Tag Archives: AWP

Rethinking Creative Writing: The First Interview!

Wordamour is pleased to announce that today’s blog post is actually over at Erika Dreifus’ blog/newsletter/website Practicing Writing.

It’s fitting that Wordamour’s first  interview about the book would appear on this site, as she has admired Dreifus’ work and her site for years and has been admonishing her readers to make it part of their regular reading.  It’s a great resource.  And her book of stories, Quiet Americans, has been making all kinds of best lists.

Erika asked some wonderfully in-depth questions and Wordamour had a great time answering them.  It’s a terrific way to find out more about the book.

So what are you waiting for?  Get thee over to Practicing Writing  and check it out!

By y’all!



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Looking Ahead: AWP in DC

So Wordamour and husband are headed to DC this week for the Associated Writing Programs Conference with lots to look forward to.  So much, in fact, that we are going to have to pace ourselves.  And we’re at a hotel that’s a whole metro ride away from the conference so there will be very little going back to the room between events to de-stress by lying on a hotel bed staring at mindless tv (my de-stressing MO, if you haven’t guessed).

I’m on two panels which I’m very much looking forward to.  Fiction Writer’s Review gave me a shout out as a contributor when they listed contributor’s panels here.  I love Fiction Writer’s Review–if you’re at the Book Fair, check them out.  Better yet, subscribe to their blog.

Besides the panels:  Focus group on creative writing books for Bedford St. Martin’s with a free lunch and a stipend, dinner at Meskerem (a fondly remembered Ethiopian restaurant from my salad days in DC) with Anna Leahy and Cathy Day and friends, dinner with grad school pals Kelly Stern and Deb Moore, dinner with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law in from Maryland one night as well.

A publication party for Erika Dreifus’ Quiet Americans, which my husband reviewed here.

A whole group of students is going from UCA this year (and I know they will behave themselves so others can follow in future years.  Right? Right.).  Colleagues Mark Spitzer and Garry Powell. Former student, current Roosevelt MFA Heather Cox.

The Toad Suck Review will make its debut!

Glimpses of my British friends, Graeme Harper and Paul Munden among them (and the annual payment of my NAWE dues).

And the bookfair.  And more panels.  And somewhere in there, my birthday!

Good Lord!

I’ll be blogging about it all!

Bye y’all!


PS A shout out to my mother, who is making all this possible by staying with my kiddos!  Thanks, Mom!

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The week in brief and a teaching story

There’s a great piece on maintaining one’s writing motivation, keeping the numbers up, so to speak, that I highly recommend here.

We returned from AWP at 3 am Monday morning.  I love Amtrak; I really do.  And we  even slept in our seats this time, to save money.  Still love it.  Please, President Obama, open some more hubs so I don’t have to get to the east coast by way of Chicago.

A banner week teaching.  A student I had about ten years ago, a student I truly fretted about at the time–bright, so very, very bright,  but so bitter, angry, cynical, unable, due to past circumstances, to imagine any way life could turn out better than it had thus far–a student I have often thought about since that year, have even written about . . .found me on facebook.  Remembered my encouragement in spite of the resistance it met. . .

One look at this former student’s page was all it took to see that potential so  perfectly realized.   The life now lived in academia, in a lively college town,  the apparently happy family, the broad smile on the glowing  face, the smile I don’t think I ever saw that year.

That, my friends, is what it’s all about.  I’ll be living on that smile for a long time.  Maybe forever.

Bye y’all,


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Of books, birthdays and debriefings (from AWP, that is)

We returned from New York yesterday, after three flights.  FYI, three flights is AT LEAST one flight too many, especially if you don’t like to fly. 

Well, it happened–I went over the luggage weight limit.  I had 39 lbs to work with but ended up with 66.  This means I picked up 55 lbs worth of books and journals at the conference (I may not be doing the math right, but it’s close enough and I’m in a hurry). 

This necessitated a frantic scramble at the baggage counter.  John only had 5 lbs of space in his bag, so I had to figure out a way to shed 10 lbs.  I did this mostly by stuffing my carry on (I couldn’t even close it) and yes, I left behind two literary magazines and two issues of Poets and Writers at LaGuardia airport.  Oh well.  Hope someone out there enjoys them.

Besides all the info I picked up, attending AWP is sort of like watching your life pass before your eyes.  I spent time with friends from George Mason (age 22-26), UL Lafayette (26-30) and UCA (30+).  In fact, if Bill Lychack had been able to make it, I could have gone all the way back to my undergrad days. 

Which makes one somewhat rather reflective, since it coincided with my turning 41 today.  In one of my favorite Jim Croce songs, he sings:

If I had a box just for wishes, and dreams that had never come true–the box would be empty except for the memory of how they were answered by you. . .

My box has been pretty much emptied in the last twenty years. To wit:

I always wanted wavy hair.  Now, thanks to a good haircut and the hormones of the middle years, I have it.

I always wanted someone to cherish.  Now I’ve been married to the love of my life for 15 years.

I always wanted to be a mom.  Now, with a little help from modern pharmaceuticals, I am one. Twice over.

I always wanted to be an aunt. Thanks to being  married to someone with seven siblings, I am one. Fourteen times over!

I always wanted to spend my days with words and I never wanted to leave college.  Now, I’m a college writing teacher!

I had a “friend” who once described me as someone who was “too easily pleased.”  But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s the old saw that contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want but the realization of how much you already have.  And if that means I’m too easily pleased, well, I can’t help but see it as a compliment as I look forward to whatever the future holds.

Bye y’all,



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As AWP Turns, Day Two



Well, old home week has commenced.  I missed my first session because Mary Ann Cain and were kibbitzing on our MFA experiences for two hours.  We had a great time.  Then I met Anna Leahy at the book fair (more on the BF later), got her new book of poetry, Constituents of Matter, got her to sign it and rushed off to the session on Key Developments in Creative Writing Research. 

Unfortunately, I missed Graeme Harper’s presentation, and only made it through the second before I had to leave because it felt like 115 degrees in the room.  My cheeks were burning even though I was fanning myself like crazy.  I hated to leave before it was over but it was that or pass out.  Could have been my first hot flash but I doubt it.  I “like” to think I’m still a little young for that. 

The next session, on the difference between the UK MA and the US MFA, was quite good (and considerably cooler).  I learned quite a bit, which is saying something since I’ve been researching the subject for some time. 

Saw Galway Kinnell after that, but, sadly, the room was huge and it was a little like watching a rock star from the nose bleeds.  At least I could munch my lunch–roasted chestnuts and a dunkin donuts coffee (heaven!) in anonymity.

Then, the book fair, the BEST PART, for two reasons.  One, it is HUGE this year; it literally takes up three floors.  I haven’t even seen it all yet and I already have lots of good stuff.  Two, I ran into my dear friend from George Mason days, Adrian Lurssen! I haven’t seen him in 11 years, since I attended his wedding!!  I’ve been following him via the web, since his time as tastemaker for Yahoo (the place to be after their stock soared), his “retirement” and his launch of a new literary magazine with Susan Tichy, Practice: New Writing + Art  (I’m bringing you home some copies, Monda), but it was oh so good to see him in person.  He is still generous with the bear hugs! Hopefully, we’ll find some time to get together and catch up in the next few days!  Of course, he asked about Chris Motto and wondered if she was here too.

After dashing back to the room, I learned three good friends from our Lafayette days, Jim and Tamara Wilson and Kelly Stern, were here as well and looking to have dinner.  We quickly ran to the Bedford St. Martin’s reception to fete Heather Sellers’ new multi-genre creative writing textbook, where I probably gushed too much both literally and figuratively, accidentally spilling wine (white, Thank God!) on a fiction writer from Vanderbilt.  Fortunately, it only hit her shoe.  I think I was just hepped up from the stimulation of running into all these old friends. 

Anyway, after that, we got to meet Jim, Tamara and Kelly for dinner and catch up on their lives.  Jim and Tamara teach at Flagler College in St. Augustine; Kelly is a free-lance children’s book editor in Toronto.  They all looked great.

Phew.  Another exhausting day.  I’m getting some great goodies for the giveaway, though (you can keep posting to enter through Feb. 4).  Next post, I’ll give you some specifics about what I’ve got and announce the 2008 Best Giveaway of the Conference Award (IMHO and, yes, Gettysburg Review is on the shortlist again).

Bye, y’all!


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As AWP Turns: And The Dance Card Fills


AWP has not yet begun in earnest, but after a bit of sightseeing (the MOMA and SoHo) we were able to pick up our programs and then meet with a friend, Wendell Mayo, who now teaches in the Bowling Green MFA, for dinner. Wendell was our teacher at Lafayette and a real mentor and role model for both of us, especially John.

I am exhausted from tromping hither and yon all day and catching up on some work, but I wanted to post SOMETHING.  So I thought I would post a list of the sessions I hope to attend in the next few days.  AWP does a neat thing with their conference program (hint hint, 4C’s)–they provide you with a sturdy detached cardboard foldout with a blank schedule on it where you can write in where you need to be and what you want to see in the next few days.  Called your Personal Planner it may as well be a dance card.  4C’s and NCTE give you a blank planner, but it’s on a flimsy page inside the conference book, so you can’t refer to it nearly as easily.

So, here goes:


Breakfast with Mary Ann Cain

Inside Publishing:  Editor’s Speak

Key Developments in Creative Writing Research

The MA in the UK and the MFA in the USA

Galway Kinnell: A Reading and Conversation

Bedford St. Martin’s Reception


K-12 Poetry Pedagogy

Heather Sellers and Anna Leahy are signing at the Bookfair

From Stories to Novels: Crossing the Great Divide

The Road Not Taken: Alternative Careers with the MFA

Old York, New York: A Picture of the UK’s Literary Culture

Keeping it Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Creative Nonfiction


Recognizing Common Ground: Creative Writer’s as Comp Teachers

The Art of Writing on Craft (with one of my fave writers, Charles Baxter!)

Judging Art: The Role of Assessment in Creative Writing

A Department of Our Own: Creative Writing in Independent Writing Programs (with our own David Harvey!)

Reading and Conversation w/ Martin Amis

Whew!  Will she make it to all of these or will she be trampled enroute to a crowded session, never to be heard from again?  Find out tomorrow in the next installment of . . .

As AWP Turns. . .


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New Strategy, New Post, Don’t Forget the Giveaway

Okay, I do believe a new strategy is called for and that involves thinking outside the box and giving myself permission to put the second half of the Golden Legacy review on the back burner because it’s keeping me from putting up new posts, as in I’ve had lots I’ve wanted the post in the last week or so, but the Miss Grundy in my head keeps wagging her withered finger at me and saying, “Not until you post the second half of that Golden Legacy review, young lady!”  Well, it’s taken me forty one years but I’m finally ready to say,

“Shut up, Miss Grundy!”

Ooh, that felt good.  “Shut up” is almost as bad as the F word in our house.  Never mind that the actual teacher I’m picturing as I write that must be long dead by now.

So, here is the first of many things I’ve been dying to share with you all.  A must see, it’s called The Literacy Site.  Clicking on the site once a day gives a book to a child in need!!! Books, folks!!! Almost as sustaining as food.  I plan to do my daily clicking!

Plus, the site is so much fun.  It is a clearinghouse for other charities besides The Literacy Site, so if you go to their store, you’ll find all kinds of groovy fair trade stuff at reasonable prices.  The kind of stuff you can get at Ten Thousand Villages or Oxfam only without leaving your computer.  Or the kind of cool international stuff you used to be able to get at Pier One–if you’re my generation or older, you know of which I speak.  Handmade wooden toys from South America.  Animal-shaped soap from Japan.  Oh, and if you want, there’s another part of the store where  you can spend more and send two Afghan girls to school ($20) or pay an Afghani teacher’s salary ($40).

And a substantial part of the proceeds goes to getting books into the hands of low income kids, who, according to the Literacy Site, quite possibly live in a totally bookless world.  I cannot imagine a bookless world!

All just for one click a day.  If you scroll down after you click, they’ll even show you how many books have been donated so far that day!!!  Almost as exciting as checking your Blog Stats!

 So go ahead.  Add it to your favorites right now. Go, Go!

Ah, so happy to be back posting.  I’ve been reading a wonderful book by Eric Maisel called Fearless Creating–I’ll be posting some great quotes from it very soon.  Great theory on creativity, right up the alley of this closet psychology junkie.

Meanwhile, I’m also packing to get ready for AWP, which I’m leaving for Tuesday.  I was at this same hotel for 4C’s last year and internet access was only spotty(though it never occurred to me to try the lobby for better wireless access, which I’ll do this time) so I’m not sure I’ll be able to post, but I’ll try.  Even though I’m getting into my usual “wah, I hate to leave my kids, I hate to fly,” mode, I’m also looking forward to some really interesting sessions and reconnecting with people like Anna Leahy (and picking up a signed copy of her new book of poems), Mary Ann Cain, Wendell Mayo and maybe even Bill Lychack if he’s able to be there.  And who ever else I run into in the elevator line; AWP is like old home week. Chris Motto won’t be able to be there, but I’m not trying to make her feel guilty about that or anything. Sniff, sniff.

And of course, snagging stuff at the bookfair.  And this time my husband will be with me (another thing to look forward to) which means I can spread out the booty over two suitcases and worry less about the luggage weight limit (which, FYI, is 50 lbs)!!

So, don’t forget to post between now and the 4th so that you’re entered in the giveaway!!

Bye y’all,



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Winners and New Contest Announced. . .

A photo essay (with an extra bit at the end):

The Goods:
The Goods” alt=”The Goods”>

Basket o'Entries” alt=”Basket O’ Entires”>

The Drawing” alt=”The Drawing”>

And the winners are. . .” alt=”The Winners”>

More specifically, the winners are:

Garrett Steele    Coraline

Karla Nathan     Coraline

Callmeabookworm  Neverwhere

Monda Fason         Neverwhere

Karen         Elivis and Olive

If you didn’t win this time around, don’t be too disappointed.  This was so much fun, I’m going to do another contest from January 4 to February 4, in honor of my birthday.  Also, I’m going to go to the Associated Writing Programs contest at the end of January which means another great bookfair and more great prizes.  The Gettysburg Review usually gives out the best ones (one year, an alarm clock, another sunglasses, this past year really cool coffee mugs). 

Congratulations to the winners–I’ll be emailing you for your address, but if you read this first go ahead and send it to me at stephv@uca.edu. And don’t forget, the next contest will be for all comments posted between January 4 and February 4.


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