Creative Writing

Stay Woke: Write Yourself In

On Friday, November 14, Fordham students, faculty and members of the public gathered together at both Rose Hill and Lincoln Center for Stay Woke: Write Yourself In

At Rose Hill, the Fordham b-Sides began the event on Eddie's, right outside of Dealy Hall with a rendition of The Beatles' "Let it Be" as well as the civil-rights song "We Shall Overcome." 

Attendees then moved to the McGinley Music room, where they held an engaged discussion on their personal experiences with race, their thoughts on events in Ferguson, and their feelings about identity, followed by a creative writing exercise.

Several hours later, at Lincoln Center, students, faculty, and community members met to hold a remembrance for Michael Brown and other victims of racialized violence in the United States. The group sang "This Little Light of Mine," processing from within Lowenstein, down 9th Avenue, and stopping at the famed Lincoln Center fountain. There, the group recited some of the names of the fallen, including Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, and Kandy Hall, among others.

The group then silently returned down 9th Avenue back to Fordham University, where they sat down with other students, faculty, artists, and community members to talk about their experiences of race in the United States.  Following this the group took part in free-writing sessions and then shared their poetry and prose with the room. 

Artists from around the country joined the Lincoln Center group by writing in real-time on a Google Doc which was projected onto the front of the room.

The Fordham Creative Writing Program has documented this event through photos, video, and hand-written materials. To view this powerful archive, click here.

Fall 2014 Prose Reading

On November 5th, the Creative Writing Program's Prose Reading featured Fordham alumni  Chris Campanioni and Melissa Castillo-Garsow and Fordham Writer in Residence Amy Benson.

The three writers also spoke with students about the creative writing process.

"My stuff is self-reflexive and self-reflective," Campanioni said. He finds his inspiration in his surroundings, including his commute to the College of Staten Island. The Staten Island ferry, he said, is a source of inspiration as well as a way to and from work. Campanioni read from his new book, Going Down, which he called an exploration of the news industry and the fashion world. A former journalist and model, Campanioni explained that he feels all writing is, in essence, memoir.

Melissa Castillo-Garsow credits Fordham with a great deal of her life as a writer.

"I always tell people Fordham is my favorite school--and the other two are NYU and Yale, so that's some stiff competition," she said.

Castillo-Garsow's  connection to Fordham did not end when she began taking classes at other universities. Her new book, Pure Bronx, takes place in Fordham's own backyard, and was co-written with Fordham professor Mark Naison.

Amy Benson echoed Campanioni's sentiments about all writing having at least tinges of memoir within it. She hesitated to label her work as "fiction" or "nonfiction."

"I'll let you decide if it's fiction or nonfiction," she said.

Benson noted that much of her inspiration currently comes from themes of environmental distress as well as from artists, noting Phoebe Washburn in particular.

"We have caused disasters that only we can fix," Benson read.

After filling the room with prose, the three authors took questions from students.

Several students had questions about how the authors find inspiration.

"I find myself drawn to artists with an ecological bend," Benson said. When a student asked Benson how she avoided becoming overwhelmed by the plethora of potential environmental issues to writer about Benson chuckled. "Oh, it's overwhelming," Benson said.

When the authors were asked how they found their voice, all three had words of advice.

"I listen to a lot of music when I write," Campanioni said. "So those lyrics sometimes bleed into the writing."

Campanioni noted that he even acknowledges the bands that inspired him--including Joy Division, Talking Heads, and Nine Inch Nails--in the back of his books.

Castillo-Garsow credited her experience as a journalist as helping her to find her voice.

"I worked as a journalist," she said. "So I was drawn to two things: 1) dialogue and 2) place and setting. So I wander around where I think my characters are from and just listen."

Benson advised students to look within to find their own voice.

"Find the things in you that no one else has," she said.

Castillo-Garsow echoed this sentiment.

"Listen to the craziness in your head. It may not work [at first], but then it will."

Advice to Emerging Writers

New Media Colloquium: The Future of Publishing

Éclairs, Kindles, Twitter-bots, and the Gutenberg printing press all came our way during the Creative Writing Program's New Media Colloquium.  

Allison Parrish and Benjamin Samuel duke it out over the role technology will play in the future of publishing.

Allison Parrish and Benjamin Samuel duke it out over the role technology will play in the future of publishing.

On October 8th,  Fordham Writer in Residence, Allison Parrish and Benjamin Samuel, editor at large at  Electric Literature spoke on an array of ways that the publishing and writing worlds are continuing to change and evolve. 

“People don’t really understand technologies before they dismiss them,” said Samuel.  "Some critics thought that Gutenberg’s printing press would destroy culture. Critiques of Kindles and iPhones may seem equally outdated in the future."

Still, Samuel cautions that no one can truly know the future of publishing.

“I don’t know what the future of publishing is,” he said, “and anyone who tells you they do is trying to sell you something. Our collective decisions right now as creators and consumers will determine the future. We just need to let people read what they want to how they want to,” he said. “The future of publishing isn’t a computer. It’s us.”

Parrish, however, struck a different tone. Parrish creates experimental art through computer programming and she said she found the interaction of computers and readers “beautiful.”

Among Parrish’s creations include a video game that she describes as “Boggle and Super Mario at the same time” among other quirky and inventive projects. Perhaps her most notable endeavor, however, is the popular Twitter account @everyword, which  tweets every word of the English language alphabetically. Because of a programming fluke, @everyword tweeted the word “éclair" after the last word beginning with "z," infuriating many Twitter followers.

Aside from the laughter Parrish’s story elicited, Parrish felt there was an important lesson within @everyword.  “Words aren’t empty vessels. @everyword brings that to the surface.”

When Samuel stated that he felt computer generated writing could never replace writing written by people, Parrish playfully retorted “I disagree. Wherever there’s a program that makes text, there’s a someone who programmed it.”

This event was co-sponsored by New Media and Digital Design.

Creative differences resolved... for now.

Creative differences resolved... for now.

CURA Magazine Accepting Submissions

CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art and Action is now accepting submissions for 2014-2015.  CURA contributors have won Rockefeller, Guggenheim, American Book, and National Endowment for the Arts awards.  Past issues have featured work by:  Brenda Hillman, Robert Bly, Evie Shockley, Patricia Smith and Idra Novey.

In keeping with our partnership with The Doe Fund, magazine submissions should be based in some way on the theme of "Borderlands." Through its pioneering program, Ready, Willing and Able, The Doe Fund combines paid transitional work and a holistic, individualized service package to catapult individuals into the workforce and out of cycles of homelessness, crime, and addiction. All magazine publication proceeds directly benefit The Doe Fund.   

Submissions are accepted from October until March.

2014 Creative Writing Prize Winners

On April 14, the 2014 Creative Writing Prize Winners read from their winning submissions. Prizes were awarded for the best fiction, non-fiction, and poetry created within our own Fordham Writing Community.

The prizes, with the respective winners and pieces are as follows:

ULLY HIRSCH / ROBERT F. NETTLETON POETRY PRIZES
Judge: Millicent A.A. Graham
Wallis Monday, Mindlessness (five poems)
Trisha Tobias, "Unsaid/Six Words/Sometimes"
Runner-up: Karen Loder, “Sakura, Cosmos: Poetry”


ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS
Judge: Millicent A. A. Graham
Shea Boresi, Endangered Poems
Raven Diltz, Seconds from Supernova (five poems)
Runner-up: Marie LaVina, Four Poems

MARGARET LAMB WRITING TO THE RIGHT-HAND MARGIN (NONFICTION)
Judge: R. V. Hansmann
Emily Doscher, “The Chapel”
Rachel Prensner, “I’m Sorry I Wrote about the Bunker”
Runner-up- Chrissy Pusz, “You”


MARGARET LAMB WRITING TO THE RIGHT-HAND MARGIN (FICTION)
Judge: Amina Gautier
Melisa Annis, "Ablution"
Ryan Lawless, "The Ugly One"


BERNICE KILDUFF WHITE & JOHN J. WHITE CREATIVE WRITING PRIZE (FICTION)
Judge: Fordham Panel
Xavier Griffiths, “Periplaneta Japonica”

THE REID FAMILY PRIZE
Judge: Sarah Gambito
Shea Boresi, Blue Poems