Aristotle’s Poetics. Horace’s Ars Poetica. Freytag’s diagram. Syd Field’s paradigm. Frank Daniel’s sequence approach. For more than two millennia dramatic theorists have sought to trace, map and/or illustrate the shape and technical elements of a story told in dramatic form.
I’ve got a lot to gain by leaving my own borders every now and then. So maybe it’s time for me to read something other than plays. Time to step out of my zone and experience different things for a while. As I’m putting together my summer reading list, I’m going to select some good novels, some collections of short stories and yes, some poetry. And for Diana, a memoir or two.
Dear MFAW people,
I’m guessing that, for the majority of you, your first desire to write was a way to express an emotion that you were having difficulty feeling or understanding.
Goddard College MFAW faculty member Kenny Fries: The editor wanted to crop the photograph so it only showed, close-up, the lower portion of the photograph, which showed my cane and shoes. Next to it would be a similarly cropped version of a photo of South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, taken long before his trial for murdering his girlfriend.
I am a self-taught writer. There are many of us out there, though possibly not so many who are teaching creative writing in an MFA program. I wrote my first novel because I had to; it was a story that
Casey worked as a journalist in the Marines until, in the late l970’s, she attended a writing conference in California where one of the faculty told her she should, be writing poetry instead. Casey took this person and their work and when she returned to base, declared herself resident poet, meaning she would no longer report to duty.
I gave my name
rank an serial number,
said I was a poet. Beyond
that I refused to speak.
Rather than send her to the brig for going AWOL, Casey’s superior officers sent her to the psych ward. Part of her time in the psych ward is a subject of this book.
I wanted to open the valise of what could not make the trip into English. I wanted to hear Cortázar’s voice, the author speaking the language in which he wrote.
I didn’t know how obsessed I was with the world – with the actual word “world” – until I went through my second book of poems and saw that I used the word at least 30 times. Actually, another poet told me I used it 30 times but of course I went back and counted the words myself (because they were my words) to see if this was true. I’d never done anything like that – count how many times a word got used. I wonder if other poets do this?
I have an irrational fear of falling into a Japanese toilet—not an everyday worry, but one that poses itself as I pack for a weeklong research trip to a small town in Japan. I had knee surgery a few years ago and my squat technique is not what it used to be. My friend Reiko tells me it’s highly unlikely. I don’t tell her that I am the Queen of Unlikely. I tell her she’s right, and prepare for the worst.
Gay, disabled and Jewish: “An ex calls it the Nazi Trifecta, three marks under Nazism,” Kenny Fries explains – only to segue into another dark joke about the lack of accessibility in concentration camps.
If you are like me, you’ve probably spent hours over the last few months writing letters and making phone calls to your Senators and Congressman to voice your opposition to the political firestorm taking place in Washington DC. If you are like me, you are also probably experiencing some Resistance Fatigue, and frustration, due to busy signals, message machines that are full, staffers who are tired of hearing your voice, or hand cramps from writing so many letters.
MFAW faculty Keenan Norris: …my father, was less a reader than a storage chest of historical anecdote and information, come upon by means academic and experiential. He was also a runner, my father, a collegiate national record holder for twenty four hours at one point in time, so while my writings are much less the result of natural talent than dedicated labor, the running is in my blood.
Goddard MFAW faculty Rogelio Martinez: The play was now a straight arrow. I had talked the play right out of me.
A friend was becoming famous. He was, like most of my friends, a writer, and his writing was appearing in more and more prestigious places and gaining more and more attention. He deserved success. I can say that now. But
Goddard MFAW faculty Susan Kim: My psychic reserves are low. And so I find myself reading the so-called “strange stories” of Robert Aickman.