[DR] Monday, Oct. 28th

by Giorgia (’14)

On Monday we returned to the classroom from our annual camping camping trip at Kirby Cove sleepy and smoke-smelling with fresh faces and new stories. Among which Heather learned to play snaps, Giorgia (’14) tried to teach samba, Justus (’15) was a sexy bookcase, the freshmen underwent forceful (and ultimately unsuccessful) segregation, the Schott-Rosenfield (’14, ’17) sibling rivalry went crashing into the sea, and Colin (’16) finally took down Jules (’14), our own departmental kraken, during our traditional beach romp. Mostly, it was just, as the young ones say “cold as balls.”

Obviously, we had a lot to discuss on Monday. We did this eating delicious peanut butter chocolate cookies Noa (’16) made for her writing buddy, Lizzie (’14) (happy 17th birthday lizz!), and leftover croissants, potato chips, and izzes from the trip. We talked about our favorite moments, what went well and what didn’t.

After our Kirby Cove debrief, the freshmen went off to the dark cavern they call “Freshmen Seminar” with Maia, and the rest of CW settled down with Sarah Fontaine (<3) for umläut. It’s early on in the year, so we are currently lying out preliminary framework, along with rebooting umläut‘s online presence and overall mission statement.

That evening, five seniors– Midori Chen, Mykel Mogg, Giorgia Peckman, Frances Saux, and Abigail Schott-Rosenfield —read at the Book Club of California (of which Abigail is a member). We were asked to the Book Club by Abigail’s grandmother, Kathy, earlier this year. Each of us read through a section of the Club’s collection (the club specializes in fine print press), mostly Tangram books, and each selected one or two works from which to write from. Our response poems focused on California history, and the relation of landscape and the individual. It was quite exciting to read our work outside of the school community, especially in such a rich and resonant environment full of so many monumental works.

We also sold a full set of umläut to the Book Club!

Umläut Release Party 2013

by Abigail (’14)

On Friday the third, Umläut had a successful (and profitable) release party for the 2014 issue, dubbed Plastic Knives! We pity everyone who wasn’t there, and we’re sure those who came didn’t regret spending the night before Prom with us.

While the prime attraction was, obviously, this year’s Umläut— as professional and polished as ever, but with a new matte cover this time— there was also great music by Rin Tin Tiger and Mayya Feygina, food donated by Arizmendi and CW parents, and a raffle. It was probably one of the balmiest days we’ll see this year, but most people managed to stay inside long enough to listen to several of the published authors read their work.

We couldn’t have done it without 826 Valencia’s generosity in offering us the space for the night, free! Thanks to the parents who contributed to covering what 826 usually charges.

If you missed the party, we trust you won’t make the same mistake again next year, but you can get your new Umläut at SOTA at lunch (we’re selling outside of the CW room) or by emailing abeschott@gmail.com. Soon it should be available to purchase online at http://sotashop.myshopify.com/products/umlautliterary-journal.

umläut

More of Carville Annex

by Abigail (’14)

Frances and I recently went to another Carville Annex reading. (This time it was at the Carville Annex building in the Sunset, not in a forest glen.) The reading was a lecture given by Molly Prentiss, “non-famous famous person” from Brooklyn, on– quoting  “aspirational objects…commercial tactics…and reasons why stories will not die.” It was also a party for the revamped Actually People Quarterly.

I got there a little early, so Sarah Fontaine, one of the Annex founders, invited me up to the attic to wait for everyone else to arrive. She told me about what she’s planning on teaching us in her CW unit later this year– it’s going to be about, as I understood it, the places where genres overlap and make new kinds of writing. I won’t reveal anything else, but she seemed very excited about it.

The reading was in the attic. Maybe 40 people were there– it certainly felt packed– and most were sitting on the floor. Before she started, Molly (it feels wrong to call her Ms. Prentiss when the setting of the reading was so intimate) handed out “non-linear” maps of the lecture, which was titled “The Necessary Narrative.” A picture of part of a map is shown below. It was especially useful afterwards, when I wanted to be reminded of all the things she’d touched on.

Molly Prentiss has not only a unique perspective, but also a unique style. She grew up in a commune in Santa Cruz; now she works in fashion advertising. She told us about her “fake,” unfinished novel, which might become a real, finished novel, without boring us, and about noblewomen’s long nails, and about her pretend childhood pony, Midnight. She was also funny. Although Frances and I were confused about how loudly people were laughing– she’d make a joke that wasn’t uproariously amusing, but everyone else was rolling… That part was slightly off-putting.

I wanted to read her lecture again after she finished. I haven’t searched for it yet, or tried to get ahold of her, but Frances and I got copies of the new Actually People Quarterly, which has some other Molly Prentiss pieces in it. I could bring mine in and leave it on the shelves in CW, if anyone else wants to share a good thing.

Coming up is another Carville Annex lecture:

Saturday, April 20th, 7pm
Inventory of Shimmers: The Neutral in Three Parts
a lecture by Colleen Stockmann

What a Few People Want to Say to the World

by Abigail (’14)

On December 16, Mykel, Midori and I went to a reading from Carville Annex. It was held in the Arboretum, in the redwood grove, which is difficult to find. I showed up early at the entrance and met some of the readers. None of them were sure about how to get to the redwoods. “We were hoping Sarah knew.”

Sarah Fontaine showed up. “Hey, where are we going?” we asked her. “Well…I don’t really know,” she said. So we started wandering. I noticed a sign that said, “Redwood Grove,” with an arrow, but nobody else seemed to. I was walking behind them, and they were too far away for me to mention it… Since they had they the map, I figured they knew what they were doing. Not really, but whatever. Someone said, “Even if nobody figures out where the reading is, they’ll have a great time walking around with the plants!”

“Yeah!”

“This place is rad, right? I love the weather!”

“Yeah!”

The entire reading had, in some ways, the tone of this conversation. Everybody was happy to be there, and everybody liked and trusted everybody else. The readers were all young—two were high school students, the rest were maybe twenty to twenty-eight. Many of the pieces were about not knowing how to be a good adult, or not knowing what the author’s place in the world was, but the readers were figuring it out… they were getting there. They were enjoying themselves along the way.

the halcyon bird, or Kingfisher

One of the pieces, a “sermon” for the holidays—“’Tis the goddamn season,” it began—explained (convincingly and hilariously) the importance of paying attention to one thing at a time. Apparently, “the ancients” believed that, for a few days during the holiday season, birds called Halcyons floated in nests on the sea, keeping it calm so people could celebrate. The author said that, this year, she’d celebrate the season by not multitasking— she’d try to live some halcyon days.

Her fellow readers seemed to be living halcyon days, too. They were all calm and appreciative and earnest and fully present. Which you don’t get often at your average reading.

It was nice to hear my friend Annakai read (I hadn’t in a long time) and it was also nice to sit with Midori and Mykel, listening, in such a pretty spot. Birds kept popping out of the surrounding bushes, flying past the readers’ faces, then disappearing again. There were more great things about it, but it would make a very long blog post to talk about them all. Midori said it was the best reading she had ever gone to, and Mykel and I agree, so keep an eye out for more.

The title of the reading was “What a Few People Want to Say to the World.” I wish I could quote the first piece read, which was Sarah’s, but the gist of it seemed to be that self-promotion is only gross when it’s egotistical—when it’s just because you want to tell people about yourself, it’s helpful, and bigger than yourself, and necessary. The readers were all happy to be included in the “few people,” and they were confident that they were talking to a larger audience than just the people in the redwood clearing.

Banned by the Bay

Did you know that there is a Banned Books Week?  It takes place September 30th through October 6th.  The San Francisco Public Library and Banned-by-the-Bay are included in the  local groups who celebrate banned books week.

The most interesting event of the week is the Naked Girls reading:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Naked Girls Reading Banned Books
8:00 pm | Cost: FREE | Stagewerx Theatre

Banned Books Week 2012: Naked Girls Reading | SF

Naked Girls Reading San Francisco is simply a group of women who read literature naked to a doting audience.

On October 2, we will be celebrating our right to read by selecting banned, censored and burned books.

I suppose someone needs to compete with the Naked Guys on Castro.  All they do is sit around, exercising their free speech by simply being naked.  The “Naked Girls” actually celebrate free speech by reading excerpts from banned books.

So jump on the banned-wagon and learn more about banned books (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

 

Michael Chabon

by Colin (’16)

It’s funny how even the most experienced writers are constantly bewildered by their own methods and their own creations. At the Herbst Theater, myself and a few other SOTA students had the wonderful opportunity to hear Michael Chabon speak about his life, his books, and his ability to year after year perform his duties as both a father and as a novelist. It was a very full evening, and many topics were discussed in detail: he recalled with tender feeling the way in which he wrote his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; he talked about the personality and actions of his children (and of his memories of early childhood) that might have bled through into his young characters, giving them a realism that could otherwise not be achieved; and he talked about other writers and their methods in stark contrast with his own. There was nothing he didn’t talk about, and no facet of his literary career was hidden away. And the interviewer, the conversation starter, was none other than Adam Savage, the bearded engineer/artist/theorist/brain/goofball/science-teacher/inventor on Mythbusters!

Our group saw Chabon from afar, our seats elevated above him so that he looked like a dwarf among a forest of redwoods, but it didn’t matter because his words reverberated throughout the theater with intensity and, often, true fascination. In many ways, talking about his writing and his literary idols (Raymond Chandler being one of them) appeared as a liberating event for the renowned author. This could be regarded as a sort of narcissism, but it was really a public reflection on his career and his life, and the crowd loved it. The simple viewing of two men talking inspired sitting ovations and brought upon hearty laughs. When Chabon was asked questions by the audience, he answered them with honesty and elaborate detail, making it equally about the person asking the question and himself. The author, throughout it all, never made a play at being humble, but did truly understand that people were watching him with adoring eyes for a reason, and that he had something legitimate and interesting to say to them. Overall, it was a very pleasant evening. Thank you Ronald Chase and Art & Film.

Dana Gioia Reading

Creative Writers, don’t forget that we’re attending the Dana Gioia reading at Booksmith tomorrow evening, 7:30. This will count as reading credit, so just remember to do your submissions and bring them in for Heather.

PITY THE BEAUTIFUL is Dana Gioia’s first new poetry book in over a decade. Its emotional revelations and careful construction are hard won, inventive, and resilient. These new poems show Gioia’s craftsmanship at its finest, its most mature, as they make music, crack wise, remember the dead, and in a long, central poem even tell ghost stories.

Dana Gioia is the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Now back in Calfornia, he lives in Sonoma Country and currently serves as the Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California.

Gioia has published four full-length collections of poetry, as well as eight chapbooks. His poetry collection, Interrogations at Noon, won the 2002 American Book Award. An influential critic as well, Gioia’s 1991 volume Can Poetry Matter?, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, is credited with helping to revive the role of poetry in American public culture.

Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest now involves nearly half a million high school students across the country in a national poetry recitation contest that awards $50,000 in scholarships.

CW Alum at an Oakland Reading!

Reading alert! The lovely Sayre Quevedo, who graduated from the Creative Writing department last year, is going to be featured at the Bitchez Brew reading series once again. He, along with several other talented writers, will be reading at the Awaken Cafe in Downtown Oakland on May 12th at 7:30 pm. Come and have an utterly “bohemian” time, maybe do some old-fashioned networking, or make some neat friends.

-Reba

african-american authors at the sf main library

from sf gate:

Bay Area Authors Speak Out

Sunday, May 6 2:00pm
at San Francisco Main Library, San Francisco, CA

The World as Seen Through the Eyes of Black Authors – San Francisco Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and the African American Center of the San Francisco Public Library presents lively readings and discussion by three authors: Jacqueline Luckett – Searching for Tina Turner and Passing Love; Beatrice Toney Bailey – Farewell My Friend; Ron Bryan – Maximillion Slaughter. read more

Jane Hirshfield at City Lights!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

Jane Hirshfield is the author of six previous collections of poetry, a now-classic book of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, and three books collecting the work of women poets from the past. Her awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the Academy of American Poets, and the National Endowment for the Arts; three Pushcart Prizes; the California Book Award; The Poetry Center Book Award; and other honors. Her poems appear regularly in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Poetry and have been included in six editions of The Best American Poetry. Her collection Given Sugar, Given Salt was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and After was named a “Best Book of 2006” by The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the United Kingdom’s Financial Times. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Come, Thief is a revelatory, indispensable collection of poems from Jane Hirshfield that centers on beauty, time, and the full embrace of an existence that time cannot help but steal from our arms. Hirshfield is unsurpassed in her ability to sink into a moment’s essence and exchange something of herself with its finite music—and then, in seemingly simple, inevitable words, to deliver that exchange to us in poems that vibrate with form and expression perfectly united. Hirshfield’s poems of discovery, acknowledgment of the difficult, and praise turn always toward deepening comprehension. Here we encounter the stealth of feeling’s arrival (“as some strings, untouched, / sound when a near one is speaking. / So it was when love slipped inside us”), an anatomy of solitude (“wrong solitude vinegars the soul, / right solitude oils it”), a reflection on perishability and the sweetness its acceptance invites into our midst (“How suddenly then / the strange happiness took me, / like a man with strong hands and strong mouth”), and a muscular, unblindfolded awareness of our shared political and planetary fate. To read these startlingly true poems is to find our own feelings eloquently ensnared. Whether delving into intimately familiar moments or bringing forward some experience until now outside words, Hirshfield finds for each face of our lives its metamorphosing portrait, its particular, memorable, singing and singular name.