[Photo of a skunk? Yes, photo of a skunk. Explanation below.]
Oh, this is the day you begin to ask your friends if anyone knows what day of the week it is. Busy, busy, busy - in fact, can I remember all the way back to this morning?
We had a wonderful lecture by Rita Williams-Garcia about stereotypes, stock characters and cliches. Bottom line - some of these tired, familiar things represent "truths," but only the shell of the truth - as writers, it's our job to fill in that shell, give our characters substance, make the characters new and fresh. Tell a story, don't stay with the surface cliche.
The faculty had lunch with VCFA's Academic Dean, Gary Moore. Wonderful to hear his reports about Strategic Planning (no, really, it isn't dull - it's exciting!) Part of his report was about the library, which now has a huge collection of graphic novels to share between the Writing for Children Program and the OP (the Other Program - regular Writing MFA.) Plans are to clear out unused books from the old Union Institute days and really revitalize our collection with everything related to Fine Arts - literature, performance arts, visual arts. Oh, can't wait to see that!
I had to miss Sharon Darrow's lecture because there was an Advisory Committee meeting and I am now on the AC. Also on the Academic Council. I'm turning into a bureaucrat....
Carol Allen, Danielle Pignataro and Jen Taylor gave their graduate readings today - such accomplished writing. And again, such a lot of laughter. DP especially had people in stitches with her work in progress.
Seems like today was a real get-business-done day - lots of end-of-semester meetings between faculty and students moving up. And then the huge job (for students) of interviewing the faculty - today the 1st and 2nd semester students came to talk with us about how we work on packets, what we emphasize, what we want to see from students. I sat with Sarah Ellis and Alan Cumyn for this, in order to save students a little time, so they didn't have to come/go so quickly: three of us at once. I certainly love to hear my colleagues talk about what's important to them - again, reinforcing the idea that this program provides for a tremendous amount of personalization about the projects undertaken and the responses from advisors.
The evening reading ran long as Marion Dane Bauer, Sharon Darrow and Uma Krishnaswami read from their fiction and I read from my poetry - and then graduate assistants joined us upstairs in the faculty lounge for a late evening of talk... ended finally by a skunk somewhere outside....phew! He cleared the room before midnight, and all of us owe him a debt of gratitude - an hour more sleep tonight than we might have had otherwise!
Here's a little poem I read tonight (and no, I haven't forgotten that I'm supposed to be giving you details about Alan Cumyn's brilliant lecture! Can I just promise you "Maybe tomorrow if I can find five minutes?" Those of you who know the residency schedules know that five minutes free time is quite a find) :
I'm a pig and I cavort
in mud and messes
all day long,
singing out this piggly song:
Big Wig Piggy! Splendid Swine!
Emperor Pig! Pig Divine!
This poem is from a recent collaboration with the children's poet J. Patrick Lewis (tentatively titled CRAZY DAYS) celebrating strange holidays - Did you know that March 1st is National Pig Day??? And hey, just a head's up: tomorrow (well, July 14th - it's already after midnight now) is Pandemonium Day. Go create some!