Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day What?? of the VCFA Residency

David Macaulay in his Vermont studio....

Yes, I'm asking, "Day What??" I've reached the day when I don't know what day it is. I think it's Friday. NO, it's Thursday. I think it's Day 5, because wasn't Day 2 just 2 days ago? Day 5 - I do think that's right. Which is a problem, because it means I have 6 days to go, and already I need a personal assistant to keep me from losing the following: my keys, my gloves, my hat, my notebook, my pink schedule, my miscellaneous papers, my VCFA portable coffee cup. my pen, my mind.

Here's a meager wrap-up for the last couple of days:

Class photos - big group, same sweet photographer trying to round up the barnyard full of crazy chickens.

Workshops going full swing. All I can say about Writer-in-Residence David Macaulay visiting Uma's and my Picture Book workshop is OH MY GOD - he brought his sketchbooks (all the way from 1973 to current project) and all the re-done art for the completely revisited/redrawn version of Cathedral (which is contained in its entirety within his book BUILT TO LAST, along with Castle and Mosque. ) The man is so generous. He talked with the PB workshop members for the full 2 and 1/4 hours, and he's meeting with three different groups of students over in Dewey Lounge for three different meals, and he's visiting Laura Kvasnosky's small workshop (focused on writer-illustrators) and he's given a reading and a slide show...and tomorrow he talks with Grace Lin in a Q&A session - he just seems completely available, attending lectures, etc. Not a fussy guest; he's not the kind that only come out to join the group when they have to!

Wednesday was technically "Revision Day" - both Franny Billingsley and Mary Quattlebaum lectured about revising work (Franny's used the over-arching theme of a car tune-up and Mary talked about basic poetry tools and using them when revising fiction for rhythm and sound.)

Grad lectures have begun - and so has the speed-dating (aka Faculty Interviews.) I'm sitting in on them even though I can't take any students other than my Picture Book people. I heard some wonderful ideas today from students about possible Critical Thesis projects.

Faculty Readings continue - Leda read, for the first time accompanied by full screen illustrations, her wonderful Ballet of the Elephants. Oh, I think it is glorious - great pictures for a text that knows exactly how much is right - not too much, not too little. I read, too - included among some counting songs I wrote were five Valentine poems to my husband based on the five faculty lectures we've heard so far. I'll post one below.

David's reading was based on the Introduction to BUILT TO LAST - reading, also, the entire pub. data page, delivered very seriously. Later, in the Faculty Lounge, he joined in with all the rest of us, singing our hearts out as Laura Kvasnosky played folk songs and Rock & Roll on her ukulele. You haven't lived until you've sung (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction with someone strumming the ukulele. Sorry, students over in Dewey Hall - you have nothing on us. And speaking of Dewey, the NECI cooks apparently have LOTS of cans of tomatoes to use up.

Thursday - very disappointed that the bookstore has run out of David's books - that's a shame. There are many people still wanting them. Honestly, the MacArthur "genius" grant he got was well-deserved. I could listen to him talk forever.

Grad lecture highlights for me: Kate Hosford gave us a wonderful presentation called Returning to a Place of Wonder: Reconnecting with Poetry, using examples of experiment-poems written by Sarah Cramer, Terry Pierce, Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy. I was so glad to hear it - nicely done! - but was sorry to miss Eric Pinder's lecture titled "Animal Attraction: Engaging the Reader with Realistic Animal Characters."

Scholarship winners were announced - Melanie Crowder got the Houghton Miflin/Harcourt prize (Honorable Mentions for Amy Emm and Skila Brown) and Maggie Lehrman got the Nutshell Short Story Award. Erin Barker won the Critical Thesis Prize. The Candlewick people split their scholarship between two people - Erin Hagar and Erin Barker. Hmmm...I'm forgetting something. Oh, the Norma Fox Mazer prize (her family attended the ceremony) and the Marion Dane Bauer Award. Miriam McNamara won one of those but...hmmm - no, sorry I can't quite remember everyone that won. There were other Honorable Mentions for different prizes, too. I'll fill those in later. Oh, I hope I've gotten all this right.

Grace Lin arrived on campus late this afternoon and participated in the faculty reading with a section from her new middle grade novel, not out yet, called Dumpling Days.

Alan, Martine, Jane and I went into town tonight to see TRUE GRIT - the new Coen Bros. movie - wonderful, of course. We got a private showing - we were the only people there.

I haven't been able to issue any Poetry Challenges, sorry! Too busy. Snow is building up on the grounds, which just turns the world white. Ice skaters yesterday on the temporary ice rink in the middle of the green.

Tomorrow: I'm looking forward to Cori McCarthy's lecture about Nuances in Naming. That sounds intriguing. And Uma's Picture Book people deliver their presentations. Oh - and Faculty Preference Forms are due. 

End of day - off to bed. Oh - here's one of my "Valentine to My Husband" poems, based on Alan's lecture about How Makes a Good Story II:

Sweetie, like a good story, you pack a punch.
No doubt about it, your upper cut
gets me in the chin, turns my pages,
burns my cheeks, makes me blush.
Gosh, when your action rises
I'm all, like, kapow....
and down I go. Technical knock out.

...and in the field.


  1. Oh, I wish I were there! What energy, creativity and love.

  2. Aww, thanks for the shout out, Julie! SO EXCITED to work with you this semester! :)