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 in Gladfelter unless indicated otherwise.
READINGS by FACULTY
Tuesday, January 3—8:00 PM —Gladfelter, Canon Lounge
Andrea Barrett, Paul Otremba, Danielle Evans, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Marisa Silver
Wednesday, January 4
David Shields, Chase Twichell, Megan Staffel, Alan Williamson
Thursday, January 5
Jeremy Gavron, Sandra Lim, Antonya Nelson, Daniel Tobin
Friday, January 6
Martha Rhodes, Kevin McIlvoy, Connie Voisine, Laura van den Berg
Saturday, January 7
Marianne Boruch, C.J. Hribal, Eleanor Wilner, Peter Orner
Sunday, January 8—no readings
Monday, January 9
Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Dean Bakopoulos, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Charles Baxter
Tuesday, January 10
Liam Callanan, Debra Allbery, David Haynes, Alan Shapiro
READINGS by GRADUATING STUDENTS
Wednesday, January 11
Abigail Cahill O’Brien, Matthew Alberswerth, Sarah Halper, Rose Skelton
Thursday, January 12—4:30 PM, Ransom Fellowship Hall, followed by Graduation Ceremony
Emilie Beck, Terri Leker, Paul Mihas
All lectures will be in Canon Lounge in Gladfelter unless indicated otherwise.
For more information, call the MFA Office at Warren Wilson College: (828) 771-3715.
The schedule is subject to change.
Wednesday, January 4 – 11:00 AM
DEAN BAKOPOULOS: They Threw Me Off the Hay Truck: On Bafflement and Difficulty
In this lecture, we’ll examine the state of bafflement that is often the genesis of lasting literary work, and the slippery concept of difficulty, particularly when writing about the struggle for justice in times of violence and upheaval (political or personal). We’ll begin with a section of Ralph Ellison’s essay “Harlem is Nowhere,” and go from there, with a focus on the genres of magical realism and noir mystery. The lecture will likely refer to the fiction of Haruki Murakami, Helen Oyemi, James Cain, Valeria Luiselli, and Alain Mabanckou, and poems by Kevin Young, Jericho Brown, Tarfia Faizullah, Maram Al-Massri, and Ada Limón. No advance reading is necessary; handouts will be provided.
Thursday, January 5 – 9:30 AM
ALAN WILLIAMSON: On Poetic Density
If it is true that, as Julia Kristeva says, “our gift of situating ourselves in time for an other could exist nowhere except beyond an abyss,” then it’s worth looking at poems that bypass the imitation of daily speech, that make their narrative occasions slightly mysterious. Instead, such poems concentrate, even overload, many of the traditional resources of poetry—sound, implicit as well as explicit metaphor, the secondary or connotative meanings of words—to convey something more like a state of consciousness. We will look at Hopkins’ “The Windhover,” Hart Crane’s “Lachrymae Christi,” Sylvia Plath’s “The Night Dances,” and, as a contemporary example or counter-example, Brenda Hillman’s “To Spirits of Fire After Harvest.”
Thursday, January 5 -10:45 AM
PETER ORNER: In Praise of “Inaction”
An (imperfect) exploration of some instances of when and why writers opt for a quiet detonation as opposed to an explosion in a pivotal moment. Some people might call this old-hat anti-climax, but I’m not sure it is anti-anything. The attempt to try something unexpectedly inactive is—sometimes—a far more radical and mysterious narrative choice. Using examples from Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying as a point of departure, I’ll be discussing examples of how certain less-familiar writers such as Gina Berriault, Felisberto Hernandez, Penelope Fitzgerald, Yoko Towada, and John McGahern employ inaction in critical moments. For the very ambitious, I’d point you to Part Two of To the Lighthouse, the first twenty-five pages of As I Lay Dying, as well as “The Light at Birth” by Gina Berriault, “The Flooded House” by Felisberto Hernandez, “Where Europe Begins” by YokoTowada, Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald, and “The Wine Breath” by John McGahern. Handouts will be provided.
Friday, January 6 -9:30 AM
C. J. HRIBAL: The Intimate Distance of Bohumil Hrabal
Novels and stories narrated in the first person are essentially monologues, but what happens when this is taken to an extreme? Bohumil Hrabal likes to call his writing style “palavering,” or as the critic James Wood calls it, “anecdote without end.” His narratives move forward through narrators who, once they’re wound up, just keep talking and talking and talking, spilling all their (and other people’s) secrets, like the singer in Sonny Boy Williams’ “Don’t Start Me to Talkin’” (“Don’t start me to talkin’, I’ll tell everything I know”). This lecture will serve as an introduction to Hrabal’s work, with attention paid to what we can learn from this highly idiosyncratic style. Texts discussed will include: Closely Watched Trains, I Served the King of England, and Too Loud a Solitude. Other texts referred to will include The Little Town Where Time Stood Still, Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, and his story collection, The Death of Mr. Baltisberger (among others). Handouts will be provided, but reading one of the above is recommended.
Friday, January 6 -10:45 AM
ELEANOR WILNER: Disguise and Discovery: The Masks of Art
The talk will explore opposing uses of the mask in the world of doing vs. the world of making; in the latter, the role of the mask of art in the imaginative opening of identity to plurality, and of self to other. Handouts will be provided.
Saturday, January 7 – 11:00 AM
ANDREA BARRETT: The Transformation: Virginia Woolf and The Years
In 1931, Virginia Woolf made her first notes for what she called “an Essay-Novel, called The Pargiters—and it’s to take in everything, sex, education, life, etc.” By 1934 she had a 900-page draft, which she revised heavily several times. By 1936 she was in such despair about the novel that she nearly collapsed; she revised again in what Leonard Woolf called “the most drastic and ruthless way,” set that draft in page proofs—and revised still more. The Years as we know it—radically different from her earlier conceptions–was published in 1937. I’ll talk about Woolf’s path through that massive structural revision and what we might gain by a similar effort. No prior reading necessary; handouts provided.
Wednesday, January 11 – 9:30 AM
CHASE TWICHELL: A Problem Concerning Metaphor
Bodhidharma, the 5th century Indian Buddhist monk who brought Zen (Chan) to China, wrote: “If you use a trap to catch a fish, once you’ve succeeded you can forget the trap. If you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget the language.” As a student of Zen Buddhism, I’ve spent the last 20 years trying to see the world just as it is, unobscured by the layers of association, assumption, and meaning I as a human being have ascribed to it. As a poet, I’ve spent my entire life doing pretty much the opposite: seeking meaning in and correspondences between things. Language, of course, is my medium, and metaphor the crucial linguistic place where most of the enlightening collisions happen. Is there an irreconcilable problem here? By Zen lights, is metaphor inherently an enemy of clear vision? In this lecture we’ll look at Chinese, Japanese, and American poems, ancient to contemporary, to see how Zen poets manage (or fail) to “forget the trap.”
Wednesday, January 11 – 10:45 AM
CHARLES BAXTER: My Mother’s Hatpins
Most fiction takes place in the present, but some fiction takes on the challenge of predicting the future (H. G. Wells’ “Things to Come,” and the fiction of Philip K. Dick, among many other SciFi texts), and some other kinds of fiction tries to memorialize and preserve what Samuel Beckett calls “things about to disappear.” I’m most interested in the latter mode, and I plan to talk about Deborah Eisenberg’s “Twilight of the Superheroes” and Edward P. Jones’s story “Gospel.”
Thursday, January 12 – 9:30 AM Ransom Fellowship Hall
ANTONYA NELSON: True Grist: Material, and its Milling
“Stories don’t happen to people who can’t tell them,” claims Alan Gurganus’ oldest living Confederate widow. Is it so? This lecture will be a meditation on the process of finding—in life, literature, and lore, from fact, fiction, fairy tale—and using the stuff of stories.
Thursday, January 12 – 10:45 AM Ransom Fellowship Hall
MARIANNE BORUCH: Little Words in the Museum of the Humanly Possible:
Oh and Oh No and Ah