who has had his mount closed... by an education...?
The CalArts MFA Writing Program and the CalArts School of Critical Studies present NextWords—a series of readings featuring new work by graduating MFA Writing students.
Please join us for the first two readings in the NextWords series at Skylight Books on Saturday, March 24 at 5pm and Friday March 30 at 7:30pm!

NextWords at Skylight Books
1818 N. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Saturday, March 24th at 5pm
Readers: Allison Carter, Daiana Feuer, Cory Garfin, Gerard Olson & Daniel Ruiz.

Allison Carter is an LA-based writer. Her work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in: Fence, P-Queue, 5_trope, The Big Ugly Review, 3rd Bed, Horse Less Review, 400 Words, and others.

Daiana Feuer writes fiction, with two novels and a screenplay in the works. She dabbles in video and pursues journalism. She interns at URB Magazine, and was editor of Artizen, the CalArts literary magazine. She is also interested in cartoons, tv, business, food and nature.

Cory Garfin lives and writes in a very blue apartment in Los Feliz. He is currently working on a collection of short, thematically linked, mixed genre pieces. Despite prevalent rumors, Cory has never actually been a pirate, but he is on staff at L.A.’s best bookstore, Skylight Books.

Gerard Olson was home-schooled in the dark forests of northern California’s Cascade mountain range. He did not attend high school. His fiction has been published in Opium magazine.

Daniel Ruiz is a fiction writer, poet, and highway brigand. Though he has several major works in progress, he is presently surviving off his good looks and charm.

Friday, March 30th at 7:30pm
Readers: Honey Crawford, David Earle, Maximus Kim, Leila Nichols & Nadine Rambeau.

Honey Crawford is a writer and actor. She has performed with Second City Chicago, Victory Gardens Theater, The Ma'at Association for African American Centered Theater, and Shakespeare Festival, LA. Honey is currently working on a dramatic/poetic text and an epistolary novel.

David P. Earle is a writer and sound artist. He is currently working on a series of essays and flash meditations called Done and Left Undone. He has made sound installations for a number of exhibitions including “Really Real” at Chicago Gallery 312 and the touring broadcast “Radio Transmission Orchestra.”

Maximus Kim is a literary terrorist and personal assistant to Chris Kraus. His novella-length manuscripts include I Dreamt I Was Kathy Acker, One Haiku About Eighteen Things and Break Bloom, Burn! His doctoral candidacy in the UK begins in the fall.

Leila Nichols is presently working on two projects, a semi-autobiography based on loosely interpreted facts and a short book of poetry.

Nadine Rambeau is a prose poet and short fiction writer. She also co-developed a puppet film that was recently named Best Short Fiction Video at the M.C.C. Video Festival in San Francisco.

Upcoming readings in the NextWords series include:
High Energy Constructs
Saturday April 21, 2007 at 8pm
Readers: Danielle Adair, Emily Eklund, Nicholas Grider, Joe Potts, Beth S. McNamara & Molly McPhee
990 N. Hill Street, Suite 180
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre (RedCat)
Saturday, May 12, 2007 at 3pm
A Showcase of Graduating MFA Writing Students
631 W. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012


what is the self-affirming pedagogy? ah, the parrot just ate my control key

from Kasey's blog, a quote thru from J Corey's

From Reginald Shepherd's latest post:

We live in a culture which robs people of social, political, and economic agency, making them feel as if their experience counts for nothing, while simultaneously insisting that everyone's every passing notion and experience is of supreme importance because it happened to them. These two aspects are concomitant with one another, the second offering an imaginary (that is, an ideological) compensation for the first.

This is an astute analysis of the impoverishing ethos of empty "self-affirmation" that too often characterizes the teaching of creative writing as a cultural industry. Reginald's comments throughout the post resonate with much of my own experience, in particular his observation that one of the major pedagogical hurdles for any teacher of poetry is the popular belief "that poetry is too subjective to judge, because it's all opinion and personal preference."

"vagueness is not a style."
I would maintain that this is not enough on its own to lift the pedagogical scene out of the "self-affirmation" level. It may serve to generate an impressive bank of professional "output" that students can use to establish and enhance their artisanal status, just as painting and music students can be taught certain techniques that mark them as "accomplished." This also--or most importantly--provides a way for the program to advertise its success: it has produced subjects who function as living testimonials of its efficacy in instilling recognizable, marketable aesthetic skills. A context for institutional competitiveness is manufactured thereby. The only difference between this and the carefree "express yourself" model of less competitive pedagogical situations is that the self being affirmed extends beyond the individual and into the corporate body of the institution. The program, institution, industry, all affirm themselves along with the student--whose affirmation remains largely at the level of imaginary compensation, except for those fortunate few who are actually able to ride that affirmation all the way to a paying career (and who then, likely as not, perpetuate the whole predatory pedagogical system via their own students).

only the lowest level of students, generally the students who come to creative writing -- especially the bizrre intro to creative writing course most often taught as a survey of writing in a number of different genres (of which teaching
"fiction" or narrative free verse of the sort which is a short short broken into lines is generally the easiest since most students have read or can be easily encouraged to read fiction, and if they are reading even merely for pleasure, can at least be encouraged into writing a fairly decent autobiographical scene or two) -- are entering for an "easy grade" and come to class with the "you can't judge what I write" attitude -- this tends to quickly get purged out of visual art since one can easily separate design / structure from drawing, form from color, etc.

perhaps the problem is more clearly that there is currently a perception that there are more sucky "educated" poets out there perpetuating their bad art than sucky painters? we call know there are more sucky guitar players out there -- and decent guitar players the vagaries of the marketplace didn't accomodate, but they are mostly not educated -- so perhaps the more reasonable cognate would be "jazz musicians" or "composers" than "guitar players"

as reginld sheperd (sp?) responds

Due to the heavily policed institutional borders between creative writing and criticism or literature, the interrelationship of the two is often obscured. Creative writers, seeing themselves as the keepers of the sacred flame of literature, engage in frequent polemics against the invariably destructive encroachments of theory on creativity, while theorists largely ignore or at best disdain the unselfconscious effusions of authors who refuse to accept the news of their death. This state of affairs has always troubled me, for I have never felt the chasm between my writing and my critical intellect (or that between my emotions and my thoughts on which it is based) that so many seem not only to take for granted but determined to enforce on others.

and I would like to add here that there are two situations that exacerbate this division -- the location of creative writing -- esp. the MFA -- within English departments, rather than art departments (similarly, the separation of playwriting from other writing into theatre departments, not writing departments, the separation from critical nonfiction like reviewing from the new "creative nonfiction" most perpetuated by poets seeking to write something prosy for tenure -- AND the division, perpetuated by mostly slam poets outside, but difficultly, also inside, acadamy as the division between page and stage (see also separation of performance from both art and writing into theatre)

he goes on to blog

In creative writing courses and programs, student writing is too often expected to emerge from the vacuum of inspiration. The intention of the writer is conflated with the intention of the poem, because no other context is provided or produced for the work: thus the role of the creative writing teacher is simply to facilitate the student in finding and perhaps refining his or her own voice. This voice, like the self it stands in and expresses, is assumed to be pre-existent, needing at most to be shaped and developed. (This is a recent and socially constructed notion of selfhood and subjectivity....) ...I have heard creative writing instructors say that they specifically exclude outside reading from their classes in order to focus on student work, as if that work came forth with no connection to anything else that had ever been written. ... The unacknowledged assumptions underpinning both student reading and student writing (the reification of taste, the valorization of sincerity, the enshrinement of self-expression) ...

also, again with the beginning student:

Students come to creative writing courses with three major impediments to learning the art and craft of writing.

1) they tend to assume that because they speak English and are at least officially literate (though some lack basic mechanical writing skills), that they know how to write in the sense of writing poems.


the professor has not only read Paradise Lost or King Lear, but that she or he knows more about these texts than they do, though they often question the point of such knowledge. But students tend to enter creative writing classes unconvinced that there’s a subject to be taught at all

2) students find it very hard to separate themselves, their thoughts and feelings, or at best the subject of the poem, from the poem on the page, whether it’s a poem they have written or a poem someone else has.


they like a poem because they like or identify with its subject matter,... The poem is purely a vessel or vehicle of subject matter; students take criticism of their writing as criticism of themselves

3) students are very resistant to reading. They want to write poems without having read poems ... “Why are you making us read all this stuff and stifling our creativity?” ... creative writing students tend to dislike reading not only out of laziness or self-involvement, but out of a sense that it is actively antithetical to their own “creative process.”

I would rephrase this as "students think they already know how to write and how to read; they like to write but not to read. what they write is often from what they hear, not what they read.
went over to Josh Corey's blog today after a tour that included Micael Farrell's reviews multiblog for Austrlian poetry

found these by Kasey that -- this is an outgrowth of some thinking that's he's been thinking since prior to AWP Chicago about sufficiency and decent verse and teaching creative writing

I haven't finished reading Joshua's comments, or gone back to Kasey's or -- I guess -- Reginald Sheperd's (sp?) but since To Delite and Instruct covers some of this ground, and since I'm supposed to be applying for jobs while looking at open houses AND refinishing the solarium floor and working on Maryrose's book and a couple of websites for me and circulating books for review -- you get the idea --

some of these applications include sending old syllabi of mine, many of which are up on this blog

it occurs to me that it might be good to take a halfway decent painting MFA set of soursework and syllabi and translate to writing, because Kasey's comments seem to be cited in a teaching -- a pedagogy -- which is based in an MA / MFA dual, or a PhD creative writing (his is in lit, as is the one Corey's working on)

1. Some degree of grounding in various historical and intellectual contexts for the production and reception of poetry

this is really nice, but no coursework in an MFA program that I undertook covered this at all, and this asks the question, what types of literary study are relavant to those in art workshops? for very small programs, and with the multitude of programs, one would hope that class size is diminishing, it seems more ppropriate that this sort of study is best undertaken as a very small tutorial with 1-4 students who are pursuing like work

2. Some degree of immersion in contemporary poetic theory, as well as relevant political and philosophical studies

I think this is a good idea, with the translation of a workshop into more of a crit -- i.e., it then behooves everyone to have some real grounding in critical theory beyond reading some eagleton book

3. Some degree of engagement with the social and communal aspects of the poetic life, especially insofar as this involves stepping out of the institutional framework and looking critically at what it means to be within it in the first place, and what it means for other writers to be outside it

this is pretty much the case, except in very large public undergraduate institutions, and even there, the best students are doing something similar, there re hrdly any programs without student magazines and reding series, and the best students are always out in the community or have some from out in the community anyway

4. Some degree of consideration of what lies beyond "craft" as defined above: under what conditions might vagueness be considered a "style" worth taking seriously? when do the protocols of "precision, concision, and avoidance of cliché" fall short, and what might be the value of deliberate unwieldiness, ugliness, or banality in certain contexts? and what else is out there?

I think this is the heart of Kasey's concern, and I wonder how well the anxiety about craft (and sufficiency, goodness, etc.) is founded in the experience within writing programs; formal craft classes available are never enough to give the sort of grounding one would need to approach writing a book at a high level of craft in traditional form, yet there is a great deal of anxiety about teaching craft, and learning it, especially among students who've read little 20th century poetry;

there's no preventing the perverted versions of what lineage x poetry or lineage y poetry or even a pantoum is as communicated by second rate teachers to similarly uncomprehending -- and frankly uninterested -- students -- but the problem here is not that the qualifications, the work, the sample courses, the syllabi, or even the accomplishments of select former students are not telling, or showing; the avoidance of cliche is a pedagogical cliche, after all, as is the avoidance of ambiguity of grammatical and poetical types --


You are invited to the next installment of THE SMELL LAST SUNDAY READING SERIES,

This SUNDAY, MARCH 25th.

Featured readers:

Stephanie Taylor
Harold Abramowitz

Followed by: There's more than one way to use your lips,
The Aleatorics of Textual-Intercourse
(also known, less glamorously, as "Poetic spin-the-bottle")

Featuring Amanda Davidson
With confirmed players
Jane Sprague
Allison Carter
Matthew Timmons
Stephanie Rioux
Jen Hofer
Amar Ravva

The Smell is located at
247 S. Main Street
Between 2nd and 3rd Street
The entrance is through the back, by way of the alley, west of Main Street.

The doors will open at 6:30 pm. Five dollars at the door.

The Smell Last Sunday Reading Series is curated by Stan Apps, Teresa Carmody and Ara Shirinyan.

About the Featured Readers:

Harold Abramowitz is a writer and teacher who lives in Los Angeles. His chapbook, Three Column Table, was published by Insert Press. He co-organizes Late Night Snack, a literary cabaret at BetaLevel.

Stephanie Taylor received her M.F.A. from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. She has exhibited her work internationally and is represented by Galerie Christian Nagel, Köln, Germany and by Daniel Hug Gallery, Los Angeles. Her book, Chop Shop, was recently published by Les Figues Press.

Amanda Davidson is a San Francisco writer and multi-media artist. Her work has appeared in The Capilano Review, The Odyssey Zine, Baby, Remember My Name: An Anthology of New Queer Girl Writing, and elsewhere. Her recent work includes a poem cycle and video called Goodbye, MeatPants: Imaginary Postcards from a Real War, which premiered at New Langton Arts as a part of the Performance/Writing series. Find out more at partedinthemiddle.com.



WHAT: Artists and writers from Tijuana and San Diego's La Línea (The Line), an interdisciplinary artist collective, will be featured on MCASD's phone system now through March 2007.

*Poem Lines on Phone Lines will feature artists/writers Abril Castro, Jennifer Donovan, Jen Hofer, Kara Lynch, Lorena Mancilla, and Margarita Valencia Triana individually during the fall and winter months.

*Each of the participating women has recorded her own poems for listeners to hear, with a new featured poet each month.

*Simply dial 858 454 3541 x9 to listen to La Línea’s experimental literature either from any phone or as part of an extended Museum experience from phones set up in the galleries at MCASD La Jolla.

* La Línea is a binational feminist collective of women writers, artists, and theorists, founded in 2002 with the self-titled, collaborative publication.

*This project is in conjunction with the exhibition TRANSactions: Contemporary Latin American and Latino Art.

*Interviews with participating artists and writers can be arranged by calling 858 454 3541 x116.

WHEN: Now through March 2007

WHERE: On phone lines everywhere and in the galleries at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, 700 Prospect Street

For more information, call 858 454 3541 (media contacts use x119) or visit www.mcasd.org.
Women's human rights advocates and policymakers increasingly recognize that women are not a homogenous group of rights holders. In order to protect, promote, and advance women's human rights, advocates and policymakers must take into account differences among women with respect to age, socio-economic status, racial/ethnic background, religion, national origin, citizenship status, health/HIV status, sexual orientation, and disability, among others.


what does Hans Hoffman say about creativity and why do we care?

some notes on the teaching notes of this seminal teacher of new york school painters, the abstrct expressionists, wpa painters, and black mountain artists not the figurative painters a la fairfield

he talks about nature, by which he means the source of cretive activity
as separate from observation (of an exterior nature or "fact")

he talks bout negative space as *that which constellates* or throws into relation, that which is outside / between matter -- different from Pound

expression medium -- creation is translated into an interpretation for a given medium

while Hoffman emphasizes according to knowledge of nature/capacities of the medium (for the interpretation or translation) I'd emphasize that the same impulse expressed by the same artist in different media would be different translations / interpretations -- he gets to this later in the notes, but I didn't realize this when I took it down

art blends experience with a medium

art reflects what about the artist the artist expressed in the medium

the medium becomes the art in a masterwork

think of this re: language poetry and language in poetry and re: the medium is the message

he claims that our experiences yield a human centered universe (since we center our experiences)

"concept and execution condition ech other equally"

the greater the concept, the more profound and intensive the ... animation... of the medium -- yields -- more impressive and important work

two teachnical factors in creative writing: the symphonic animation of the page, the ornament of the page

he writes a lot about the puzzle of painting being translating three dimensions into two dimensions; in writing this is translating a reality that is heard and seen into (silent) signs, letters, etc.

each thing carries a meaning of its own and an associated meaning in reltion to other things: its essential value is relative

subject matter and presentation do not separtely produce the same effects as when related

the mind uses subject matter as a vehicle for creating a super-real effect
a number of these effects can for a work's emotional substance

"interval" art: in relation

ideas can only be materialized through media

the idea is transformed, adapted to and carried by the medium


form discloses through surface tension "form is the shell of life"

aesthetic enjoyment is caused by the perception of hidden laws
Walter Rathenau

I thought this quote - thru Hoffman -- ws especially interesting in light of debates about forms, constraints, sources, and telling readers what they are or not