~from intern Joyce Bohling

The reading of creative writing master’s theses on March 30 featured creative nonfiction M.A. candidate Dana Chellman and poetry M.F.A. candidates Denise Jarrott and Kylan Rice. Each reading featured unique style and subject matter, showing the diversity and creativity of work produced by students in the English department.

Poet Denise Jarrott was the first to read selections from her M.F.A. thesis. “What is it to live and wonder what living is about?” asked Jarrott’s advisor, Dan Beachy-Quick, in his introduction. This, Beachy-Quick said, is the ambitious question which Jarrott’s work poses.

Jarrott began her reading with selections from her collection “Letter Sonnets”; each of the twenty-six sonnets in this collection is titled with a letter of the alphabet. I noticed, as Jarrott read, how embodied her poetry is. One of her sonnets included the passage, “I do not know what it means to have a mind, but I can guess what it is to have a body.” This seemed to describe a theme weaving through many of the poems she selected from this collection: the sonnets dwelt on the physical rather than the meta-physical. Jarrott’s second set of sonnets, all called “Closet,” imagined what she might have found in the pages of her great-great-grandfather’s journal, which was destroyed.

Next Dana Chellman read excerpts from her essay “How to Get to Heaven from Colorado,” which was recently awarded the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ Intro Journals Award and will be featured in the upcoming issue of the Iron Horse Review. The essay about her older brother with bipolar disorder uses the trope of maps. In her introduction, Chellman’s advisor Sarah Sloane said that “Dana’s maps are both anchor point and illusion.” These maps include scientists’ recent project to map the Milky Way galaxy, her brother’s treasured road atlas, and the MRI used to diagnose and identify a cause for his mental illness. Each of these maps is necessary as it is imperfect, full of unknowns and uncertainties.

The reading returned to poetry with the evening’s final reader, Kylan Rice. Dan Beachy-Quick, also Rice’s advisor, praised Rice’s poetry: “These poems…realize the world, but also live in it.” Many of Rice’s poems dwelt on images from his childhood. “There are certain images I can’t let go of,” especially images of fruit, he said, laughing. But while these childhood poems were light and uplifting, Rice’s reading took a turn for the darker as he transitioned to grim subjects, especially in his final set, a series of poems on enucleation, the removal of the eye from its socket. I was startled by the gruesome theme, but when Rice read the line, “All that are left to me are my eyes,” I began to think through the idea of enucleation and what it means for a poet to lose the ability to see, both literally and as a metaphor for the many ways that poets and poems themselves witness the world.

The next graduate thesis reading will be this Thursday, April 13 at 7:30 pm in the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art.

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Photo by: Larry Moyer, from http://www.shelsilverstein.com/

Some poetry connects generations together, drawing them in at an early age through fun rhymes and silly images. Shel Silverstein has become synonymous with children’s poetry, the type of poetry that sticks with its readers well into adulthood.

Most children are familiar with poet Shel Silverstein’s work and the fun pen drawings that often accompany his poems. Silverstein’s poetry has been translated into over 30 languages and sold over 20 million copies. Probably one of his best known poems is “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” which was also the name of one of his poetry collections.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1930, he began his career as a cartoonist at the age of 7 by tracing over Al Capp’s cartoons. Silverstein attended Roosevelt High School and got expelled from the University of Illinois which lead him to enroll in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Drafted by the United States Army before completing his degree, he served in Japan and Korea.

Silverstein then studied English at Roosevelt University where he got his first cartoon published in the student newspaper, Roosevelt Torch. From there, his career skyrocketed with cartoons published in Look, Sports Illustrated, and This Week. In 1957, he was a leading cartoonist for Playboy, a role which sent him around the world creating a travel journal.

His children’s books have gained popularity among young (and older) readers. His most notable collections include The Giving Tree (1964), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974), and A Light in the Attic (1981). A Boy Named Sue won the 1970 Grammy and Silverstein was inducted in the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame in 2014, after his death in 1999.

Silverstein is known for not giving interviews, but was passionate about his work. In a 1975 interview with Publisher’s Weekly, he said “I have an ego, I have ideas, I want to articulate, to communicate but in my own way. People say they create only for themselves and don’t care if they’re published…I hate to hear talk like that. If it’s good, it’s too good not to share. That’s the way I feel about my work.”

But he also ended this interview explaining that “I’m not going to give any more interviews.” As readers, we will just have to let Silverstein’s work speak for itself.

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Image by Jill Salahub

  • Next Wednesday, Doug Cloud will be giving a workshop for the School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES) Sustainability Fellows titled “Talking Science with Conservative, Religious and Other Potentially Skeptical Audiences.”
  • Tobi Jacobi participated at the recent Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) through a panel presentation entitled, “Not “All Ellas”: Risking Exploitation in a Prison Public Memory Project,” and a preconference prison teaching workshop (“The Prison Next Door: What Types of Connections Do We Want to Cultivate?”).
  • Michael Knisely’s Boulder’s Rocky Ridge Music Academy photography exhibit runs through April, he will also showcase additional photographs as part of the Month of Photography exhibit at the ACE Storage gallery on north Broadway also in Boulder. A collaboration of poets and visual artist’s exhibit at the First Congregational Church at Broadway and Spruce Streets in Boulder will feature two of his poems. He will also be reading from his poetry work as part of a large poetry reading this Friday for the First Friday Arts event at the First Congregational Church, which runs from 6:30 – 8:00 this Friday evening.
  • Dan Robinson’s paper, The Second Battle of the Champagne & the Inexpressibility Topos, has been accepted for the XVIII International Hemingway Conference in Paris next summer.
  • Morgan Riedl (MA in CNF, 2017) has a piece up on Brevity’s blog.  It’s a hermit crab essay in the form of a workshop critique of Sean Spicer’s press conferences.  You can read it here: https://brevity.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/workshop-comments-for-sean-spicer/
  • Catie Young’s poem “Merrily Merrily M​errily Merrily” is in the new issue of The Volta: ​http://www.thevolta.org/twstbs-poem185-cyoung.html
  • On April 21, John Calderazzo will read an essay at the Sacred Mountains and Landscapes conference at The New School.  The essay will discuss a centuries-old agricultural ritual in the Peruvian Andes he attended in which Quechua people have recently changed their behavior because of the climate change induced shrinking of their glaciers.
  • Felicia Zamora’s (MFA ’12) first book, Of Form & Gather, winner of the 2016 Andrès Montoya Poetry Prize, was released on February 28 from the University of Notre Dame Press. Of Form & Gather is listed as one of the “9 Outstanding Latino Books Recently Published by Independent and University Presses” by NBC News. Her manuscript Galaxy Inside Your Inadequately Small Heart was selected as a finalist in the 2017 Alice James Award and the 2017 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry. Her poem “In all the pretty roam” was featured on Zòcalo Public Square on Friday, March 17 and her poem “Virgule” was selected by The Georgia Review for publication. Zamora read her poetry for the AKO Collective’s Day Without A Woman recognition event on March 8.
  • Kathleen Willard will be the BreckCreate Breckenridge Creative Arts Tin Shop Guest Artist in Residence for the month of April. In addition to working on her new poetry manuscript, she will give a poetry reading, conduct four poetry workshops, and host a community poetry reading. She hosts Open Studio Hours at the Tin Shop Thursday through Sunday to talk about poetry and share her process. The BreckCreate website has details of her events.

Checkout the English Department’s new lunch counter!  In response to our See Change 2 request for more common space for faculty and staff, we have put the west end of Eddy to work. Two lunch counters are open and ready to entice you out of your offices for lunch and conversation. We will devote the exhibit space above each counter to departmental work on diversity and inclusion for at least the first year.

  • The northwest corner launches this new “Counter Talk” space with an exhibit featuring the 1960 Greensboro lunch counter sit-in and additional images — including two from the Smithsonian’s 2010 50th anniversary celebration.  Look here for some interesting ways to incorporate such moments into your courses: http://americanhistory.si.edu/freedomandjustice.

Stay tuned: Jaime Jordan’s exhibit featuring a moment in her CO150 course will be added next week to the southwest counter.

 

The English department has FOUR different writing contests running right now. Check out the details here, and submit something!

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