by Justus Honda (’15)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

rumbling bustle in a café at 7 o’clock in the evening,
cardboard cups and porcelain mugs click and tap on marble
tables, drawling voices reverberate off dimly lit walls.
silent people filter through.
someone walks in with music under their hat and
oceansound in their pocket. everyone, it seems, has simple
unapparent secrets. out of sight a slightly damp coatpocket
carries a tiny conch, tarnishcolored with the cacophony of
the sea in its spiral inside.
watches tick voices mingle automobiles buzz and groan
newspapers and magazines rattle cellphones whine and in
the everpresent din in the pocket of an unnamed passerby is
a tarnishcolored conch, intricate mazework innards infused
with oceansound, projecting the memory of the turbulent
people breathe and cough. the espresso machine sighs.
coffee is acidic and bitter going down but is never
regretted. far off a wave crashes but no one hears.

Letting Go

by Maya Litauer (’15)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

My writing practice is never what I want it to be. I constantly feel as though I could be doing more writing, more journaling, more editing, spending more time on my practice. I feel guilty all the time for not being my most-perfect self, for not putting in the time and the effort to improve. Because that’s what writing practice is, really – improving. Even ten minutes a day of free writing would help; I don’t have to write novels or complete poems. But for some reason, it doesn’t happen. I don’t improve as much as I hope to, I write less (and less profoundly) than I think I should, I make edits so small they can hardly be seen. I feel guilty for not sticking to my own standards even though I know I have the power to change.

But perhaps the problem is not in my inability to change, but the fact that if I am constantly striving for some enlightened practice, I can never fully practice my practice. In other words, I can only improve if I am present in my writing, and I cannot be present in my writing if I’m grading it on a scale of how much better it is than a day or two or a month before. Perhaps I need to let go in order to let my writing practice flourish, so it an be its fullest self and I can fully devote myself to it.

But then, maybe I’m not devoted enough to try to overcome these obstacles because I don’t know how there can be payoff for something undesired. It isn’t like I want to become a professional writer, or get published, or even earn a degree in creative writing, so is it even worth it to improve? I know that sounds lazy, and maybe it is. Maybe one of my obstacles is that I make excuses to let myself off the hook. The hook is feeling like I’m too self absorbed to be honest about anything in my writing other than my petty angst. The hook is feeling like I’m not worthy of improvement because I think of myself too much to be selfless but I don’t really care because I’m so busy worrying that I’m not experiencing life fully, and then that sounds selfish and unworthy. What I mean is that I question whether writing about my teenage problems constitutes as writing, and whether that kind of writing counts as improvement, and whether I even deserve to improve if that’s all I write about.

But maybe I over-think things (this is not a maybe, I know I do). It all comes back to letting go, letting the writing take me where it will, without judgement and without control. Self-censorship is the worst kind of censorship, but it’s also the hardest to get rid of. Maybe this will help: take a deep breath before writing, imagine my fears and expectations melting away, and put pen to paper in the most honest form of expression.

This Isn’t A Dog And Pony Show!

by Mykel (’14)

There’s a feeling I like to call “end of the year nihilism,” and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. For someone as lazy and evasive as yours truly, heaps of final projects and tests often result in what the experts like to call a “fuck-it-all coma.”

I’m trying to avoid that scary place in my brain this year. And you know what’s really helping out with that right now? Our awesome artist in residence, Sarah Fontaine.

Oh yes, this is one of those posts.

Her combination of flexibility and structure, experimentation and “engagement with discipline” reminds me how meaningful school can be. I am personally having a great time with the genre-bending texts she has us reading, but our unit gives me more than texts to think about. It reminds me what a huge privilege it is to spend all my days learning. In other words, even if some of my experience with school is annoying and uncomfortable, it’s still not “a dog and pony show.” (Sarah Fontaine’s words.) It still has things to offer me.

Just because Creative Writing is in the middle of a really cool unit doesn’t mean that school is fun all of a sudden. But doing things like listening to an entire album without distractions, holding silent conversations, and reading confusing literature make me more willing to sit through things that may be boring or uncomfortable. And more than that, the kinds of homework we are being assigned remind me to be more open to what my “boring” experiences have to offer me.

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