By Jeremy Paden, Spalding School of Writing Poetry Translation Faculty
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing is pleased to welcome award-winning poet and teacher Maggie Smith to our poetry faculty. Smith will deliver a poetry lecture during our Fall 2019 residency, November 15-24, and will mentor students in independent study. She joins award-winning poets Douglas Manuel, Keith S. Wilson, Debra Kang Dean, Lynnell Edwards, Erin Keane, Greg Pape, and Jeanie Thompson on faculty.
“Of course, everyone knows what a spectacular poet Maggie Smith is,” said School of Writing Chair Kathleen Driskell. “But what makes her perfect for Spalding is that’s she’s a committed and generous teacher who will provide expert instruction to our graduate writing students.”