A writer’s most valuable tools are not the pen or keyboard but rather her ability to listen, to pay attention to things, and to know the right questions to ask.
“Fiction is the art form of human yearning.” – Robert Olen Butler
“We are living in the most fearmongering time in human history.” – Barry Glassner
“I think what we need to do is to remind people that the Earth is a very dangerous place these days. That ISIS is trying to do us harm. And that the president’s commitment is to keep the country safe.” – Sean Spicer
What is writing for?
I confess that, after having taught creative writing for more than 35 years and read tons of student writing I don’t remember and tons of good and great books by good and great authors I also don’t remember, I sometimes find myself wondering if we really need any more new writing.
Twenty years ago, I edited Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out, the first commercially published multi-genre anthology of writers with disabilities writing about disability. The anthology was published by Plume. In the introduction, I wrote: “Throughout history, people with disabilities have been stared out. Now, here in these pages — in literature of inventive form, at times harrowingly funny, at times provocatively wise — writers with disabilities affirm our lives by putting the world on notice that we are staring back.”
There is a stack of summer books on the floor still to return to the library, that have reached their renewal limit, overdue.
Moving back to London requires minimal adjustment, it’s as easy (as a writer once said about revision, compared to first draft composing) as sliding into a bath of warm oatmeal. No culture shock save for the first instant of wondering why dogs and babies are driving cars; all you have to do is exercise a little preliminary caution crossing the street and you’re done. Or maybe some mild culture shock, over here in the Land of Other People’s Problems, to learn exactly what the tabloid media judges important. “Horror on No. 77!” shrieks the top headline in the Evening Standard, the free newspaper everyone reads on the Tube going home after work.
This week, following the U.S. President’s pro-white nationalist tantrum before the press in the wake of the Charlottesville terrorist attack (remarkably deemed as such by Attorney General Jeff Sessions), it seems that we are witnessing a regression of a whole different order of magnitude.
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 Susan Kim: My psychic reserves are low. And so I find myself reading the so-called “strange stories” of Robert Aickman.
Goddard MFAW alumna Theresa Barker: As I write these words I am hurtling (hurtling!) through a tunnel below ground under the hills of Seattle, in a plastic and metal carriage in a chamber that a thousand thousand thousand inventions of humans have created. Such a thing is unthinkable if you really pay attention to it, as unthinkable as time travel, yet here I am.
Goddard MFAW faculty Beatrix Gates: Turning to write about risk and its accompanying later knowledge, revelation, I fell into memories of the waves out from 9/11. Soon I was wearing a different set of shoes and walking in a different time.
Goddard College MFAW faculty Micheline Aharonian-Marcom: Like you, I’m a devotee of letters and the Imagination, of Imaginative Literature, and what I have to offer you, writers, poets, dreamers, storytellers, keepers and people of the Word, in addition to my steadfast belief in the human capacity for love, are some thoughts on books and writing and art, for in my loss of what say to you, and in my great worries about the times we live in, no doubt many years in the making but now firmly upon us as we face the consequences of our creations and of our politics, I returned over the last months to the library to seek in solitude and quiet the wisdom, the beauty, the truth and company in books—my great home since I was a child in Los Angeles adrift in a world of TV and spectacle and vapidity and a deep unarticulated loneliness and out-of-placeness, where I learned and loved to read and found in literature the wild connections, understanding, and a chorus of voices which spoke to me then across time, space, culture and language, and encouraged and emboldened me, and continue to do so until today.
Which three books would you give our new president in order to shape our future? In the 1960 movie adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, the hero– H.George Wells– returns home from a far-flung future to retrieve three books
Goddard College MFAW faculty Richard Panek: When I think about giving thanks, I don’t think about what or whom I’m thanking. The feeling is more a sense of general gratitude, even relief; it’s a reminder to myself to be aware of what’s good—an exercise that has become more poignant in recent days.
by Sarah Cedeño, Editorial Director of Clockhouse I write this in the final days of May. The upcoming issue of Clockhouse, to be released in July, has been long in the works, but longer than our talented staff of