Creative Nonfiction Week

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This past week, the Nonfiction Program hosted its annual Creative Nonfiction Week. Creative Nonfiction Week is a collaborative event that brings the Journalism, Fiction, and Nonfiction programs together. Each department invites several guest writers, chooses a faculty member to read from their creative work , as well as a student to read from there’s. For Nonfiction, our student reader was first-year Nonfiction student Caitlynn Martinez-McWhorter and our faculty member was Ames Hawkins. Kudos to both for sharing their writing with our department and the other departments, as well!

I attended Claudia Rankine’s reading on Monday evening (Rankine was invited to read by the Nonfiction program). Rankine is one of my favorite writers. I’ve read Don’t Let Me Be Lonely three times and each time I find new bits of language that inspire me. I’ve also read her book of poetry, The End of The Alphabet, (follow this link for a sound clip!) three times and most recently swiped a line from it for a project that I’m working on this semester. If you haven’t figured it out yet, yes, I find her infinitely inspiring. And you know I had her sign my books.

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I also attended the South Loop Review: Creative Nonfiction + Art‘s Publication Release Reading and Reception. Two Nonfiction MFA students were featured in the magazine, as winners of the Spring 2011 Student Essay Contest judged by Jenny Boully. Wes Jamison read from his piece, “The Secret Garden” and Ryan Spooner read from his piece, “On the Lifespan of a Fact.” I am always so excited to hear my peer’s work read aloud. I was also pleased with the turnout and the fact that the new issues were complimentary!

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The South Loop Review is a largely student-run publication that looks for the segmented, the lyric, the graphic and experimental essay. In true experiment form, Wes Jamison, during the panel following the reading, described his revision process as one where he physically cuts his essay into pieces and tapes them all over his wall, staring at them for sometimes months at time, making revisions and changing the order. Ryan Spooner spoke of a similar process of splicing together several essays that were all dealing with the same subject matter.

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Also featured at the event (from left): Poetry MFA Leif Haven, photographer Marc Perlish, Nonfiction Undergraduate Jenny Buschner (also a contest winner), writer Lili Wright and Columbia Graphic Design Alum  Ben Ludwig.