On Possibility

By Keith S. Wilson, Poetry Faculty

For me, poetry is a balance, or a vacillation, between overthinking a thing until I’ve ground it to dust, and floating on the air, letting the writing happen. One translation of this happens when I try not to think at all, to the extent that that is possible, and write, and then follow that up later by looking at every last detail as I edit.

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Under the Ocelot Sun: The Making of an Illustrated Book

By Jeremy Paden, Spalding School of Writing Poetry Translation Faculty

The Bestia.
[Illustration by Annelissa Hermosilla]
[The Bestia is the name that migrants have given to the train that runs from southern Mexico
to northern Mexico. It’s known as The Bestia because of how dangerous it is.] 

His name is Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez. Propublica tells us Carlos was just sixteen years old when he died of the flu in a cell at a detention center in Weslaco, Texas in May 2019. He was from the Mayan highlands of Guatemala and the fourth minor to have died while in the custody of the Customs and Border Patrol Agency of the United States in 2019. He had followed his brother north, hoping that a new country would give him opportunities his own could not provide. The other children who have died in custody this year are also Guatemalan: the eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo, the not-yet-three-year-old Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vázquez, and the sixteen-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez. In 2018, two minors died while in custody, both girls: Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, a ten-year-old El Salvadoran, and Jakelin Caal Maquín, a seven-year-old Guatemalan.

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On Muriel Rukeyser

By Robin Lippincott, Fiction & Creative Nonfiction Faculty, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

 The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser

Because it’s almost National Poetry Month as I write, and may already be April by the time this post appears, I want to repost a freshened-up version of an earlier blog—a tribute to the late, great poet Muriel Rukeyser.

I was fortunate enough to see Rukeyser and to hear her read, in 1978, less than two years before her death. This was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at Harvard University, in the Woodberry Poetry Room, as I recall, and the place was packed. Stratis Haviaras, director of the Poetry Room and later a teacher of mine, must have introduced her, but I don’t remember that.

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THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT LIFE BEFORE THE VIRUS

[First appeared in New Verse News]

By Lesléa Newman, Writing for Children & Young Adults Faculty, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

I.
I remember shaking hands:
damp, sweaty hands and dry, scratchy hands,
bone-crushing handshakes and dead-fish handshakes,
two-handed handshakes, my hand sandwiched
between a pair of big beefy palms.
I remember hairy hands and freckled hands,
young smooth hands and old wrinkled hands,
red polished fingernails and bitten jagged fingernails,
stained hands of hairdressers who had spent all day dying,
dirty hands of gardeners who dug down deep into the good earth.

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It’s National Poetry Month! Have you got your poem for today?

By Lynnell Edwards, Associate Program Director, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

The first time I tried a “poem-a-day” challenge in April for National Poetry Month I had already blown it before I even started.  From my journal that year, I see the first entry is Monday, April 3.  But I had given myself a few rules to make the whole endeavor slightly more humane and if maybe I actually didn’t remember it was April until the 3rd, then okay.  Monday is still kind of like a first day so I went forward.

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Three Poems of the Last Decade for the New Decade

By Douglas Manuel, Spalding School of Writing Poetry Faculty

The fact the decade was ending snuck up on me, much as old age often does: no impact at all, and then, suddenly, one’s perspective on flights of stairs changes, and one’s lower back finds the key of pain a little more often. I quote T.S. Eliot far too often: “I grow old … I grow old.” So yes, because of the stupors of routine and/or the acute observation fatigue I often feel (Our current political situation is a heavy stone I remove from my chest daily.), I did not feel the sighing swirls of decade’s end until the onslaught of end-of-decade lists saturated my television time with my family and my internet time as I turned tight, slow corners through the roads of my online neighborhoods. It was then, as cultivated nostalgia fed my senses, that I took my eyes from my screens and to myself, to those weathered roads of memory where the skyline is mostly foggy and the rain is cold enough to sting a bit but light enough to feel like mist. 

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Summer Residency in Paris: The Rest of the Details!

By Katy Yocom, Spalding School of Writing Associate Director for Communications and Alumni Relations

Last week, I wrote up all the details we could announce about our Paris residency, July 6-16, 2020. This week I’m back with final details, including travel costs and an innovative new workshop focused on professional writing.

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Summer Residency in Paris: (Most of) The Details You’ve Been Waiting For

By Katy Yocom, Spalding School of Writing Associate Director of Communications and Alumni Relations

This is the time of year when students and alums start sending me GIFs of impatient cats, with captions like “Me watching my email for news about Paris.”

I know you’re eager to make your plans. I swear we’re not holding out on you; we’re just putting the final touches on the residency. And in that spirit, even though final details are still in progress, here’s what I can tell you.

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Ohm’s Law

By Debra Kang Dean, Spalding School of Writing Poetry Faculty

For any circuit the electrical current is directly proportional to the voltage and is inversely proportional to the resistance.

As a consequence of my bewilderingly high scores in the electronics section of the battery of tests I had to take before enlisting in the Air Force, I was recruited into the field of ground radio repair. It turned out to be a poor match since I never really got beyond being able to read schematics; I console myself by believing that one need also have mechanical sense to do well, and my scores on that part of the test had been dismal.

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Listening for the Echo: Translating Alí Calderón’s “Democracia Mexicana”

Jeremy Paden, Spalding School of Writing Translation Faculty

A popular internet list in recent years is the top 10 most beautiful but untranslatable words. 侘寂, wabi-sabi, beautiful imperfection in Japanese. Tartle, Scottish for the hesitation caused by forgetting someone’s name when in the middle of introducing them. The German word Verschlimmbessern, making something worse while trying to fix it. These lists go on and on.

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