Professor Bly's Book Named Best of 2018

Congratulations to Mary Bly (pen name Eloisa James), whose novel Too Wilde to Wed has been named one of the ten best books of 2018 by Apple Books.

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From Apple: “In 2018, Apple Books launched as a brand new app, making it effortless for iPhone and iPad users to discover and enjoy books and audiobooks. This year Apple Books celebrates works from a diverse group of authors,” including There There by Tommy Orange and American Marriage by Tayari Jones.

Too Wilde to Wed, a novel Booklist says marries “potent sensuality with a deliciously dry sense of humor,” also debuted at #7 on the New York Times best seller list and was picked as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Month.

Congrats again to Professor Bly on this fabulous accomplishment.

5th Annual Golden Gloves Literary Competition & Fair

On December 7, the annual Golden Gloves Literary Competition and Fair took place at the Lincoln Center campus. Creative writing classes across Fordham presented their work to compete for three prizes: Ram d’Or (Best in Show), Best Experiment, and the Audience Award. This year, the presentations were judged by Gina Apostol, winner of the PEN Open Book Award for her novel Gun Dealer’s Daughter, and recipient of the Philippine National Book Award.

Before the event, attendants enjoyed a pizza dinner and had the opportunity to attend a campus Literary Fair, which featured the publications Bricolage, The Ampersand, The Comma, and MODE Magazine. Staff members in these groups fielded questions from students interested in writing for publication.

The competition itself featured ten different creative writing classes: Performance Criticism, Poetry - What Good is It?, Essay is a Verb, The Stuff of Fiction, Poetry of Witness, The Good Life, First Flint, Writing the World, Writing for Teens in an Adult World, and The Outsiders: Reading and Writing Fiction about Outsiders, Outcasts, Exiles, and Rebels.

Taylor Shaw, FCRH ‘19, appreciated the diversity of voices and topics represented by the classes.

“Everyone brought something different to the table this year, and I really liked that the pieces covered a broad variety of topics,” said Shaw. “From hilarious parodies of guilty pleasure young adult novels to hard-hitting and chilling reflections on the Kavanaugh trial and its surrounding context, the different works kept us engaged and at the edge of our seats for the entire competition.”

Judge, Gina Apostol read a selection from her new novel, Insurrecto. She was followed by Writer in Residence Nyssa Chow, who presented her multimedia story on a hunger striker in Trinidad, as well as scenes from her Still.Life. Exhibition.

As a student in Chow’s Multimedia and Narrative Practice class, Shaw was grateful for the opportunity to hear, see, and be inspired by her professor’s work.

“As her student, it was really gratifying to get to see her brilliant work after such a wonderful semester,” said Shaw. “We had such a great opportunity to see the skills we’d learned in action.”

The Ram d’Or (Best In Show) award was given to Professor Nyssa Chow’s Essay is a Verb class for their poignant commentary on sexual abuse and feminism after the Kavanaugh trial. Best Experiment went to the students of Professor Sarah Gambito’s The Good Life, for their interpretation of a dialogue with the succulent plants they had nurtured over the course of the semester. Finally, Molly Horan’s class, Writing for Teens in an Adult World, took home the Audience Award for its rollicking tribute to the young adult fiction genre.

Though saddened that this would be her last Golden Gloves, senior Evgenia Mantika, FCLC ‘19, expressed her appreciation of how the event brought the creative writing community together.

“Golden Gloves reminds creative writing students of the incredible community they are a part of,” said Mantikas. “It is a chance for us to be inspired by our peers, whether it be by expressing our voices politically or by writing brilliant young adult fiction.”

Professor McEleney Wins MLA Prize

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Congratulations to Professor Corey McEleney, whose book Futile Pleasures: Early Modern Literature and the Limits of Utility received Honorable Mention for the 2018 MLA Prize for a First Book.

The MLA committee’s citation for Professor McEleney’s book reads:

“Futile Pleasures: Early Modern Literature and the Limits of Utility argues that the tensions inherent in Renaissance concepts of poetic value characterize the current crisis in the humanities and, indeed, have also shaped the terms in which that crisis can be addressed. Whereas the queer, the effete, the useless, and the idle have long been associated with pleasure, the robust, the masculine, the useful, and the active have been associated with literary utility and social and political relevance, and Corey McEleney shows that it is to this second side of the equation that defenses of literature invariably tend. Futile Pleasures is a subtle and eloquent investigation into the early modern roots of discussions about the most pressing academic debate of our time—the relevance of literary studies.”

For more about Professor McEleney’s marvelous book, click here: https://www.fordhampress.com/9780823272662/futile-pleasures/

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Join Community: Fordham English

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I can give you only two really good pieces of advice. The first is to never worry about how much pasta you’re eating, especially when in college or Italy. The second is to become a Fordham English major.             

There has never been a moment in my life when I wasn’t an English major. Even before college applications and SAT scores were on my mind, I knew when the time came I would major in English. Writing and reading—the act of imagining, creating, analyzing, and enjoying language—have always been a part of my life; being an English major, a part of my identity.

When I came to college in the fall of 2015, my decision to attend  Fordham was made mainly by the university’s location in New York City, where I always imagined I’d be a writer of something—plays, poems, it didn’t matter what. The plan was the write, that’s as far as I got, and Fordham got me that far.  Otherwise, I knew little about the school (what the heck is a Jesuit? being among my questions). I registered for my core classes, signed up for Urban Plunge, and dove head first into college.

It was not easy.

My first two years, I was hurting. I felt lonely and unhappy. I was struggling with my friendships, classes, mental health, and living in the city. Completing mainly core at the time, the only class I was excelling in was a 17th century poetry class, putting off Philosophical Ethics for another semester to indulge in the 4000 level course. By the middle of sophomore year, I was preparing my transfer applications. I even paid the application fees.

I never quite completed my transfer applications (I never sent off my transcripts). I was interrupted by an email from a professor named Elizabeth Stone, who was offering a two credit course in publishing. Specifically, students would be contributing to the creation and publication of The Comma, Fordham Lincoln Center’s literary magazine. As a writer, I was intrigued. A couple email exchanges later, and I became an official editor and contributor to The Comma.

That next semester, I felt like my life in college really began. I was an active member of an on campus literary publication, and I began really entering my major classes. I applied to, and was accepted into, the Creative Writing program, and attended events sponsored by the English and Creative Writing programs, finding friends within them.

The Fordham English department gave me what I needed: a community.

I have yet to meet a student in the program who isn’t an immediate friend (like Meg Crane, who I sat next to on my first day of Creative Nonfiction Writing by sheer gravitational pull, and have relied on as a supporter, editor, and companion ever since), or a professor who isn’t a willing mentor (like Professor Marwa Helal, who welcomed me to audit her class this semester and enabled me to feel confidence in being a writer again).

The study of English, by its sheer nature, is collaborative. Just like language doesn’t develop in isolation, neither does learning. Each classroom I entered was not a competition field for who could write the best poem or have the most impressive analysis of Othello—it was a space for exploration, where we worked through ideas and art together. In literature classes, I felt comfortable asking questions, being confused, prodding for thoughtful answers I didn’t quite have. In writing classes, I felt safe bringing in an imperfect piece, opening myself up for constructive criticism, being supported by my peers. There was never pressure for any of us to prove ourselves; we were there because we loved language, and we embarked on our linguistic journeys together.

For two years, I regretted moving to New York and coming to Fordham. Now, as I am graduating four years later, my only regret is not embracing this community sooner. I would give anything to have stopped stressing about being the best, or even just good enough, and to have found the affirmation and enjoyment in the Fordham English department those first two years.

Nonetheless, even as I graduate, I know I am not leaving this community. I have made friends and connected with mentors who I know I can rely on for years to come. Thanks to Fordham English, I have the confidence to learn and grow, replacing my once desperation to already know everything and be complete.

I could give you advice about what internships to do, how to stay ahead of your school work, the true meaning of success is a job well done, etc. etc. I could pepper my advice with my accomplishments as evidence, an expansive and specific cover letter. Certainly, there are things I’ve done here that I’m proud of, that look good on paper. But above all, what I’m proudest of, is being a part of something. The things that look good on paper are great, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the things that felt good in my heart were even better.

So, put off a core class or two in your first couple years so you can begin being introduced to this community (I promise, Philosophical Ethics isn’t going anywhere). Submit and join publications that interest you until you find your right fit. Ask someone from your Jane Austen class if they’d like to join you for English Country Dancing. Go to a Poets Out Loud reading. Work through your questions in class with your peers. Invite people you hardly know over to your apartment to eat pizza and talk about writing (yes, I did that!) Enter as acquaintances, leave as friends. Write something, anything, leave it all on the page, and then let your classmates workshop the literary manifestation of your most vulnerable self.

Enter your career as a Fordham English major with an open heart and open mind, and let yourself be filled by all this program has to offer.

Congratulations, you are a Fordham English major, you are a part of something. Welcome, friend.

~ Cat Reynolds, FCLC 2018

The Body Keeps Score: Self Care at Fordham

As writers and thinkers, it is important to take care of our physical and mental health. There is a stereotype of writers and artists living on the edge and some harbor the dangerous belief that these harmful behaviors are what make artists great. Not only is this dangerous thinking, but it also fails to consider that self-neglect is what prevents these artists from producing their best work and being their most creative selves. Prompted by a presentation in Professor Sarah Gambito’s Writer’s Workshop, I expressed gratitude for Dr. van der Kolk’s wonderful book, The Body Keeps the Score, and how it explains chronic stress and trauma’s physical effects on the brain and body. To complement my presentation, I researched accessible resources to assist with mental and physical wellbeing to share with my classmates, while living as students at Fordham in NYC. Not only is stress-management especially helpful during finals’ season, but it is also crucial for fostering creative minds and lives well-lived. Below is a comprehensive list of wonderful works, resources, institutions, and activities that may be useful for maintaining a healthy body and mind during finals and year-round.

~ Anne Marie Ward, FCRH 2019

A Special Guest with a Story to Tell

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Olivia Lucas with Ambassador Joseph

Raymond A. Joseph, the former Haitian Ambassador to the United States recently visited Professor Elizabeth Stone's "New Wave Immigrant Literature" class to tell his own immigrant story as someone condemned to death in absentia by the government of François Duvalier, president of Haiti from 1957-71. 

Joseph, who first came to the United States as a teenager to study theology and to translate the Bible into Creole, has also previously been a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and one of the founders of The Haiti Observateur.  He is shown with class member Olivia Lucas who presented a brief biographical report on Ambassador Joseph to the class.  

NPR Selects Poets Out Loud Prize Winner as a Best Book of 2018

This year’s winner of the Poets Out Loud Prize, Midden, by Julia Bouwsma, has just been named one of the best books of 2018 by NPR.

Midden charts the fragmented stories of the citizens of Malaga Island, whose mixed-race community was destroyed by the state of Maine in 1911. The residents were scattered, many incarcerated in the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded, others dying destitute. Poet Tess Taylor, staff writer for NPR, describes Bouwsma’s achievement:

Shuttling between the early 20th century and the cabin in Maine where Bouwsma now lives and farms, the poems summon and live with their ghosts with enormous, deliberate tenderness. "All winter, I tried to write the island/ to life, labored// these voices, the people torn/ up" she writes, before adding "all winter, the beaver hung in my shed,/ her body frozen and still, / upside down in the dark."

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Midden was selected for the POL Prize by poet Afaa M. Weaver from over 200 manuscripts submitted. The POL Prizes Series, edited by Elisabeth Frost for Fordham Press, publishes two poetry titles annually in an international competition. Excerpts from the winner of the POL Editor’s Prize, Henk Rossouw’s Xamissa, have also been honored: selections have just been published in the anthology Best Experimental Writing 2018 from Wesleyan University Press.