Public Schedule Announced for January 2018 MFA Residency

Posted on Dec 7, 2017

The public is welcome to attend the morning lectures and evening readings in fiction and poetry offered during the Master of Fine Arts Program winter residency. Events last approximately one hour. Admission is free. The schedule is subject to change. For more information, call the MFA Office: (828) 771-3715.

Readings will begin at 8:15 PM in Canon Lounge, Gladfelter, unless indicated otherwise.


Wednesday, January 3—8:00 PM 

Lesley Nneka Arimah, Christine Kitano, Bennett Sims, Dana Levin, Anna Solomon Thursday, January 4 Michael Parker, Martha Rhodes, Marisa Silver, Daniel Tobin

Friday, January 5

C.J. Hribal, Marianne Boruch, Nina McConigley, Maurice Manning

Saturday, January 6

Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Robert Boswell, Connie Voisine, Antonya Nelson

Sunday, January 7

Jeremy Gavron, Daisy Fried, Megan Staffel, Alan Williamson

Monday, January 8—no readings

Tuesday, January 9 David Haynes, Debra Allbery, Dominic Smith, Matthew Olzmann

READINGS by GRADUATING STUDENTS Wednesday, January 10 Kathleen Crowley, Gregory Miller, Kristen Hewitt, Christina Ward-Niven

Thursday, January 11—Fellowship Hall, behind Ransom Chapel Kate Kaplan, Robin Rosen Chang, Kate Lister Campbell, Shannon Winston

Friday, January 12—4:30 PM, Fellowship Hall (followed by graduation ceremony) Sonya Larson, Carlos Andres Bates-Gómez, Meghan Williams


Faculty Lectures – January 2018

The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College

All lectures will be in Canon Lounge, Gladfelter, unless indicated otherwise.

For more information, call the MFA Office at Warren Wilson College: (828) 771-3715.

The schedule is subject to change.


Friday, January 5, 9:30 AM

ALAN WILLIAMSON: Center and Circumference: The Modernist Long Poem

Though now an all-but-extinct genre, the Modernist long poem was one of the high points of literary ambition in the Twentieth Century. It was omnivorous, attempting, by methods akin to collage in modern painting, to include the poet’s entire circumambient world. And the fluidity or elusiveness of the central point of view, amid multiple narrators, could suggest a larger mode of selfhood, constituted by the totality of one’s relations. We will be looking at the opening sections of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Robert Hayden’s “Middle Passage,” Hart Crane’s The Bridge, and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson.


Friday, January 5, 10:45 AM

MICHAEL PARKER: The Big I. F.: Imitative Fallacy and Structural Integrity

Most, if not all, of what we write about--love, grief, familial bonds, cultural and political forces, “madness,” the imagination, consciousness itself-- tends toward chaos, ambiguity and irresolution. It is our charge to represent, via narrative rhythm, that chaos while employing technical means to frame and find order in it. The imitative fallacy occurs when we merely mimic the chaos without employing formal order, leaving the reader more confused than satisfied. This lecture will discuss why the imitative fallacy is something we should always risk in our attempt to capture the rhythm of experience, but never commit. We will focus on ways in which it is (narrowly but powerfully) avoided (and sometimes not) in works including Wright Morris’ The Works of Love, Danielle Dutton’s Sprawl, and Brian Eno’s glorious deconstruction of Pachelbel’s Canon, with passing mention of Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Pauline Kael’s review of same, and the novels of Herta Müller.


Saturday, January 6, 9:30 AM

NINA McCONIGLEY: New Territories: Migration and Exile

The poet Amit Majmudar says this, “You’ve come of age in the age of migrations./ The board tilts, and the bodies roll west./ Fanaticism’s come back into fashion,/ come back with a vengeance./ In this new country, there’s no gravitas,/ no grace…” This lecture will be about the literature (focusing on fiction with some other genres thrown in) of migration and exile. From the Book of Exodus to Ovid’s Poetry of Exile, writers have long examined what it means to leave one’s country, to migrate to the unknown. We’ll look at how these migrations shape characters into new territories and internal spaces. What does migration and exile mean to us as writers? Any journey that has a geographical and social repositioning asks our characters to reconsider themselves, to examine not only the self, but the other.

We’ll likely look at Moshid Hamin (Exit West), Tayeb Salih (Season of Migration to the North), Agha Shahid Ali (The Country Without a Post Office), W. G. Sebald (Austerlitz), Leslie Marmon Silko (Ceremony), Solmaz Sharif (Look), Vladimir Nabokov (Speak, Memory), and Kiran Desai (The Inheritance of Loss).


Saturday, January 6, 10:45am

MARIANNE BORUCH: Orienteering and Trial Balloons

This lecture is a pinball machine, a set of shelves, a seed bed, a hoarded basement’s languid mess. Which is to say, it is a five-part invention (Audio, Embarrassment, Spellcheck, Wild Blue Yonder, Shirt) taking on a number of subjects: the beloved particulars of image, rhyme and other kinship sounds, metaphor, lineation, on to various sorts of transformation yet to be named exactly. And anecdotes about hairstyles, airplanes, 8th grade, dark-eyed Juncos, public swimming pools, etc. Plus why we write at all. Eventual reference will be made to the work and continuing presence of Joseph Conrad, Emily Dickinson, Larry Levis, John Clare, Laura Jensen, Jorge Luis Borges, and others. The aim also is to introduce a rather addictive form of literary architecture —I call it the “wee essay”—which is a DIY lyric device of attention crossed by bewilderment that with any luck carries a faint rhetorical aftersound, just enough to bother you and perhaps show what can be managed with fewer words than might be good for you.

Handouts will be provided. No experience necessary but curiosity would be grand.


Sunday, January 7, 9:30 AM

DANA LEVIN: Object Lessons

There are four primary foci for this lecture: 1) T.S. Eliot’s idea of the Objective Correlative. 2) Objects and their settings. 3) Objectification: both in terms of power dynamics and in terms of the made thing. Issues addressed will include: displacement, ocular privilege, desire and seeing, agency and setting. We’ll look at these literary works: Hass, “A Story about the Body” (prose poem); Carter, “The Bloody Chamber” (story); Stevens, “A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts” (poem); Rankine, “June 26, 2011 / In Memory of James Craig Anderson” (poem/script). A fourth focus, Objects as Ego-Silencers, may have to wait for a future lecture. But should time allow for this, we’ll venture into Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons (poetry), thoughts from Charles Simic and Louise Glück (prose), and Harryette Mullen (poetry).


Sunday, January 7, 10:45 AM

MARISA SILVER: The Noticing Eye

It’s a commonplace that two people looking at the same thing—a painting, a crime in progress, a vase on a table—will notice very different things. We could say that the way in which we notice, and the differences that arise when two people see and interpret an event differently, are at the root of conflict and therefore of drama. This lecture will discuss the implications of noticing—the way in which character and conflict can be shaped by it, and the way a writer engages a reader by directing him or her to notice certain images and details. We will also explore how the act of noticing is an essential tool a writer must bring to the world around him or her to find out what feels important and meaningful to write about. Among the works we’ll discuss will be Meneseteung by Alice Munro, Errand by Raymond Carver, The Dead by James Joyce, That Night Alice McDermott, as well as music by Steve Reich and films by James Benning.


Thursday, January 11, 9:30 AM

CHRISTINE KITANO: Where the Persona Poem Meets Research: Aesthetic and Historical Demands

In this lecture, we’ll consider how to balance both historical and aesthetic demands when writing persona poems, particularly when those personae are historically marginalized speakers. Such poems fuse both the personal and political. How does the poet utilize historical research to shape such a voice? How does the poet balance the necessities of presenting the historical contexts with creating a dramatic arc? How does the poet, in the span of a brief lyric or narrative sequence, create a full and responsive voice? Reference points will include Rita Dove’s Thomas and Beulah, Lee Ann Roripaugh’s Beyond Heart Mountain, and notes from Carl Dennis’s Poetry as Persuasion. Handouts will be provided.  


Thursday, January 11, 10:45 AM

LESLEY NNEKA ARIMAH: The Outcast as Central Character: How Characters Who Break the Rules Become a Prism into Your World

In this lecture we will explore the power of the outcast to fully render your world, whether that world is realistic or fantastic (but especially fantastic). The term “outcast” as deployed here can take many forms, from characters excluded for minor social flubs to characters fighting to bring down entire systems. The character’s goal isn’t the point, but the manner in which they move through their world to accomplish it. Most likely texts: “Somebody’s Baby” by Diane Cook. Borne by Jeff VanderMeer, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.


Friday, January 12, 10:00 AM

MAURICE MANNING: How to Build a Haunted Fellowship Hall House: Or, Tell Me a Story About Farming, Ceremony, and Poetry in Motion

Longer, ambitious poems, while stunning in their presentation and apparent singularity, are nevertheless composed of smaller elements. These smaller elements, whether the metrical line, a conventional stanza, a free-verse arrangement of lines, or simply an accumulation of lines followed by open space on the page, constitute poetic form, in general terms. A sonnet or a villanelle is a specific form. This lecture is interested in discussing poetic form more broadly, and implies the notion that form is not simply an arrangement of material, but is, in fact, a living thing, a generative feature of the poem itself. To make elements of a poem consciously formal is a ceremonial act, it sets them apart and signals their importance. The formal elements of a poem are not merely stately, however; they become vital, and are therefore always in motion, shifting and hovering and resonating beyond the static meaning of words. There is a vibrant living thing below or above the poem, in other words, and this lecture is an attempt to articulate that fact! This poetic fact finds a kindred spirit in farming, namely, the pasturing of livestock and the required motions of a healthy farm. Farmers and farm-familiar poets will be invoked. Our primary text will be Robert Penn Warren's long poem, Audubon: A Vision. Those attending this lecture will be invited to read this poem in advance, but relevant sections of it, and the complete versions of other poems discussed will be provided.