More Reflections on the Role of Creative Writing in the Tragedy at Virginia Tech

Though yesterday’s post on the relationship between creative writing and this week’s terrible events at Virginia Tech hasn’t yet gleaned any public comments here, I have received a number of private e-mails about it (and believe me, the site stats/referral pages show readers are coming to the blog specifically because that post is here). Since the topic is now attracting more attention elsewhere, today I’ll provide some sources for further information/reflection:

At you can find Elizabeth Redden’s “When Creative Writing Provides a Clue” as well as a number of reader comments.

At Harriet, the Poetry Foundation’s blog, you can find Emily Warn’s “Responding to Violent Poems in the Classroom”.

And it turns out that poet Nikki Giovanni (who provided the rousing closing moments for Tuesday’s Convocation on the Virginia Tech campus) seems to have been the instructor who brought the future gunman’s alarming behavior/writings to Lucinda Roy’s attention (again, see yesterday’s post for that background). Last night Giovanni appeared on CNN on both Paula Zahn’s show and Larry King’s. You’ll need to scroll down each transcript for her comments, including this from the Paula Zahn appearance: “You’d be amazed at what we get in creative writing, not to mention across the campus. You get a lot of expression. Some of it would be troubling, and in Cho’s case, some of it — you know, some was a troubling youngster that, frankly speaking, I didn’t think I could help. That didn’t mean he was beyond help.”

Friday Finds: Prose on Poetry

Some interesting writing about poetry I’ve caught this week:

David Orr’s essay in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review provides a compelling critique of Dana Goodyear’s recent New Yorker article (mentioned here) on “The Moneyed Muse.” By the way, a personage central to both pieces, Poetry Foundation president John Barr, also journeyed (rather bravely, I thought), to the recent AWP conference in Atlanta. In fact, I attended Barr’s presentation–he spoke alone, no co-panelists for this event–and I was disappointed that he fielded no questions from the audience. I think he could have handled them.

Also, I’ve just discovered Harriet, a poetry blog with multiple contributors (maintained by the aforementioned Poetry Foundation). I can’t say I find that all the posts there “speak” to me or my concepts of writing, but some do, and there’s an admirable variety of voices among the scribes.

Monday Morning Market Listings (Post-AWP Edition)

When I last posted here, I was on my way to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference (held this year in Atlanta). Now that I’ve had a little time to unpack and catch up with things back at home, and reflect a bit on the event, I must say, first, that the AWP staff did a fantastic job planning and running a conference for 4900 (that’s right, 4900) people. I was so happy to see old friends, connect familiar names with the faces to which they belong, and meet practicing writers new to me, too. I’m also very grateful for the Southern hospitality extended to me by my good friend, L, a practicing poet based in Atlanta. Among other treats, she and a friend took me to dinner Saturday night at Nancy’s, a wonderful restaurant where I enjoyed some delicious country fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and green beans (see photo). It was yummy!

I’ll tell you more about the panels/activities in upcoming posts. Meantime, I thought I’d share with you the scoop on some markets/opportunities advertised at the conference:

Among the information sheets I picked up was one for the Astrobiology and the Sacred Fiction Competition. Administered at the University of Arizona, this contest awards a first prize of $1,000 plus an invitation to read at the University of Arizona in September 2007 (travel and lodging included). Second and third prizes will be $500 and $250, respectively. Details/submission guidelines here. NO ENTRY FEE.

Handouts were also available with guidelines for the 2007 Charles Johnson Student Fiction Award. Administered at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, this competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents currently enrolled full- or part-time in a U.S. college or university. It is “intended to encourage increased artistic and intellectual growth among students, as well as reward excellence and diversity in creative writing.” Winner receives $1,000 plus a signed copy of a Charles Johnson book, plus publication in Crab Orchard Review. There’s NO ENTRY FEE. NB: Given that the handout noted that submissions “must be postmarked in March 2007,” I have to believe the Web site will soon be updated very soon.

At the West Branch table I picked up an information sheet noting that the journal’s contributor rates for poetry have increased. “We now offer payment in the amount of $20/poem + $10/additional page, or $10/page of prose, with a minimum payment per writer of $30 and a maximum payment of $100.” Contributors also receive two copies and a one-year subscription to the journal. “Book reviews are typically arranged by assignment. If you are interested in writing reviews, please query with a sample. We currently pay $200 per assigned review.” Read more about the journal here.

I was also reminded that the 2008 Zoland Poetry submission deadline is March 15, 2007. More information here. This publication also pays its poets/writers.

Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, is offering a 2008 Visiting Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. Details and application guidelines here.

Here’s an interesting award I learned about from the folks at the Flannery O’Connor Review: “The Sarah Gordon Award is an annual $500 prize for the best article written by a graduate student on Flannery O’Connor and/or Southern Studies.” There’s NO ENTRY FEE. Again, I’m not sure the Web site has quite kept pace with the flyer I saw displayed at AWP. Check for updates (my understanding is that articles must be submitted between April 1, 2007, and August 1, 2007, and that each entrant must be a graduate student as of August 1, 2007) here.