Tag Archives: Creative Writing

Barbara Ungar Reading May 21

College of Saint Rose English Professor Barbara Ungar will read from her work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany on Thursday, May 21 at 7:30PM.

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Barbara Ungar has published four books of poetry, most recently Immortal Medusa and Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life, both Hilary Tham selections from The Word Works. Her prior books are Thrift and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Press Poetry Award, a silver Independent Publishers award, a Hoffer award, and the Adirondack Center for Writing poetry award. She is also the author of several chapbooks and Haiku in English. She has published poems in Salmagundi, Rattle, The Nervous Breakdown, and many other journals. A professor of English at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, she coordinates their new MFA program. For more information, please see Barbaraungar.net.

The event also includes an open mic.

Sign-up starts at 7:00PM, with the reading beginning at 7:30.

The suggested donation is $3.00.

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Notes from Minneapolis – An AWP Interview

Welcome back students and faculty from your trip to the 2015 AWP Conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota!  Thanks so much for representing our department and The College of Saint Rose!

We asked students about conference, and here are some fun facts, photos, and thoughts from the trip!
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What was your favorite part about AWP? 

Sarah Sherman: The Write Bloody Super Poetry Party Showcase of Sweetness. Specifically, hearing Sarah Kay.

Amber O’Sullivan: The poetry readings and getting to talk to the poets after and get better acquainted with their work and writing process and selves.

Alyssa Cohorn: So many samples of literary magazines to take home! Not only are they great for airplane reading material, but you can really get a sense of where your writing could fit in and where it definitely doesn’t.

Samson Dikeman: The bookfair and the chaos of it.  I love that people will jump out at you and offer you free books and pens.

What was your least favorite part about AWP?

Sarah Sherman: Hearing uncontrollable laughter from a writer when she was told my thesis was a collection of essays written in the second person. (This was also a great moment, too, because it gave me a needed push to show people that maybe I can do this…and do it well. But, in reality, I’m sensitive, and it scared me.)

Amber O’Sullivan: Too much happening. Panels, booths, ahhh writers!

Alyssa Cohorn: Bar tabs.

Samson Dikeman: The weather.  It got much better, but a few of us walked to the conference in the rain one day.  It snowed another day.

Did you get to meet any authors that have inspired you?

Sarah Sherman: I met Sarah Kay, a poet, who is inspiring as a female writer.

Amber O’Sullivan: Yes! I met Joy Harjo and Simon Ortiz and got their autographs while my heart exploded a little from the inside out.

Alyssa Cohorn: Several. And I met some new authors that are now great inspirations.

Samson Dikeman: I got to hear some really amazing poets at the Write Bloody reading.

What were some of the panels you attended?  Thoughts on those?

Sarah Sherman: The most helpful panel I went to was called “Yes, Writing Is a Job: People Who Get Paid to Write.” It opened my eyes to different opportunities after getting an MFA and panelists provided helpful resources for finding these jobs.

Amber O’Sullivan: I went to “Character IS Plot, Plot IS Character” which was okay. The writers had a lot of varying advice that was sometimes contradicting though. I went to Post MFA tips as well which was worse since it was basically four people saying that you won’t have anything post MFA unless you get a residency, grant or fellowship. Thanks guys.

Alyssa Cohorn: I attended one on what to do after getting your MFA, and it amounted to an extended infomercial for people’s grants or weird artist colonies. I suggest finding out where your inspirations are talking and going from there.

Samson Dikeman: I made it through 14 minutes of one panel which was a record for me.  I don’t know what it is about the panels but I have a tough time staying focused while I’m there.

Favorite booth/journal?  Why?

Sarah Sherman: No Tokens Journal.  They were my favorite because they engaged with me the most. I got to speak with the nonfiction editor and asked her specific questions about my own work, which was encouraging. I plan to submit to them asap.

Amber O’Sullivan: Write Bloody because they were super fun to chill with and visit and they publish some of my favorite poets.

Alyssa Cohorn: Barrelhouse  was really cool and gave me a tiny plastic monkey.

Samson Dikeman: My favorite booth was the Write Bloody/University of Hell press booth.  I really enjoy the authors they put out.

What are your thoughts on Minneapolis?

Sarah Sherman: Unlike some of the others I traveled with, I wasn’t too impressed with Minneapolis. I’m sure a lot of it had to do with the day after day grayness in the sky (we got sun on our final days, thank God.) I always enjoy traveling to new places, though, so I don’t regret coming. I did have some tasty meals, so I guess that’s a plus.

Amber O’Sullivan: I love this city. Friendly, happy, interesting people, lots of dogs, weather is wild, fun bars, great restaurants, loving it.

Alyssa Cohorn: I LOVE THIS CITY. It’s weird, the weather is bizarre, and I’m still not sure I understand what a light rail is, but it was a good time and the people are overly friendly.

Samson Dikeman: Minneapolis is an interesting city with a seemingly inordinate amount of sex shops.  Other than that observation, I found it to be a charming city with some extremely kind and generous people.

Any tips or tricks about surviving a 3 day conference filled with writers and publishers?

Sarah Sherman: Be brave. Don’t let the intimidation of being around 11,000 people trying to do the same thing you are stop you from enjoying yourself.

Amber O’Sullivan: Deep breaths, network your ass off. Talk about your writing to these people, make an impression, and talk to these writers about writing!

Alyssa Cohorn: Bring comfy shoes; get ready to ask the same questions a lot, and pack enough concealer to hide your exhaustion.

Samson Dikeman: You have to take breaks and give yourself space in order to survive AWP.  There is so much energy (creative and otherwise) that you’ll get worn out if you don’t take naps.

Lee Geiselmann: Take it really slow. Don’t try to do everything in one day. Only go to 2 panels a day, but have a few backup panels to attend in case the ones you want to go to aren’t really what you want to see. Go to the readings at night.

Describe AWP in one word.

Sarah Sherman: Overwhelming

Alyssa Cohorn: Overwhelming.

Samson Dikeman: Dynamic.

Lee Geiselmann: Inspiring.

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Congrats to MFA student Juliet Barney! Plus an interview!

Congratulations to MFA student Juliet Barney for receiving a graduate research grant.  Juliet plans to use the grant money for traveling expenses to Lake Placid to research the setting for her thesis novel.  To celebrate her accomplishment we decided to do an interview with her to get more information on the grant and the writing process!

First, congrats on receiving a graduate research grant!  What do you plan on doing with the grant? 

One of the main issues I’ve faced while working through my thesis is differentiating it from other realistic young adult novels. Capturing the essence of teenagers is a difficult task and for my novel, I’m aiming to portray a realistic view of the modern teenager growing up in a small town–specifically, Lake Placid–where I grew up. But, I’m seven years removed from that specific lifestyle and I’m going to use the grant to conduct hands-on research with current students.

I’m working with English teachers at the high school, coordinating dates and times where I will go in and guest teach classes – introduce creative writing, share my experience with writing, and conducting interviews with students about their current experiences. I’ll be simultaneously gathering information to personalize my novel to the small town experience while spreading the knowledge I’ve gained during my time at Saint Rose.

You have been working on your thesis this semester.  Now that the semester is coming to a close do you have any advice for students on time management, the process of writing the thesis, or any other helpful hints that they might use when facing this big task toward graduation?

The process of writing my thesis has been a completely eye-opening experience. It’s not like I’m writing a paper for class that will go into an electronic file, never to be seen again. This is something that I will, hopefully, publish once I’m finished. So, it’s less like school work, and more like a glimpse of what post-grad life will be like. As a result, I was forced to abandon my usual dance of procrastination and figure out what time management even meant.

I set a strict schedule, like it was a real job. I woke up every morning at 7am, made a cup of coffee, and forced myself to write three pages a day until I reached my page goal. Now, I follow the same schedule, but instead of adding three pages, I revise a scene every day.

Creating a set schedule was my saving grace. It forced me to move forward at a steady rate allowing me an enormous amount of time for revisions. Otherwise, I would still be writing in circles, playing catch up.

Now that you have been entrenched in the thesis writing process have you found any new authors or books that helped you in your research of the young adult novel?

Researching young adult novels has proven rather difficult. Essentially, my only resource is current YA fiction. The status of YA lit is widely debated. Many critics don’t believe it should be considered a literary genre, because it’s not worthy of criticism. So there isn’t a lot of of scholarly texts specific to writing YA lit. It’s forced me to get a little creative in which books to read and what fiction techniques work for YA, which is why hands-on research is so important for the creation of my novel. The research grant will really help in this aspect.

What are your post-graduation plans? 

I want to write and write and write until I’ve said everything I’ve ever wanted to say. 

What do you think you will miss the most from your experiences at the College of Saint Rose?

I’ll miss the relationships. I’ll miss my professors and their willingness to help me work through any professional woes. I’ll miss my classmates with whom I’ve formed lifetime bonds with and I’ll miss the barista at Starbucks who has memorized my order.

It’s not that these relationships will disintegrate when I walk across the stage, but I won’t be able to experience the daily community atmosphere. I spent seven years at Saint Rose working towards this ultimate goal and I’ll miss the community that helped me get to this point.

MFA Student Juliet Barney

MFA Student Juliet Barney

Upcoming Event: MFA student Sarah Sherman reading

College of Saint Rose student Sarah Michelle Sherman will read from her work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 7:30PM.

Sarah Michelle Sherman is a writer, teacher, bartender, graduate student pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at The College of Saint Rose, and managing editor of Pine Hills Review. Her work has appeared in Nailed MagazinePloughshares OnlineThe Helix, and Decades Review. She is also a contributing writer for Albany’s alternative newspaper, Metroland.

The event also includes an open mic.

Sign-up starts at 7:00PM, with the reading beginning at 7:30.

The suggested donation is $3.00.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Writers: An Interview with MFA Student Kimberley Daigle

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Welcome to another  installment of WWTA. Over the course of the year, we’ll  be interviewing the writers who make up the first class of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. This week we corresponded with Kimberley Daigle over email.

Kimberley was raised in Clifton Park, NY.  In high school she was the “classic dorky honors kid” who went to school on senior skip day and did extra credit assignments even if she already had an A+. She ‘s still a dork today, only now she wears makeup. In addition to being a dork she’s also a writer, a student, and a cat lady. Her favorite writing genres are memoir and non-fiction. “I like knowing that I am investing my time and brainpower in total truths,” she says.

What drew you to the MFA program?

Well, I got my Bachelor’s from Saint Rose in Adolescent Education with a concentration in English. I always knew I would need a Master’s degree, but I didn’t always know I wanted to pursue an MFA. Now, the reason I chose my concentration was because I have always loved English, and more specifically writing. It seemed like each semester I would get to take one literature course, and maybe a writing course. Continue reading

Elisa Albert, Rebecca Wolff Reading on March 15

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Join the College of Saint Rose MFA in Creative Writing program for a book reading by our Visiting Writer, Elisa Albert, who will be joined by poet and fiction writer Rebecca Wolff on March 15 in Huether Hall, 994 Madison Avenue, in Room 200, from 5-7 p.m. Free food and drink will be provided.

Both writers’ books will be available for sale at the event. Continue reading

Saint Rose Theatre Festival: Call for Entries!

Here is a message from the Saint Rose Theatre Festival Director Chris Lovell:

“I have always had a passion for theatre as you know, and last year I saw an idea I had for a while come to the stage. I started the Saint Rose Theatre Festival last year and it was a lot of fun for everyone. It was a one-night engagement of staged readings. All of the scenes performed were written by Saint Rose students in the graduate play script course. The scenes ranged from a conversation between a radio host and his producer to a unbelievably ignorant couple having dinner in a restaurant. This year, I will have opened up the festival for all Saint Rose students to submit scenes for consideration. Scenes can be submitted electronically via the festival’s website (www.theatrefestival.info) up until Friday, December 14th at 11:59PM. The festival is expanding to an entire weekend for performances, giving a better opportunity for the community to see the great work of Saint Rose students on stage.

College is a time of exploration. So many opportunities appear for students to explore the world around them and to find something they are truly passionate about. How many people do you know that have the opportunity to write something and then see it performed on stage in front of an audience or be an actor in a world premiere? That is what the Saint Rose Theatre Festival is all about, providing a creative outlet for new and exciting materials for anyone to see. It is a create outlet, not only for writers and actors, but it allows for others to be creative. Check out the logo for the festival that was designed by a 2012 Saint Rose Graduate!

Any student that is interested can submit a piece to be considered for production during the festival. Submissions can cover any topic a student is interested, and the piece may be of any theatrical genre with the exception of musical theatre.”

Submissions must follow the formatting guidelines posted on the festival’s website (PDF can be found here).