December 24, 2010

Apply! (Also: Fitch on Franzen) (Also: List-age)

Thanks to Leslie Pietrzyk for a reminder to spread the word about the Jenny McKean Moore FREE Community Workshop, which will be led by Tilar J. Mazzeo in the coming spring semester at George Washington University. Mazzeo, an associate professor at Colby College, is the author of the New York Times bestselling biography The Widow Clicquot and The Secret of Chanel No. 5.

Here's some boilerplate info on the workshop, courtesy of Leslie's blog:

Jenny McKean Moore Applications Due 1/10/11

Come and take part in a semester-long workshop in creative non-fiction—the art of using the strategies of fiction to tell true stories about history, place, and biography. To apply, you do NOT need academic qualifications or publications. The class will be a craft-based workshop that focuses on different approaches to writing biography and autobiography, and it will combine readings, writing exercises, and peer-review of the writing of participants. There are no fees to participate in the class, but you will be responsible for the costs of some photocopies. Students at Consortium schools (including GWU) are not eligible. The Workshop is not open to those who have participated in more than one Jenny McKean Moore Free Community Workshop.

The deadline to apply for the spring session—Tuesdays, 6-8 PM, January 18-April 19, 2011—is Monday, January 10, 2011.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest and a detailed personal narrative in which you describe your writing projects, your goals for the seminar, and how you hope to benefit from the workshop. A 5-10 page work sample may also be included. Include your name, address, home/work telephone numbers, and email address.

All applicants will be contacted by email by January 14.

Send your applications (by Monday, January 10, 2011) to
JMM Creative Nonfiction Workshop
Department of English
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW (Suite 760)
Washington, DC 20052

Personal testimony: I took a JMM workshop with poet Dana Roeser, the 2005-2006 resident, and had an incredible experience. Many key poems from Theories of Falling were conceived in that class--including the leadoff poem, "Cherry Tomatoes," "You," and "Drink"--and made connections with fellow DC poets that sustain me to this day. Having graduated from American University with my MFA in 2004, that was my first year of withdrawal from the structured feedback of university-workshops. This is a vital opportunity and a gift to the community--take advantage of it!


Through some random blog-hopping I came upon Janet Fitch's blog. I'm always delighted to find a high-profile author making the time to write online. But in particular, Fitch's entries are substantial and insightful. Check out one September entry, reviewing a Los Angeles reading and Q&A featuring Jonathan Franzen. An excerpt:

The selection he read was funny and mean… his tools for understanding where we are in America in our time are the satirist’s… and whether this is my favorite kind of writing (it isn’t) or not, the suppleness of the prose and the precision won my admiration.

Then afterwards, he settled down to an interesting, awkward conversation with Meghan Daum, author (Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House) and columnist with the LA Times.

I would not have wanted to change places with her. He is a difficult interviewee–though I don’t think he means to be, he just very clearly struggles to speak with precision, authenticity and honesty, and is embarrassed and uncomfortable with anything that would tempt another writer to cozy up to an audience or be a “good boy” for the interviewer–the very trait that caused his Oprah troubles to begin with.

We are not used to seeing difficult, authentic, often awkwardly honest writers on the national stage. We expect prominent writers to be performing seals to a certain degree, dealing with interviews and audiences with the confidence and aplomb of pitchmen selling miracle floorwaxes at the County Fair. So to see someone struggling to be honest and authentic, rather than charming and appealing, is a lot like catching an appearance of Hailey’s Comet.

Find the rest of the post here.


I was so happy to see I Was the Jukebox show up on a few more end-of-year lists, including one at The Millions (thanks Danielle!) and on the blog of Brian Spears, poetry editor for The Rumpus. And you can never go wrong with a thumbs-up from the Literary Mojito Society.

Miami! New York! Dallas! Germany! Pondering a heckuvalotta travel in 2011. Announcements soon~

1 comment:

Katrina said...

I so enjoyed i was the jukebox that I couldn't possibly pass up the chance to review it for Mojito Literary Society. I'm glad you found the review.