On Saturday, October 28th, Fordham’s Creative Writing concentrators gathered in Dealy Hall for a daylong retreat led by Professor and Creative Writing Director Sarah Gambito, Professor Stacey D’Erasmo, and Professor Elizabeth Stone.
After breakfast, students opened their day with a salon. From bits of creative nonfiction, to excerpts from personal essays, to short poems, to rhythmic rap, each concentrator shared their voice and made themselves vulnerable to their fellow concentrators—the perfect preface to a day of creative camaraderie and expression.
Before breaking for lunch and breakout sessions, the concentrators ventured across the street to the New York Botanical Garden for a creative writing scavenger hunt. Students were given spots in the garden to locate, and then instructed to relocate a poignant memory to their assigned garden locale. Students wrote sat upon hill tops, tucked away in the herb garden, and perched in the rock garden for just over an hour before returning to Dealy for the afternoon’s “Emerging Writer Spotlight” speaker, poet and drag performer Wo Chan.
Wo Chan, who holds honors from Kundiman, the Asian American Writers Workshop, Lambda Literary, and Millay Colony of the Arts, is both the author of the chaplet ORDER THE WORLD, MOM and a standing member of the Brooklyn-based drag and burlesque alliance Switch n’ Play. Currently a 2017 NYFA Fellow in Poetry and an MFA candidate in Poetry at NYU, Chan was able to share incredible insight with the concentrators.
Chan shared their poetry, explored their personal relationship with poetry and drag performance in collaboration with one another, and spoke on the importance of building a community. “Surround yourself with people who will build you up,” Chan advised. Most importantly, however, Chan expressed the importance of supporting other creators. “Just show up. Show up and be there for people, and they will show up for you.” In a room of students with similar creative passions, Chan’s advice felt extremely relevant. Chan concluded their address by answering questions from the students, covering everything from how to sustain a emotionally and financially fulfilling artistic life and how to know when to pursue an MFA.
The retreat concluded with “Real Talk: Professional Toolbox,” an address from Creative Writing Director Sarah Gambito, Professor Stacey D’Erasmo, and Professor Elizabeth Stone on living and writing in the professional world. Students and professors discussed the ins and outs of publishing and the post-grad life of the Fordham Creative Writing Concentrator. With dinner and a second salon, the 2017 Creative Writing Concentration Retreat ended with an experience of creative intimacy similar to with which it began—with students gathered round a meal sharing stories and listening to one another’s stories.