If you can’t write, research.
This summer I stuffed my car full of peanut butter, kidnapped my friend Tess from Philadelphia, and drove to northwest Kansas in order to live in a Super8 for 5 days and eat terrible salads at the local restaurants. 
Along the way I choked on a brisket and onion ring sandwich, participated in the western tradition of rodeo spectating, stared into a freezer full of rattlesnakes, learned the art of “mutton busting,” and got a bad case of trucker arm.
In Oberlin, KS (pop. 1,200 more or less), I met up with local reporter Ladd Wendelin. He kindly gave me and Tess the grand tour of abandoned towns and homesteads, as well as interviewing me for a feature in the paper.
This is that feature. Ladd was too kind and insisted on calling me an “author” even though I protested that I was really just a student. I guess “New York student explores county” doesn’t have the same ring of pretentiousness to it.
I didn’t get too much writing done, but I like to think I made up for it with experience. Sitting at my desk plodding away at my thesis can’t really compare to watching a grown man try to stay atop a seriously pissed off bull for 8 seconds.

If you can’t write, research.

This summer I stuffed my car full of peanut butter, kidnapped my friend Tess from Philadelphia, and drove to northwest Kansas in order to live in a Super8 for 5 days and eat terrible salads at the local restaurants.

Along the way I choked on a brisket and onion ring sandwich, participated in the western tradition of rodeo spectating, stared into a freezer full of rattlesnakes, learned the art of “mutton busting,” and got a bad case of trucker arm.

In Oberlin, KS (pop. 1,200 more or less), I met up with local reporter Ladd Wendelin. He kindly gave me and Tess the grand tour of abandoned towns and homesteads, as well as interviewing me for a feature in the paper.

This is that feature. Ladd was too kind and insisted on calling me an “author” even though I protested that I was really just a student. I guess “New York student explores county” doesn’t have the same ring of pretentiousness to it.

I didn’t get too much writing done, but I like to think I made up for it with experience. Sitting at my desk plodding away at my thesis can’t really compare to watching a grown man try to stay atop a seriously pissed off bull for 8 seconds.

The Moth Radio Hour at Avram Performing Arts Center during the Southampton Arts Summer Writer’s Conference. 
The Crew (starting at the top row and going left to right): Alissa LeClair, Adrienne Unger, Chris Byrd, Joe Birone, Carla Caglioti, Lou Ann Walker, Emily Gilbert, Julie Sheehan, Julianne Jones, and Ali Simpson.

The Moth Radio Hour at Avram Performing Arts Center during the Southampton Arts Summer Writer’s Conference.

The Crew (starting at the top row and going left to right): Alissa LeClair, Adrienne Unger, Chris Byrd, Joe Birone, Carla Caglioti, Lou Ann Walker, Emily Gilbert, Julie Sheehan, Julianne Jones, and Ali Simpson.

Them Dames: Jules Feiffer’s ‘Kill My Mother’

Bravo to long-time member of the SB Southampton faculty for another rave review of his first graphic novel. Here’s an excerpt: 

“Jules Feiffer’s Kill My Mother is a tribute to film noir and detective fiction….But Kill My Mother isn’t mere pastiche. The story is a thoughtful meditation on female identity and whether the not-so-simple art of murder can ever be defended as a moral necessity. It is a story about stories, the myths we have to create in order to keep putting one foot in front of the other….I know what I think: Kill My Mother is terrific.”

—Laura Lippman, New York Times Book Review (front page)

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Professor Feiffer’s graduate seminar in the graphic novel will be offered at Stony Brook Southampton, Spring, 2015

Some more writing advice…

…from The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do by Colin Nissan

KEEP IT TOGETHER

A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.

Read the rest at McSweeny’s Internet Tendency.

MFA vs. POC : The New Yorker

I didn’t have a great workshop experience. Not at all. In fact by the start of my second year I was like: get me the fuck out of here.
So what was the problem?
Oh just the standard problem of MFA programs.
That shit was too white.



Junot Diaz has something to say and we all should listen.

MFA vs. POC : The New Yorker

I didn’t have a great workshop experience. Not at all. In fact by the start of my second year I was like: get me the fuck out of here.

So what was the problem?

Oh just the standard problem of MFA programs.

That shit was too white.

Junot Diaz has something to say and we all should listen.

Writer’s Speak: You Benefit

February 2014:

Show up at a Writers Speak Wednesday sponsored by the MFA program in Creative Writing and Literature and you never know what could go down.

When Rita Nezami arrived at a WSW featuring Debra Treisman, an editor from The New Yorker magazine, she left with the heady possibility that her translation of French author Ben Jelloun might be featured in the next TNY, the Holy Grail of writers everywhere.  

The Stony Brook University lecturer and author never considered sending her translations to the The New Yorker. Treisman called upon Nezami during the post-reading Q&A, who introduced herself as a translator of French author Ben Jalloun and inquired about the New Yorker’s interest in translated works.  

Treisman, a fellow Jelloun translator, encouraged Nezami to send her one of her translations. Par le feu/By Fire, http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2013/09/16/130916fi_fiction_benjelloun  
a novella on the life and self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi that sparked the Arab Spring, was published in following TNY magazine issue.

Nezami was already a published writer in several U.S. and European journals including The Dirty Goat and Sojourn. However, her experience at WSW should encourage more writers to attend readings, not only to enrich their understanding of a writer’s work and process, but also to practice an important skill every writer who wishes to publish must develop: networking with fellow writers, agents, editors and publishers.

Nezami admits she was at the right place at the right time, but encourages writers to continue to believe, as she does that “good writing will eventually receive recognition.”

The Writers Speak series sponsored by the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature offers free author talks, readings, and engaging interviews with a distinguished guest list of writers, editors and key players in the world of publishing. Offered in Southampton on Wednesdays and Manhattan on Mondays, all Writers Speak events are open to the public as well as students enrolled in the MFA programs in Creative Writing and Literature and in Theatre and Film.

Don’t miss the first WSW this spring on February 25 with Alexandra Styron, author of the highly acclaimed memoir, Reading my Father.