana Hayes gifted us with a dynamic and fiery reading of her short story.

Claiming her rightful place as a poetry-writer, Bianka Ortega delivered her piece in a lovely, soft-spoken tone.

Congratulations, you wonderful writer-beings!!

The Brannen Creative Awards, begun by the amazing George Brannen, rewards writers who are either writing majors, minors or are in the Bachelor of General Studies Program, with a concentration of writing. The 2017 judges for the Fiction, Poetry, and Non-fiction categories were Professor Laura Valeri, Professor Christina Olson, and Professor Benjamin Drevlow, respectively.

The winner of the Fiction Category was Tonya Richardson, who reeled us all in for an emotional reading of her based-off-a-true-story piece, Saints’ Row.

Tralen Rhone, won out the Poetry Category with his beautifully well-written piece.

Danae Hildebrandt took the throne of the Non-fiction category with her heavy, yet touching true story of living with an alcoholic parent.

Wonderful job to you all! Thank you for putting your best foot (and pens!) forward to make GSU proud!

Special thanks to:

  • George Brannen
  • Dr. Ban Bauer
  • Miss Pat Byrd
  • Prof. Benjamin Drevlow
  • Prof. Claire Nelson
  • Prof. Christina Olson
  • Prof. Jared Yates Sexton
  • Miss Bettye Stewart
  • The Department of Writing and Linguistics
  • The great souls who showed us their work! May you all go on to do marvelous things!

Creative Accomplishments

Once again, the semester is a wrap-up; teachers and students have completed finals and are now ready to join family and friends for the holiday celebrations.

After all the stress of semester’s end, here are some reasons to lift that cup of egg nog and yell “Cheers!”

Our 2016 Harbuck Scholarship finalist Barbara Jayne McGaugheny and finalistis Aleyna Rentz, Jennifer Maldonado, and Jenna Lancaster celebrated their recognition with author Amanda Ward for the Harbuck 2016 reading in September. In October, they met and had lunch with our guest author, award winning writer, filmmaker and poet MK Asante, whom we’d brought here on a special grant through South Arts, in partnership with the NEA, and the Georgia Southern College Life Enrichment Committee.

Senior Morgan Davis saw her first publication for a story titled “Progress” a flash piece about eating disorders.  Have a look at If And Only If, the elegant e-journal that published her work this October.  Morgan will also be interviewing award-winning writer Sandra Beasley for this upcoming issue of Wraparound South.

Bryce Knight, another W&L major, had a story accepted in Stymie magazine, coming soon.

green christmas ballAnd junior Aleyna Rentz adds yet another notch to her publication belt by placing her fiction piece, “A Mean Heart” with Deep South Magazine.

This Fall 2015 also said goodbye to two accomplished and ultra-creative W&L majors Courtney Causey and Jennifer Maldonado.  Congratulations, girls!

A good round of applause is also due to alumna Amanda Malone for being nominated this Fall for the celebrated Pushcart prize for her fiction piece, “He’s All Humanity,” which appeared in Cheap Pop in April.

Last, but not least, our alumni Cassie Beasley is now officially a  New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice author for her first novel, an MG page-turner titled Circus Mirandus.

Better still, Cassie’s book just made the New York Times Best Seller list for Middle Grade books for readers 9-12.  Wow, Cassie.  We’re inspired.

The College Life Enrichment Committee has also approved a grant to bring Cassie back to Georgia Southern for a day.  She will be teaching a one day workshop in Young Adult writing, giving some young writers advice on writing careers, and giving a reading and book signing right here in our Statesboro campus in February or early March. Stay tuned for the dates or contact Dr. Terry Welford for more information.

Congratulations W&L students and alumni. Your success makes us proud to teach here, and we wish you all the best for many years to come.  I know that we’ll soon hear plenty more publication news from those who took classes here with us in the Writing & Linguistics Department at Georgia Southern, so if you didn’t get mentioned, don’t fret: we believe in you and know that soon we will hear all about your success.

Cheers.  And Happy Holidays.

The Wisdom of Sholeh Wolpe’

Sholeh2

This Wednesday February 4, Georgia Southern University and the Writing & Linguistics Department enjoyed a rare treat: a reading, workshop and q&a with poet, writer, and translator Sholeh Wolpe.

Wolpe’s very opening words struck the nostalgic mood of the reading and her subject matter: home is the missing tooth that tongue reaches for in the empty space.  An immigrant myself, I immediately recognized the core, complex truth of those simple words.  Wolpe left her home in Iran when she was thirteen years old, before the revolution that would eventually prevent her from returning, making her, in effect, an exile.

“An exile is someone who wants to  go home but can’t,” she explained candidly to a rapt audience.  Her early residence in Trinidad sprinkled her poems with vivid sensory images of a caribbean paradise, yet the longing for home permeates even the most uplifting poems.

“I finally decided,” said Wolpe of her long search for home, “that home is within the heart.  We carry it inside of us.”  She believes that if all people came to understand this, then we would all look to each other as “our people” and home would be everywhere. There would be no need for wars or separation based on religious or political differences.

“I’ve decided to make poetry my religion,” said Wolpe candidly.  I wanted to stand up and applaud.

BOOKS BY SHOLEH WOLPÉ

sin-selected poems of Forugh FarrokhzadRooftops of Tehran The Scar SaloonBreaking the Jaws of Silence--Sixty American Poets Speak to the WorldKeeping Time With Blue HyacinthsThe ForbiddenTable & Pen--Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle EastThe Atlanta Review

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