amy hempel reading

41CsdbeUzCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The power of the Internet brought me this mp3 of Amy Hempel reading “The Harvest” and suddenly I know what we’re listening to in class tomorrow.

Amy Hempel — “I moved through the days like a severed head that finishes a sentence.”

film recommendation: a scanner darkly

AScannerDarkly(1stEd)Lately for many reasons I feel I’ve been living inside of a Philip K. Dick novel, so I’ve been rereading a couple of my favorite–Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said and A Scanner Darkly.

What does a scanner see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does it see into me, into us? Clearly or darkly? I hope it sees clearly, because I can’t any longer see into myself. I see only murk. I hope for everyone’s sake the scanners do better. Because if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I do, then I’m cursed and cursed again. I’ll only wind up dead this way, knowing very little, and getting that little fragment wrong too.

And Richard Linklater’s film adaptation visualizes Dick’s themes of shifting realities–internal and external–and also shifting identities so perfectly in its animation. It’s funny how today we are reading post-modern novels with shifting narration, and Dick’s work was seen as genre and a lesser form of novel writing back in the sixties and seventies. I’m looking forward to tracking down his so-called “straight” novels.

thug notes

The first time I heard Thug Notes I found it very funny and engaging. I played it for my Lit 111 students. We liked the break down in a less elite language. And I love to see books and ideas from books featured in so called new media. I wonder though if this quick summary of books perhaps might be what Bradbury was warning us about? Will quick summaries like this or another quick summary like SparkNotes take the place of reading?

Now I’m thinking I’d rather see videos like this on from The Pen Pixie:

stuart dybek’s the coast of chicago

9780312424251We’re discussing a few stories tomorrow from Stuart Dybek‘s collection The Coast of Chicago. I admire “The Woman Who Fainted” and “Pet Milk” (4:27) and I was happy to find this reading for my Lit 50 students. So important to hear the author’s voice.

I was lucky enough to hear him read years back at Oregon State. I remember he mentioned the stories began as failed poems. And a few years back a former student gifted me a nice hard bound version that was also signed.

the house of order and southern colorado reader series

CSU-Pueblo-seal-flat-bw--Converted-I will be reading from my book The House of Order at Colorado State University-Pueblo on Feb 4, 2014 as a part of the Southern Colorado Reader Series. I will also be speaking to several fiction classes on the subject of literary minimalism and composite short stories.

southern colorado reading series at CSU-P

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Poet and professor Juan Morales invited me to be a featured reader next year in the Southern Colorado Reader Series at Colorado State University–Pueblo–tentatively scheduled next April. Couldn’t be more grateful.  

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Enjoyed Sergio Troncoso’s fiction workshop the past ten days and wanted to post some of my notes on the rest of the Yale Writer’s Conference.

Day One: Keynote speech by author and medical doctor Richard Selzer  asked us to combine our interests and occupations with our love for language. Loved the idea he gave us to avoid timidity in our writing. “Don’t be afraid to tell lies,” he lectured. He also gave us the idea that instincts are more important than our intellect; our impressions are more important than the facts of a story.

Day Two: Kevin Wilson’s craft lecture on his process in moving from short work to longer narrative works was so helpful. I loved the metaphor of short story as car crash versus a novel which is a road trip. Urged us to find the interiority of our characters. Also his exercises and group work with fellow writers was a great idea to push friends and fellow writers to write often. He shared some quotes from his mentor: “Your writing may fail but at least you will have the evidence.”

Day Three: Interesting thoughts from Deborah Triesman the New Yorker fiction editor. urged us to submit our strongest work to  fiction @newyorker.com.

Emily Bazelon from Slate Magazine warned us about the difficulty of earning a living as a writer for hire–warned as about low pay for freelancers. Also her words on the worry from her staff that there is not much reporting and not much high quality reporting from publications.

IMAG0301Day Four: The master class with Zz Packer was an incredible experience. Her lecture on communication and the creation of image was helpful. Her notes and lecture she put up on the chalkboard followed these thoughts: 1. clearly communicate and create the image by unpacking sentences. 2. add action or motivational force. 3. plotting advice. She also went through a series of very helpful tips in terms of revision. I was most taken by her messy use of the chalkboard and her interaction with the class.

Day Six: An incredibly informative panel discussion with seven literary journal editors. Some of the journals included N Plus One, First Inkling, Atlas Review, and Hunger Mountain ; Fence and The Harvard Review were also there. Each editor gave great notes on what type of story to submit and how to avoid the slush pile. I was amazed how each editor suggested stories that begin immediately and also how each stressed the idea that there are many more writers who submit than folks who subscribe and read the magazines.

More notes to come…

more yale writers’ conference notes

the house of order: latino book award finalist

Award Winning Author logo 2013A few nights with D in New York City at Latino Literacy Now’s Latino Book Awards Ceremony. Grateful to be on hand at the Cervantes Institute to pick up my Honorable Mention. So many great writers and inspiring words.

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Cinco%20de%20Mayo_flyerLincoln Presidential Library hosting discussion of immigrant experiences, followed by food and music

From Swedes in the 1840s to southern African-Americans in the 1940s, newcomers helped strengthen Illinois with fresh ideas and energy. The process continues today with Latino immigrants, who will be the focus of a Cinco de Mayo discussion and celebration April 28 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

The free event, entitled “Recuerdos-Memories: Latino Experience in the Land of Lincoln,” runs from 1-5 p.m.

It begins with a round table in the library. Illinois judges,professors, educators and community activists will give brief presentations about their personal experiences with immigration or its role in their communities  They’ll also discuss the generations-long history of Latinos in Illinois. A question-and-answer period will follow.

Afterward, visitors can enjoy refreshments and music in the library atrium. The group El Nuevo Trio Acapulco will perform “corridos,” which are Mexican ballads with themes of oppression, immigration, revolution and other social conditions.

“This event brings us together to explore the diversity within Illinois, the immigrant experience and the American dream. Lincoln and his tenacious pursuit of the American dream continues to be a global inspiration to those who want to improve life for themselves and those around them,” said Eileen Mackevich, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

The panelists discussing their personal experiences and the historic role of Latinos in Illinois include:

·       Claudia Zabala, a dual-language teacher in Beardstown.

·       Salvador Valadezof Bloomington, lead researcher for the McLean County Museum of History’s Latino History Project.

·       John Paul Jaramillo, associate professor of creative writing at Lincoln Land Community College and author of the short-story compilation The House of Order.

·       Manuel Barbosa of Elgin, who served 14 years as a judge on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois.

·       Ricardo Montoya Picazo of Springfield, representing the Culturally Integrated Education for Latinos Organization.

This event builds on the presidential library’s exhibit on Benito Juarez, who is often called the Mexican Lincoln for presiding over Mexico during a period of war and social change in the 1860s.

Cinco de Mayo dates back to the 1862 Battle of Puebla, whenthe Mexican Army defeated the poorly prepared but vastly superior Frenchmilitary. After the defeat, Juarez instructed Mexican mariachi bands to playthe national anthem and lively corridos to mark Mexico’s victory. He laterdeclared Cinco de Mayo a holiday. Citizens turned out in lavish displays ofcolorful dress for a street festival filled with corridos music, dancing, andfood.

Cinco de Mayo is not widely celebrated in Mexico today butremains popular with Mexican-Americans in the United States.

Refreshments are being provided by La Familia Mexican Bakeryin Beardstown.

Entertainment co-sponsored by Great Plains: Laborers-Employers Cooperative & Education Trust

recuerdos-memories: latino experience in the land of lincoln

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Two pieces of good news: Today I learned I will be a member of a Latino Lecture Panel at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum on April 28th and also that I was accepted into Sergio Troncoso’s advanced workshop at the Yale Summer Writers’ Conference.

day of good news