Creative Writing

Fordham Welcomes 2017 Mary Higgins Clark Chair, A.S. King

On October 2nd, the Department of English and the Creative Writing Program celebrated the Mary Higgins Clark Chair in Creative Writing and Fordham LitFest 2017.

Preceding this year’s Mary Higgins Clark chair address by celebrated surrealist YA author A.S. King, English majors, minor, and prospective majors gathered in McNally Amphitheater for LitFest 2017. A celebration of the discipline of literary study and excellence in writing, LitFest gave students the opportunity to learn about the value of the English major from department faculty, enjoy the premiere of the new English department short film Real Talk: Fordham English Alums starring recent English major graduates, and discuss literary and professional interests within specialized caucuses. 

Student gather in the Publishing Caucus to discuss building a portfolio, pitching to editors, and becoming a self-disciplined writer

Student gather in the Publishing Caucus to discuss building a portfolio, pitching to editors, and becoming a self-disciplined writer


At the conclusion of LitFest, King, took to the stage to deliver her address, titled “Writing Novels - Trust the Process, Work Often, Die Happy.” King’s address focused on her spontaneous writing process known as pantsing.

Pantsing, explained King, is the process of writing without an outline—diving right into a story without knowing where it will lead. For King, this writing begins with a character: “My characters tell me things, and I listen.”

This method seems like a crazy approach to writing a novel, and it is, King promised. She admitted her dive-right-in process requires trust in a way plotted writing does not. "I trust in a very untrustworthy world,” she explained. “I always have, and I always will. That's why I write the way I do.”

“You write the best book you possibly can, and then you write another one. And then you write another one. Repeat.”

“You write the best book you possibly can, and then you write another one. And then you write another one. Repeat.”


The author also discussed her challenges as a woman writing in a predominantly male genre. “As a surrealist writer, being female isn’t always a picnic,” confessed King. She reflected on years of being mislabeled by publishers, undervalued, and rejected for being too strange or not romantic enough for a female writer: “Apparently my work wouldn’t be as hard to shelve if I thought like women are supposed to think, as if the marriage of my brain and my hands is somehow rerouted through my glands.”

After fifteen years of rejection, King was finally published. Though praise has followed, King insists financial success and glory have never been her motivators. “This is a hard business, but the goal is ultimately to write more books, to make more art, to stay focused on what’s important, to continue to meet my own goals, to reach out," she explained. "And encourage people to share their stories too—that’s a big one.”

King's advice to young writers in the audience was simple: make writing a priority. "I am always writing," said King. "Writing makes me happy," she explained. "I’m a better mother, a better friend, a better writer, and a better person when I’m happy."

Write often, encouraged the celebrated author. Pantsing is one way to do it, said King, but it doesn't work for everyone. "No one writes a book the same way as anybody else," she maintained. "Find what works for you, and write."

King closed her address by revealing what inspires her: “I want to give people a part of myself. I want to write books that come to me. I want to help other people." She put it simply: "That’s what makes me happy.”

FCLC '19 Cat Reynolds presents FCLC '79 Mary Higgins Clark with a gift from Fordham University.

FCLC '19 Cat Reynolds presents FCLC '79 Mary Higgins Clark with a gift from Fordham University.

“Queen of Suspense” and graduate of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, Class of 1979, Mary Higgins Clark took to the stage after King, and praised King for her inspiring and entertaining address. The bestselling author especially identified with the joy King found in proving her critics wrong. She reflected on a particularly harsh rejection slip: “It read, ‘Mrs. Clark, your stories are light, slight, and trite,’ and I thought, ‘I’ll show you,’ and I did.” 

“You’ve proved them right fifty-seven times now, correct?” asked Fordham’s president Father McShane upon the event’s closing. “That’s how many novels you’ve written?” Clark nodded. McShane ended the evening with expressing his gratitude for Mary Higgins Clark and her generosity towards Fordham University, as well as his gratitude for King: “You have liberated some minds in here tonight with your words, and for that we are grateful.”

[To see the Fordham News story on this event, click here. Their story includes even more fun photos!]

Audience members have their books signed by A.S. King and Mary Higgins Clark following the address. 

Audience members have their books signed by A.S. King and Mary Higgins Clark following the address. 



Kundiman Signs 3 year Partnership with Fordham

Each summer, after the dust settles from graduations and reunions, Fordham’s Rose Hill campus welcomes the Kundiman Retreat, contemplative programming that brings established Asian-American poets and writers together with students for master classes.

Now Kundiman, a nonprofit dedicated to the development of Asian-American literature, has signed a three-year agreement with Fordham College at Rose Hill that will bring internships, a course on The Writer’s Life, and more student-centered programming to campus.

Join the Blackboard Book Group on A.S. King's *Ask the Passengers*


Looking for some good reading to share and talk about with others? Read Ask the Passengers, a work of Young Adult fiction by acclaimed writer A..S. King. She'll be visiting Fordham the week of October 2, 2017 as the Mary Higgins Clark Chair to give a reading and lead workshops. Professors Stacey D'Erasmo and Glenn Hendler are leading a loose, open, summer-long book group with this book on Blackboard, and we'd love for you to join in. 

  • First: buy the book and start reading it
    • Then: log into Blackboard.
    • If you're an English major, you're already enrolled in the "Ask the Passengers Book Group." Just log in to Blackboard, click on "Organizations," and you'll see the name of the group. 

There are at least three ways to participate:

  1. Talk. Go to the discussion board and you can either respond to one of the questions there or start a discussion thread of your own.
  2. Write. Go to "Letters to Passengers" and you can join the novel's main character, Astrid Jones, by writing something to anonymous passengers in airplanes (or the subway or bus or in cars on the won't make sense until you've started reading the book, but then you'll see what we mean).
  3. Read. Click on "interesting stuff" and read some of the web links and documents posted there. We'll keep adding more over the course of the summer. And you can suggest items to be added, too!

Also: invite your friends to join the group (even if they're not English majors)! Anyone with a e-mail address can join the discussion by going to You can also go in to Blackboard to adjust your notifications so that you get e-mails whenever others post...or so you don't. 

The Backstory

Celebrated author Mary Higgins Clark, a Fordham alum, recently endowed a visiting professorship in creative writing, the Mary Higgins Clark Chair, which will bring to campus a distinguished writer who will do a public reading as well as lead workshops, seminars, and master classes. To honor Mary Higgins Clark's storied career as a writer of genre fiction, the English department is inviting writers who work in popular genres as our first Clark chairs. 

So, A.S. King will be visiting Fordham the week of October 2, 2017, as this year's Mary Higgins Clark Chair. A.S. King has been called “One of the best Y.A. writers working today” by the New York Times Book Review. King is the author of highly-acclaimed novels including her 2016 release Still Life with Tornado, 2015’s surrealist I Crawl Through It, Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, Reality Boy, the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants, 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz among others. She is a faculty member of the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and spends many months of the year traveling the country speaking to high school students. After fifteen years living self-sufficiently and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives in Pennsylvania.

2017 Mary Higgins Clark Chair: Young Adult Novelist, A.S. King

 Our 2017 Mary Higgins Clark Chair will be the wonderful young adult novelist A.S. King, who has been called “one of the best Y.A. writers working today” by The New York Times Book Review. But we know that some of you knew that already, as fans of her novels Still Life with Tornado, I Crawl Through It, Reality Boy, and others. 

Faculty members Glenn Hendler and Stacey D’Erasmo have set up an online book club space on Blackboard, where students and faculty can discuss their reactions to A.S. King's 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner, Ask the Passengers. In Ask the Passengers, high school senior Astrid Jones finds that strangers might be the best people to confide in, especially when you find yourself with so many secrets to keep. As it turns out, some of those strangers have secrets of their own to share.the book—thoughts, ideas, feelings, and questions all welcome. To join the discussion, go to You'll need to log in to your Fordham Blackboard account. 

King will begin her visit with a talk titled "Writing Novels - Trust the Process, Work Often, Die Happy." It will take place at 6pm on Monday, October 2, in the McNally Amphitheatre on the Lincoln Center campus. For more information, and to RSVP (please do!) go to: 

2017 - 2018 Reid Writer: Rigoberto González

We are thrilled to announce that Rigoberto González has been selected as next year's Reid writer. We have also chosen his memoir Autobiography of My Hungers as the Reid book. Rigoberto will be joining us at this Fall's Mullarkey Forum and will give a reading and craft class this Spring. More on the Reid events can be found here.

Rigoberto González is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Unpeopled Eden, which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. His ten books of prose include two bilingual children's books, the three young adult novels in the Mariposa Club series, the novel Crossing Vines, the story collection Men Without Bliss, and three books of nonfiction, including Autobiography of My Hungers and Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, which received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He also edited Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing and Alurista's new and selected volume Xicano Duende: A Select Anthology. The recipient of Guggenheim, NEA and USA Rolón fellowships, a NYFA grant in poetry, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, The Poetry Center Book Award, and the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award, he is contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine and writes a monthly column for NBC-Latino online. Currently, he is professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey, and the inaugural Stan Rubin Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the Rainier Writing Workshop. In 2015, he received The Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Publishing Triangle. As of 2016, he serves as critic-at-large with the L.A. Times and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

Reid Book: Autobiography of My Hungers

Rigoberto González, author of the critically acclaimed memoir Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, takes a second piercing look at his past through a startling new lens: hunger.

The need for sustenance originating in childhood poverty, the adolescent emotional need for solace and comfort, the adult desire for a larger world, another lover, a different body—all are explored by González in a series of heartbreaking and poetic vignettes.

Each vignette is a defining moment of self-awareness, every moment an important step in a lifelong journey toward clarity, knowledge, and the nourishment that comes in various forms—even “the smallest biggest joys” help piece together a complex portrait of a gay man of color who at last defines himself by what he learns, not by what he yearns for.

Boss Level Challenge: Monument

In 2013, the artist Thomas Hirschhorn constructed a monument dedicated to the philosopher Antonio Gramsci in the South Bronx. Unlike most monuments which are made of inert stone or metal and meant to endure, Hirschhorn’s monument was designed to be temporary, to be taken down and to interact strongly with community. Inspired by this work, students in Sarah Gambito's Writer in New York creative writing workshop designed monument projects that articulated the values/people/events that they deemed most important. Here are two representative projects.


Dylan Hollingsworth: Nude Lipz

To me, black voices are music.
I need those voices. In all their variations.
It's that impenetrable street banter you hear when you walk pass the dope boys
It's that loving firmness you hear after you see a mother pop her little one in public
It's the crunchy melody that plays when the middle schoolers eat their flaming hots
with cheese and ground beef
It's the hissing and sucking of teeth you hear when a tender headed little girl is
conquered by a heavy handed hair braider
It's the pure agony that you hear in a grandmother's cry for God to bring her baby
Another taken by the police
Either systemically or permanently
Gone too soon
It's that inimitable soul you hear in the voice of a black woman singing her truth
And she will not be silenced

Inspiration Playlist
Strange Fruit - Billy Holiday
The Corner - Common
Children's Story - Slick Rick
Seigfried - Frank Ocean
All I Got - Amel Larrieux
Neighbors - J. Cole
DNA - Kendrick Lamar
Terrorist Threats
Mad - Solange
Never Let Me Down - Kanye West ft. Jay Z & J Ivy
We Don't Care - Kanye West
Casket Pretty - Noname
Aquemini - Outkast
REVOFEV - Kid Cudi

Thus this monument honors the blossoming of black voices
Just as flowers bloom in spring.
Black lips
Big and small
Supple and wrinkled
"Masculine" and "feminine"
Loud and reserved.
To force Black visibility onto White campuses
And to remind
Black students, faculty, and staff
Who, too often, are misunderstood, misrepresented
And made to bear a heavy burden
That they belong there.

Jessica Mannino: The Curve

“The Curve” is an art installation in Central Park that aims to reinvigorate a deep, insatiable love for New York City through mediums of poetry, prose, and photography. The installation will deeply draw upon art as a catalyst for creative thought beyond the bounds of the exhibition. It will stand for a brief period of time to marry arbitrary works of poets and photographers from various time periods, contexts, neighborhoods, boroughs, and socioeconomic standings to show how the fluidity and timelessness of art can make the experience of the city relevant and accessible to anyone, at any time. Its brief presence in New York will be symbolic of just how rare and beautiful the city is to grasp. Defying time and place liberates the art to exist within several contexts at once, perhaps speaking to many at a time. The transient nature will impart a sense of urgency within the community and naturally warrant attention. The main focus of the art across all mediums is the experiences of a NY native. The location, Central park, is critical, in that in it’s open, malleable surface area provides the perfect platform. While NYC is traditionally comprised of the squares, the circles, (Herald Square, Times Square, Washington Square, Columbus Circle), the park’s refreshing “nature,” so to speak, will engage this symbolic installation in a way that no other landmark could. The images on the curve, as well as the texts, will be transposable and alter daily, a symbolic nod to the malleable, fluid, and interchangeable potential of the interaction between art and city. These changes will also instill a sense of urgency, as no experience will be the same, but each will be unique and important in it’s own way - much the same in the way we all experience the city daily. The curve, or “infinity sign,” rich with symbolism, relevance, and just the right dose of cliché, will be the perfect emblem to represent how the city is forever in motion. This monument will offer a new spectrum of meaning to those visiting NYC for the first time, or even simply seeking art in their daily, hectic city lives. While the works showcased will predominately be art of professionals, there will be an opportunity for prospective artist contributions. Providing an outlet for incentivized participation will be a great way to engage the community in a fashion that particularly resonates with our generation. While the physical monument will come to an end, it is my hope that the impact will transcend the contained exhibition and manifest in different artistic renderings throughout the city – perhaps subway art, an online page, sharable stickers, etc. All in all, it is my hope that “The Curve” will be an exhibit that gets people excited to be a New Yorker, a subliminal lesson in history and art that sparks a dialogue between the most renowned works of city life. It will be an amazing opportunity to defy context, experience culture, and experiment with art in a unique, accessible manner.