Tag Archives: poetry

A Flash Non-Fiction about Creative Writing

Creative Writing major Cecelia Westbrook describes how she found the right form.

When I declared my Creative Writing major in the fall of 2014, I considered myself a poet and nothing but a poet.

As an incoming freshman, I didn’t have much experience under my pencil. I had taken one creative writing class in high school, and enjoyed the poetry section the most. I even went out of my way to write extra poems, which made my final project grade 115/100.

Cecelia at the  launch party for Tributaries, containing her first publication, the essay “All Babies are Ugly, Except for Me (Just Ask My Uncle).” Top, Cecelia and friends with poet Kaveh Akbar.

If that is what it takes to be considered a “poet,” then I, in fact, was a poet.

Here at BSU, my English 285 class, which is the introductory creative writing course, spent a few weeks on each genre. This was my first exposure to creative non-fiction, which, it seemed to me, was basically taking experiences from your own life and writing them down for other people to read (possibly.) I didn’t know what to do with it. I don’t remember much about what I wrote for this specific course, but I do remember thinking, Can I go back to writing angsty poetry now please?

Then I took a fiction class. Yikes. I had never even considered writing a story, but here I was in this class. When I was assigned the longer piece of the semester, I found myself writing non-fiction, and then changing the details, such as names, places, and ages. When it was workshopped, I was surprised by the positive comments people made on my “fiction.” Well, maybe I should try non-fiction again.

So I did. I took a creative non-fiction class, and fell in love immediately. I finally felt like I had a way to write about emotions and experiences from the past, and still be able to reflect on them in the present. I could capture the rawness that came with life, while being able to section, braid, and form my stories. I could be as lyrical or as dry as I wanted. I could be sarcastic, humorous, serious, or melancholy; I could make my story whatever I wanted to make it. After all, I was writing about my life.

I was taking a poetry class in the same semester as the creative non-fiction class. I could see my separate writing styles for the separate genres begin to blend together. My poetry became more personal in some cases, and my non-fiction was starting to experiment with more distant points of view, like an outsider looking in. As I was realizing this shift in my writing, I also began thinking, I really wish there was a genre that combines poetry and non-fiction.

And then I took my special topics class, and the theme of the course was lyric prose (cue the angels singing). I loved writing poetry and I loved writing non-fiction, but my heart was not ready for the impact and empowerment I felt from lyric prose writing. Where have you been all my life? The lyric prose genre is like the free verse of prose. The author of lyric prose has complete agency over every aspect of the piece. There is no formula, unlike a genre such as fantasy or dystopia-based realities. It was love at first workshop.  For one assignment in this class, I chose a broad topic, “divide,” and wrote unrelated paragraphs, sentences, fragments and words about that topic, and pieced it all together. I wrote about division as a mathematical process, the Ed Sheeran album Divide, and the division between people in my life.

For a different assignment, I used a more poetic format for a more sensitive topic. The assignment was to write from a perspective completely different from our own, so I chose to write from the perspective of an abusive ex-lover. I left words on their own lines, I had a “chorus” stanza that I repeated throughout for emphasis and rhythm, and I played around with italics, bolding, and spacing of words and letters. One of the last pieces I wrote in this class was later edited and accepted for publication. To me, writing lyric prose felt comfortably challenging; the possibilities in this genre are endless, the boundaries entirely of the writer’s making.

As I reflect back on my nearly eight semesters here, I can see my growth not only as a creative writer, but also as a person. Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone led to me understanding myself more deeply. Am I still a poet? Or am I a creative non-fiction writer? Who even told me I only had to be one type of writer anyway? Now, I consider myself a writer. And that’s it. I may know my strengths, my weaknesses, and my preferred genres, but I am still learning and growing every day.

Kaveh Akbar shares songs of recovery and rediscovery

Akbar speaks to students during book-signing after his reading. Photo by Prof. Mark Neely.

One of the most celebrated young poets on the scene visited Ball State this week. Kaveh Akbar, a professor at Purdue University and author of the poetry collection Calling A Wolf A Wolf, read from his book and from some new work before a large, rapt crowd in a tightly-packed AJ 175 on Tuesday, April 10.

In Calling a Wolf a Wolf, published by Alice James Books in 2017, Akbar explores himself, inside and outside, the mind, and ideas of religion, recovery, and rediscovery. Akbar is open about this collection being a recovery narrative, and the poems invite readers to experience the recovery with him.

On his visit, in addition to reading from the book and from new work in progress (including a poem written Tuesday morning!), Akbar shared personal stories and lingered for more than an hour talking with students and signing books. The line for autographs and hugs stretched outside the lecture hall.

Akbar’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Times, The Nation, Tin House, Best American Poetry 2018, The New Republic, The Guardian, Ploughshares, Georgia Review, PBS NewsHour, Harvard Review, American Poetry Review, Narrative, The Poetry Review, AGNI, New England Review, A Public Space, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry International, Best New Poets 2016, Boston Review, and elsewhere. Akbar founded and edits Divedapper, a home for interviews with the most vital voices in contemporary poetry.

 

Immersive Opportunities: Gain Hands-On Experience!

Are you wondering how you can get more involved in the department? Do you want to spice up your class schedule next year? Consider one of our many immersive learning classes! Immersive learning courses provide students with hands-on, real-world experience in their field of interest.

Previous courses have included Storytelling and Social Justice, where students published a book of true stories from community members to make poverty in Delaware County more visible, and Creative Writing in the Community, where students taught writing techniques to young writers in Muncie and published a collaborative anthology.

Fall 2018 English Immersive Learning Courses:

ENG 400: Book Arts Collaborative

This community letterpress and book bindery is located in the MadJax Building in downtown Muncie. Students learn to set type and hand-bind books, and each has the opportunity to become a student manager, where they’ll learn the ins and outs of business through collaboration with community partners. To learn more, contact Prof. Rai Peterson at rai@bsu.edu.

ENG 299X: Jacket Copy Creative

Students staff this in-house marketing agency for the English Department. They manage the department’s social media accounts, blog, and annual newsletter. Students learn storytelling strategies through practices in public relations, graphic design, editing, content marketing, and more. To learn more, contact Prof. Cathy Day at cday@bsu.edu.

ENG 489: The Broken Plate

In this class, students learn firsthand the editing and publishing world, as they produce this nationally distributed literary magazine. Students field submissions in poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting, art, and photography, and the journal is released at the annual In Print Festival of First Books. To learn more, contact Prof. Silas Hansen at schansen@bsu.edu.

ENG 400: Digital Literature Review

Students read deeply in literature, theory, and criticism on a vital topic, then produce a volume of this scholarly journal on that topic. Next year’s topic is Brave New Worlds: Utopias and Dystopias in Literature and Film. To learn more, contact Prof. Vanessa Rapatz at vlrapatz@bsu.edu.

ENG 299X: Rethinking Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Students will focus on rethinking characters in children’s and young adult literature to help shift the stigma associated with being disabled. The course culminates in the production of a comprehensive magazine/website containing resources on literature featuring disabled characters and fiction and non-fiction pieces co-created by students at BSU and the Burris Laboratory School. To learn more, contact Prof. Lyn Jones at ljones2@bsu.edu.

 

In Print Author: Carolina Ebeid

Next week, the Ball State creative writing program will host its annual In Print Festival of First Books, a two-day event featuring a reading and panel discussion by writers who have just published their first books, as well as an editor from a small press or literary journal.

In anticipation of this event, we have prepared a series of blog posts highlighting each of the writers whose work will be presented at the festival. Today’s writer: poet Carolina Ebeid.

Carolina’s Official Bio:

Carolina Ebeid is the author of You Ask Me to Talk About the Interior (Noemi Press, 2016). She is a student in the PhD program in creative writing at the University of Denver, and holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. She has won fellowships and prizes from CantoMundo, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, the Stadler Center for Poetry, and the NEA. Her work appears widely in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, and more recent work appears in PEN America, Bennington Review, and jubilat.

Interviews

Poems

Many of her other poems can be found linked on her website

 Event Details:

Carolina will be joined at the 2018 In Print Festival of First Books by fiction writer Nick White, creative nonfiction writer Jan Shoemaker, and editor Kristen Elias Rowley.

  • Wednesday, 03/28: In Print Reading, 8-10 PM in the Student Center Ballroom
  • Thursday, 03/29: In Print Panel Discussion, 8-10 PM in the Student Center Ballroom
    Carolina Ebeid will also be visiting Professor Mark Neely’s ENG 408 class:
  • Thursday, 03/29, 12:30-1:45 in Robert Bell, Room 361

All In Print events are free and open to the public. Contact Prof. Neely at maneely@bsu.edu if you want to sit in on his class.

Levi Todd Reacts to the Get Loud Poetry Slam

#bsuenglish student and Reacting Out Loud found Levi Todd shares his impression of the Get Loud Poetry Slam, sponsored by the Marilyn K. Cory Speaker Series, that occurred on October 16th at Two Cats Cafe.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a junior English Studies major at Ball State. I enjoy rock climbing, biking, and am waiting for the day I can adopt a pug named Gus.

What is your connection to Reacting Out Loud?

I am the Founder and Executive Director of ROL. Reacting Out Loud is an independent organization devoted to uplifting poetry and affirming community in Muncie, Indiana. We intentionally deliver our programming to Muncie as a whole and are not campus-affiliated, though we did do a one-time collaboration with #bsuenglish at this last event. We firmly believe that poetry is the most accessible form of self-expression that people have, and that it has the potential to build powerful connections within communities.

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Want to make the most of National Poetry Month 2015? Here's how!

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets brought National Poetry Month into prominence, making April a time for literary celebration.

To help make your literary celebration one to remember, we found some of the best ways you can send out poetic vibes, improve your writing, and practice literary citizenship.


Start the month with two events!

  • Dark Garden by Brian Andreas

    Dark Garden by Brian Andreas

    First Pulitzer-prize nominee Brian Andreas TONIGHT from 5:00 to 6:15 in the Cave Theatre. This will be an informal question and answer session. Andreas is the creator of the Storypeople universe, made up of books and artworks populated by multicolored people who speak in brief, wise, simple, sometimes poignant, often funny, always engaging storypoems on how to live the good life. (For more see Storypeople.com). This event is sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Dance.

  • Then, go the the Midwest Writers Workshop Poetry Reading at Vera Mae’s Bistro, 209 S. Walnut Street, downtown Muncie…tonight! Who’s reading?
    • MWWveraMitchell L.H. Douglas, associate professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Douglas is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a Cave Canem fellow, and Poetry Editor for PLUCK!: the Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. His second poetry collection, \blak\ \al-fə bet\, winner of the 2011 Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor’s Choice Award, is available from Persea Books.
    • Shari Wagner, author of two books of poetry: The Harmonist at Nightfall: Poems of Indiana (Bottom Dog Press, 2013) and Evening Chore (Cascadia, 2005). She was co-winner of Shenandoah’s The Carter Prize for the Essay (2009) and the recipient of two Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Fellowships, as well as grants from the Indiana Arts Commission.
      Allison Nusbaum, a *junior at Ball State University* majoring in creative writing with a minor in screenwriting. While she still hopes to become a Hollywood screenwriter, she has also recently discovered her love of poetry.
  • Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day by carrying around your favorite poem and sharing it with friends. If you want to make your friends uncomfortable, share the poem in a crowded place. Through a megaphone.

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The Visiting Writers Series presents Joyelle McSweeney on Sept. 24

The English Department’s Visiting Writers Series invites you to an evening with poet, playwright, and publisher Joyelle McSweeney on September 24th at 7:30 PM in Bracken Library 104.

Who is Joyelle McSweeney?

Poet, novelist, publisher, and critic Joyelle McSweeney explores the way that writing is impacted by and transcends genre, language, and medium.

What does she write?

While McSweeney may be best known for her award winning poetry, her books span the range of literary genres, including the novel Flet, a work of speculative fiction, which has been compared to iconic novels like 1984 and Brave New World.

McSweeney is also co-founder of Action Yes Online Quarterly, an online journal that includes diverse forms of creative writing and visual art, and Action Books, a press focused on publishing poetry and prose translations.

She is the author of seven books of poetry and prose including, most recently, Salamandrine, 8 Gothics (stories and a play), and Percussion Grenade (poems and a play).

Where does she live and teach?

McSweeney is associate professor of English and the director of creative writing at University of Notre Dame.

Meet Joyelle September 24th at 7:30 PM in Bracken Library 104. All students and faculty are encouraged to attend. 

If you plan to attend, please add the event to your calendar and tell your friends on social media.

Professor Peter Davis Publishes His Third Poetry Book: ‘TINA’

Assistant professor of English Peter Davis recently published “TINA,” his third complete poetry book, in April 2013. In 2010, he published “Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!”, and in 2006, he published “Hitler’s Mustache.” For an inside look on “TINA,” read the interview below conducted by English department intern Daniel Brount. 

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In Print Interview: Marcus Wicker, Poet

Marcus Wicker is this year’s poet for the In Print Festival of First Books, which will be on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week! His debut collection of poems, Maybe the Saddest Thingwas selected for the National Poetry Series and published last year by Harper Perennial. Below, Wicker discusses his book, inspirations, and writing experiences among other topics in an interview conducted by Makayla Sickbert. Also, be sure to check out interviews with In Print Festival’s fiction author Eugene Cross and nonfiction author Elena Passarello, and don’t forget to join us on March 19 and 20 at 7:30 PM in the Student Center Ballroom for the 8th annual In Print Festival of First Books!

*Photo provided by Marcus Wicker

*Photo provided by Marcus Wicker

Marcus Wicker’s first book Maybe the Saddest Thing was selected for the National Poetry Series and published by Harper Perennial in 2012. He has received fellowships from The Poetry Foundation, Cave Canem, the Fine Arts Work Center, and Indiana University. Wicker’s work has appeared in Poetry, Beloit, Third Coast, and Ninth Letter, among other journals. He is assistant professor of English at University of Southern Indiana and poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review.

The following interview was conducted by Broken Plate 2013 student faculty member Makayla Sickbert.

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The Visiting Writers Series Presents Danielle Cadena Deulen

On Wednesday, February 13, The Visiting Writers Series will present a reading by writer Danielle Cadena Deulen. The Riots, her book of personal essays, won the AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction and the GLCA New Writers Award. Her collection of poems, Lovely Asunder, won the Miller Willams Arkansas Poetry Prize. Be sure to join us on Wednesday in Letterman 125 at 7:30 PM for this free event!

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