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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Pay attention: how many times I have written in the margins of a student’s work: what is the purpose here? What is your reason for writing this? Where does this connect to the human spirit, to the human experience? To you? To your readers?
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 alumna Kris Johannesson: “At Goddard, we have this saying. Trust the process.
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.
Goddard MFAW faculty Victoria Nelson: The whole thing about risks is that you don’t know whether the risk is a good one or a bad one until after you take the plunge. That’s why it’s a risk.
Eight workshop sessions. Thirteen alums. One Faculty-Alumni dinner. Four days of writing immersion (counting sleep). Impromptu community gatherings at Taps Pub, at NCO House 334, in the Commons Café, and on the beach. Poems and protest pieces and neo-myths and