Friday, May 28, 2010

Maya Washington '06 wants your creative writing

Dearest Friends and Creative Fam-

I am editing the White Space Poetry Anthology and I don't have any poems to edit! I sent out the following call for submissions a few weeks ago and have only received a few submissions. Please spread the word, submit your own work and forward this to colleagues. And for all my teaching artist friends, please encourage your star students to submit.

White Space Poetry Anthology
Deadline extended 6/15/10

The White Space Poetry Anthology is a collection of poetry, creative non-fiction, and art that use white space, literal or metaphorical to connect to thoughts and ideas.

We are also interested in voice as it pertains to the artist's point of view: be it regional, cultural or individual perspectives. There are no guidelines with regard to subject matter--we are mostly interested in how you use white space in your work and how it relates to your artistic point of view. Simultaneous and previously published work is welcome. If you are a multi-genre artist, please include pieces that include text and visual art.

Poetry: submit up to 6 poems.

Creative non-fiction: submit up to 6 short prose poems, or short creative non-fiction.

Art Work: submit up to 6 images.

Please send your electronic submission, along with your name, email, postal address, and a brief bio (60 words or less) to Selected submissions will appear in print and online. There is no pay for contributors. If your work is selected you will receive a contributor copy of the anthology and recognition on our site.

- Maya Washington

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spotlight on Michele Campbell '07

Michele Campbell - MFA Creative Nonfiction - 2004-2007

I blog at

I wrote a screenplay and turned it into a movie with Todd Wardrope (MFA 2010).  It can be seen on the YouTube, and there's a link right here with all the credits.  It was created for the Women Stand Up and Shoot comedy short film competition through IFP Minnesota.  We didn't win, but it's a fantastic movie anyway, and we're still entering it into contests.

Also, I am writing a one woman show for the Fringe Festival.

Title: Pardon My French.
Venue: The Playwrights' Center (2301 Franklin Ave. E)
Performance times:
Thursday, August 5 - 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 7 - 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 8 - 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 11 - 8:30 p.m.
Friday, August 13 - 7:00 p.m.

For more information about the Minnesota Fringe Festival, please click

There you go!

- Michele

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's not all fish in acid: Why Robert Desnos matters (to me)

Before GLS, I had only a glancing acquaintance with Surrealism.  It consisted of my firm dislike for Dali paintings, which always made me feel slightly ill.  Then I met Robert Desnos in one of Deborah Keenan's classes, and I fell in love with what Eddie Hirsch referred to as his “deeply joyous and wildly stubborn” self.  One of my assignments was to research Desnos, and I did so enthusiastically.  Now, years later, I think I finally understand those Dali paintings, and I owe it all to Desnos.

Very Brief Summary

He had somewhat humble beginnings, a dramatic life in an interesting time and place surrounded by interesting people and ideas.  (You should read about them.)  He wrote whatever he wanted, however he wanted, and no one could tell him what he could or could not write, not Breton (the leader of the Surrealist movement) and not even the Nazis.  He died a tragic death. 

Why I love Desnos

He wasn't afraid of forms or free verse.  He wasn't afraid of being labeled a commercial sellout when he started working in radio and advertisement, using writing to, gasp, make a living.  He wasn't afraid to call the Surrealists out when he thought they were being ridiculous ("Comrades" is pretty great).  He didn't think he could only write with one voice, and there was no experiment he woulnd't try.  He laughed at people who looked down their noses at him, and he kept doing what he wanted: writing whatever he wanted however he wanted.  He didn't care if you understood; he didn't care if HE understood.  He just wrote. 

From a poem I wrote to Desnos

I want to read everything you wrote
so maybe I can be brave like you
some day maybe I can write
fearlessly like you whatever however
I want with a merry smirk
at all of those who say you can't

"Love like fish swims in acid"

I got my chance to read what he wrote when we looked at The Voice of Robert Desnos for the April Poetry Book Club meeting.  Finally, I had the excuse I needed to read a somewhat comprehensive and chronological selection of his work.  It was like watching someone grow up.  From that irritatingly incomprehensible automatic writing poetry (whose practitioners started going a bit crazy) to his tediously extensive love affair with unrequited love to his mostly sometimes slightly more comprehensible later works, Desnos was all over the place, and there's always something to like.

In the earlier poems, it was usually a single phrase that made sense amidst the seemingly randomly assembled flotsam of the unconscious mind.  I could grab onto that weird and beautiful bit and hold on for dear life, letting the rest of the poem wash past me.  Later, when he was being viciously political or sly or playful or in reciprocated love (finally), sometimes a whole poem could keep me in its world.  But those earlier ones . . . 

Why GLaaS matters

And then, that moment of insight I never could have had if I hadn't been sitting with a group of smart people discussing why I still liked Desnos even when he didn't make any sense to me.  "I can't see pictures in my head," I said.  "I can't visualize like most people can.  People have tried to explain Surrealism to me, and I have stared at Dali's paintings for as long as I could bear, and they meant nothing to me.  But when I read this early stuff by Desnos, when I see these ideas as words thrown down in a poem randomly together, suddenly, I understand what Surrealism is; I feel like maybe I understand Dali paintings now that I've seen them as text."

I even got a poem out of the evening, one of those muse-gift ones where something you've been reading and something else you've been contemplating collide just right, and you complete the poem right then!

Always at least half-full

Anyway, one of the reasons we started GLaaS is to make sure alumni can continue to have those discussions that lead to those moments of insight we remember so well from our classes.  Just because we have our degrees doesn't mean we can't still experience that kind of learning.  I, for one, am glad.  Also, Jean's porch is outstanding.  Hope to see you there this summer.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Q & A with the Poetry Book Club

May 25th, we're discussing Towards the Forest by Holaday Mason.  In case you haven't made it out to a Poetry Book Club meeting, I asked Jean Larson, one of the leaders, some questions about the book club and the upcoming meetings.

How are the books chosen?  The original attendees nominated options by email last August and September and brainstormed a great list. Then we voted for our top picks.  So far this effort continues to provide us with a reading list.

What can you tell us about May's author?  Holaday Mason lives in California, and even emailed me after she googled herself and found that we’d chosen her book to study.

Any particulars you're excited about discussing?  Holaday’s line, “I might have been anyone”

What’s next?
Tuesday, June 29th:  The Wellspring by Sharon Olds
Tuesday, July 27th:  In the Bird Museum by Kristy Bowen
Tuesday, August 31st: National Monuments by Heid Erdrich

See you at the next Poetry Book Club meeting.  (last Tuesday of every month)

Please email Jean at for more information.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Alumni Poetry Book Club: May 25

The Hamline GLS Alumni are hosting a Poetry Book Club on the last Tuesday of each month from 7:30-9pm at Jean Larson's house. On May 25, we will discuss the book  Towards the Forest by Holaday Mason.

This is an incentive for graduates interested in poetry to read a whole book of poems, to come up with questions/insights/what works what doesn't/ favorite moments, and discuss them with alumni. You can sit back, engage, read part, read all. Come monthly, come sometimes. Flexible and low key--unless someone decides to raise a ruckus!--you know how poetry can affect some of us.

Please email Jean at for more information.

"Green Light Send-off" Graduation Reception : May 22

Saturday, May 22
3:00 pm 
GLS Backyard (1500 Engelwood Ave.)

May 22 is graduation day at Hamline University, and we’d like to invite our alumni to come back and help us celebrate at the annual Green Light Send-Off.  The party will begin around 3:00 pm in the backyard of the GLS house immediately following the commencement ceremony (which begins at 1:30 pm.)

The reception is open to all members of the GLS community--graduates, their guests, faculty, and alumni.

The Green Light Send-Off is the bookend experience to our annual Gatsby Party that welcomes new students into the program each fall.  If you'd like to attend, please RSVP to or the Facebook event page, so we can get idea of the number of people to expect.  And don't worry if you can't attend graduation; the real party begins afterward at GLS anyway!