Author Kea Wilson during her master class with creative writing students.
Students write their own horror stories during Wilson's master class.
On Nov. 30, creative writing students welcomed Interlochen Arts Academy alumna Kea Wilson (IAC 97-00, IAA 01-05) back to The Writing House for a student-led interview, master class and reading.
Wilson released her debut novel, “We Eat Our Own,” in Sept. 2016. The novel’s plot follows a struggling actor in the 1970s who travels to Colombia to star in a horror film—and finds horror both on and off set.
Wilson shared her journey with students, explaining that as a young writer, she fell in love with two seemingly incompatible genres: literary and horror fiction. “I thought horror and literary fiction belonged in separate sections of the bookstore,” she said. “It turns out I was wrong.”
At Interlochen, Wilson expanded her writing horizons, but always maintained a deep affection for the horror genre. While at the Academy, she developed the concept that eventually became “We Eat Our Own.”
During her master class, Wilson then tackled some of the common myths that writers have about the horror genre, which, as a teenager, had held her back from writing horror stories. For example, Wilson challenged the notion that horror fiction seeks only to terrify its audience; instead, she argued, horror fiction provides a platform for authors and readers to ask core questions about the human condition. Wilson offered Night of the Living Dead as an excellent example of this concept, and encouraged students to watch the film and analyze its underlying themes.
Wilson paused midway through the lecture to allow the students to write the beginnings of a horror story based on the concepts she had introduced. The session concluded with several students sharing their work with the class. Wilson praised the students’ work and encouraged them to finish the stories they had begun during the class session.
After the students shared their work, Wilson opened the floor to student questions. One student asked Wilson about the process of researching “We Eat our Own,” particularly if she had traveled to Colombia to understand the setting. Wilson explained that while she was unable to travel to Colombia, she attempted to immerse herself in the environment in other ways. Wilson researched the 1970s to provide context to the sociopolitical issues of the day. To understand the setting, she visited botanical gardens and zoos, and watched numerous videos about the flora and fauna of the Amazon rainforest.
Later that evening, Wilson returned for a reading from her novel, “We Eat Our Own.” Wilson also signed books, answered questions and spoke with the editors of The Interlochen Review during her visit.
A student reads during the first "Red Wheelbarrow" release of the year.
Copies of the first edition of "The Red Wheelbarrow" of 2017-18 arranged for students to pick up.
On Oct. 19, the Creative Writing division celebrated the release of the first edition of “The Red Wheelbarrow” of the 2017-18 Academy year.
“The Red Wheelbarrow” is a quarterly literary magazine produced by creative writing students, and features the poetry, short stories and art of current Arts Academy students.
As traditional, the young writers celebrated the magazine’s release with a public reading of selections from the magazine by the contributing authors. Between readings, guests also enjoyed performances of original songs by Interlochen’s singer-songwriter students. The evening concluded with light refreshments and the distribution of copies of “The Red Wheelbarrow.”
The editors of The Interlochen Review interview Jacques Rancourt.
One week after their first Red Wheelbarrow reading of 2017-18, Arts Academy creative writers had another exciting Thursday.
Poet Jacques Rancourt visited campus on Oct. 26, presenting a master class and a reading for the students. Rancourt is the author of Novena, winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd prize. His poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review, jubilat, New England Review, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Best New Poets 2014, among others.
Rancourt began the master class session by having each student draw a three-by-three grid on a sheet of paper. In column one, he instructed students to write three different imagery ideas. In column two, he asked them to list three national events that occurred during their lifetimes. And in column three, he asked the students to record three personal memories.
Once the students finished, Rancourt introduced the idea of the “narrative braid,” the format that Rancourt himself uses in the creation of his nonfiction poetry. The “narrative braid” weaves different elements together to complicate and humanize national events. Rancourt encouraged students to use their three-column chart to create their own “narrative braid” poetry.
Rancourt then reinforced the concept by having the students read three different poems and having students identify the “strands” of the braid.
Shortly after the master class concluded, Rancourt returned to The Writing House to present a reading of his own works and sign books that students had purchased earlier. The editors of the Interlochen Review also interviewed Rancourt in Interlochen Public Radio’s Studio A.
Two students pose with books purchased at the festival.
Students grab coffee between sessions at the Harbor Springs Festival of the Book.
On the bus home after an exciting day at the Festival of the Book.
On Sept. 30, several creative writing students and instructor Brittany Cavallaro traveled to Harbor Springs for the annual Festival of the Book.
The students spent their Saturday attending panels and listening to readings. Before lunch, the students selected from one of two panels: “Making the Fantastic Believable” or “Tales from the Outsider.”
For lunch, students attended the two-hour “Soup and Stories” session, which featured readings by authors including Erin Entrada Kelly, Kia Corthron, David Francis and Ben Loory -- as well as several hearty soups.
Afternoon session options included “Words With Pictures and Pictures With Words,” “The Art of Writing Short Works” and poetry readings by writers including Laura Shovan, Fleda Brown, Marcus Wicker and Cindy Hunter Morgan. Another afternoon option, “Secrets, Legacies and Heritage,” featured Interlochen Arts Camp alumna Victoria Redel (IAC/NMC 71).
A student participates in the junior reading on May 11.
On May 11, 2017, junior Creative Writing majors presented a reading of their own original works at the Writing House. Seven junior students participated in the reading, with selections including fiction, poetry, nonfiction and a new genre to The Writing House: Fan fiction. The students and their guests moved outside after the reading to roast marshmallows for s’mores over The Writing House’s outdoor fireplace.
The Creative Writing faculty hope to make the junior reading an annual event.
This Wednesday, May 24, from 6-7 p.m., the Performing Literature class invites you to join them in The Writing House for an evening of interactive performance and writing. The performance is inspired in part by Yoko Ono's famous book of instruction and drawings: "grapefruit."
The rooms of The Writing House will be remade as installations, performance venues, and private areas for the audience to reflect, write and participate.
Grapefruit-flavored refreshments will be served.
Finally, your last chance to catch a creative writing reading this year will be on Thursday, May 25 at 4 p.m. in the Dendrinos Chapel and Recital Hall.
Thank you to all of our students, seniors and post-grads for making the 2016-17 academic year one to remember.
Tyehimba Jess eats lunch with Creative Writing students.
On April 13, Creative Writing hosted their last guest author of the 2016-17 academic year.
Poet Tyehimba Jess visited The Writing House to present a reading from his new anthology of poetry, Olio, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry just days before his visit. Jess’s earlier collection, Leadbelly, was published in 2004 and was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series.
Prior to his reading, Jess led several masterclasses, and was interviewed by the editors of the Interlochen Review.
Jess currently works as an Associate Professor of English at the College of Staten Island and is the Poetry and Fiction Editor of the African American Review.
Garth Greenwell discusses writing techniques with the students.
Greenwell signs copies of his novel for the Creative Writing students.
In late February and early March, the Creative Writing Department welcomed two published Interlochen alumni back to campus.
Garth Greenwell (IAA 94-96), whose debut novel, What Belongs to You, is nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction, taught a master class for the students on Feb. 23. Later that evening, Greenwell also presented a reading from his acclaimed novel.
On March 1, the students welcomed alumna Kate Angus (IAA 90-94) back to campus for a reading from her new book of poems, So Late to the Party.
On Jan. 16, 2017, senior Alexa Bleasdale-Curnutte was named among several of her peers as a recipient in the Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards West Central Michigan division. Additionally, Curnutte was recognized by the same group as a 2017 American Voices and Visions award nominee.
The week prior, Curnutte spent the week in Miami, Fla with several of her classmates celebrating their 2017 YoungArts win. From the pool of YoungArts recipients, Curnutte was selected as a nominee for the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.
Congratulations to Curnutte and to her classmates on their accomplishments!
Creative writing wrapped up the first semester with the release of the second 2016-17 edition of Red Wheelbarrow. Red Wheelbarrow is Interlochen’s quarterly self-published literary magazine, which includes the best works of Interlochen’s creative writers. Red Wheelbarrow has been an Interlochen Arts Academy tradition since its founding in 1975.
On Dec. 8, Creative Writing celebrated the release of this latest edition with a public reading by several of the edition's featured writers. Congratulations to all of our featured writers!
Creative Writing student Rachel Litchman won The Offbeat Magazine’s first annual Flash Fiction and Prose Poetry contest.
Litchman, a senior, was awarded first prize and $150 for her piece "Erasure." "Erasure" will also be published in the Fall 2016 edition of The Offbeat. The contest was judged by author Michael Martone, who is the author/editor of Winesburg, Indiana, Four for a Quarter: Fictions and many other books.
The Offbeat Magazine is a biannual literary magazine affiliated with Michigan State University’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures.
Justin Hopper chats with Creative Writing students after his presentation.
Two guest artists were highlights of the month of November in Creative Writing.
The first was Justin Hopper, who visited campus on November 3. Hopper, an England-based poet, nonfiction writer and multimedia artist, gave a poetry reading and multimedia presentation before mingling with students. Hopper’s latest book, Weird Old Albion, was published in June.
Later, former artist-in-residence Chris Dombrowski returned to campus for a series of master classes with Creative Writing students. Born in Michigan, Dombrowski currently resides in Montana, where he utilizes his career as a fishing guide as inspiration for his poems about nature. Dombrowski’s latest anthology, Body of Water, was released in September.
Creative Writing students pose with Fatimah Asgar and Franny Choi after the master class.
Sometimes, at Interlochen Arts Academy, master class artists come to us. Other times, we go to them!
The creative writing students hit the road on Sept. 24 for a day trip to Ann Arbor to visit the Dark Noise Collective. The multi-racial, multi-genre poetry collective is comprised of poets Fatimah Asghar, Franny Choi, Nate Marshall, Aaron Samuels, Danez Smith and Jamila Woods. During their visit, the young writers spent several hours participating in workshops with Fatimah Asghar and Franny Choi. Several videos and photos from the trip can be found on the Writing House’s Instagram page.
This is Interlochen’s second collaboration with the Dark Noise Collective this year; over the summer, poet Danez Smith visited Interlochen Arts Camp to present a reading and teach a master class for summer writing students.
On Oct. 7, the creative writing students welcomed local author Bonnie Jo Campbell to the Writing House for an evening of master classes and readings.
Campbell is the author of several popular novels, including American Salvage, Once Upon a River, Q Road, Women and Other Animals and Our Working Lives. American Salvage was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction; Women and Other Animals won the AWP Prize for fiction.
Campbell brought the students a box of limited-edition comic books of her latest novel, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters. After her reading, Campbell mingled with students and signed autographs.
On Friday April 29th the Creative Writing program celebrated the launch of the April issue of Red Wheelbarrow by making stew for 50 hungry writers over an open fire, followed by S'mores and a spectacular reading of work from the latest issue.
On Saturday, a distinguished slate of Interlochen creative writing alumni returned to campus for a day-long mini-conference aimed at helping current students gain greater perspective on the various issues facing writers in the 21st century, as well as how their Interlochen education is preparing them for various career paths.
The day was capped off with a reading by current and former Interlochen faculty, a group whose total years of teaching and writing experience totals 98 years.
Check out the Creative Writing division's Tumblr for recordings of all the events.
According to Interlochen alumna Brittany Cavallaro it is possible to create something that both honors and critiques its source material. As Cavallaro spoke to a crowd of students, guests and faculty members in The Writing House earlier this month she revealed that she completely immersed herself in the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while writing her first young adult novel A Study In Charlotte. Yet, regardless of how much she enjoyed his work she found some of the antiquated ideologies and notions rather problematic in a modern sensibility.
“Why aren’t there stories of female geniuses?” Cavallaro vexed while discussing the genesis of her titular character. “Modern adaptations of Sherlock entirely skim over the fact that he was a cocaine user,” she added.
In the end, Cavallaro wanted to create a young female protagonist with depth. Someone full of strengths, flaws and the penchant to grow as we all do at that age.
You can learn more about Brittany Cavallaro at brittanycavallaro.com. A Study in Charlotte is out now.
As part of the continued 40th anniversary of the Creative Writing program, current creative writing majors and notable alumni of the program will convene at Interlochen’s Writing House at the end of April for a two-day creative writing mini-conference.
The conference kicks off Friday, April 29, with a dinner and Red Wheelbarrow reading in the evening, featuring six current creative writing majors.
Day two includes presentations such as “I Learn By Going Where I Have to Go,” in which Interlochen creative writing alumni Mohammed Ali, Jeremy Chamberlain and other writers reflect on their changing relationship to writing; “Post-Inty, Post-College, Post MFA, Now What?” with Jamie Delp, Kara Krewer and more, moderated by Lesley Tye; and other programs.
The conference will close with a “Past and Present” reading featuring current writing faculty Adam Atkinson, Director of Creative Writing Dave Griffith, and retired faculty Anne-Marie Oomen, Mike Delp, and Jack Driscoll.
The conference will be webcast via Google Hangouts. Further information is available on the Interlochen Center for the Arts Creative Writing Facebook Page.
Over spring break Interlochen creative writing faculty attended the Associated Writing Programs conference in Los Angeles. Director, Dave Griffith and instructors Mika Perrine and Adam Atkinson attended the yearly conference as part of their yearly professional growth plans. The conference offers numerous panel discussions on important issues facing writers and teachers of writing, as well as hosts readings by some of the world's most prominent writers. Griffith, Perrine, and Atkinson also participated in presentations.
Griffith is the head of the national Caucus for K-12 Teachers of Creative Writing (see description below), and so he conducted a brainstorming session with teachers from across the country on how to better serve their students. Perrine, a member of the caucus, lent her expert perspective to the caucus, both as an alum of Interlochen Arts Academy and as former director of the creative writing program.
Perrine, who is at work on her first novel, attended many panels on the ins and outs of publishing first books. Poetry instructor Adam Atkinson was a member of the panel, Counting Its Presence: Race and Creative Writing Syllabi, a panel questioning the lack of diversity in creative writing course reading lists. The panelists, have been working together over the past year and half to collect syllabi from hundreds of graduate level creative writing courses, and then counting up the various kinds of books and writer taught in those courses. Atkinson and his fellow panelists found that the vast majority (87%) of the texts taught in the courses they surveyed were authored by white male writers.
After the conference, Griffith visited Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California to give a reading and master class on writing personal essays.
Four current Interlochen Arts Academy Creative Writing program students have received national honors in the 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in poetry, science fiction and in short stories. From the nearly 320,000 works of art and writing submitted to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, only the top 1 percent end up recognized on the national level.
National award recipients included creative writers: Sarah Arnett (senior), Alexa Curnutte (junior), Lizzy Lemieux (junior) and Annalise Lozier (junior). A complete list of their works and honors can be found at the bottom of this story.
Congratulations to all of our national recipients and to the dozens of students who brought home regional honors earlier this year.
Sarah Arnett, Second Chances for the Shell Station on Route 30, Silver Medal (Poetry)
Alexa Curnutte, Life Moving Forward, Gold Medal (Short Story)
Lizzy Lemieux, Garden Girl-For Evy, Silver Medal (Poetry)
Lizzy Lemieux, Matryoshka, Gold Medal (Poetry)
Lizzy Lemieux, Matryoshka, American Voices Medal (Poetry)
Lizzy Lemieux, Sunny Side Up, Silver Medal (Poetry)
Lizzy Lemieux, The Making of a Femme Fatale, Gold Medal (Short Story)
Annalise Lozier, Coriolis, Gold Medal (Science Fiction)
Sprawled on the knotty-pine furniture and seated cross-legged on the floor of The Writing House's great hall, 28 creative writing students listened to author Marya Hornbacher discuss the writing process that lead her to create her novels, including the New York Times best-seller Madness: A Bipolar Life.
An Interlochen alumna (IAA 89-90), Hornbacher now teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Northwestern University and lives in Chicago. This was her first trip back to Interlochen, where she was to give a presentation on her work and life on Feb. 25.
"This is a little odd," she told the room. "Because the last time I was here I was 16. And a lot has changed!"
Hornbacher is familiar with change. As a teen, she was battling bipolar disorder, a struggle that she would later pour into her hauntingly personal memoirs of addiction and recovery that include Madness as well as Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the Twelve Steps; Waiting: A Nonbeliever's Higher Power; and her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, which she published at the age of 23.
Now a Pulitzer-nominated author, Hornbacher talked energetically to the students about her own trials and transformations, she is humble about her success. "I'm a very small drop in the bucket," she says. "The bucket is what's fascinating. I'm not."
She answered questions with detailed personal stories, and discussed with them how to get their personal stories to connect with readers, an important but elusive literary element—but one which she has managed successfully in her own writing.
Walking the students through a variety of writing exercises, she shared tips on self-editing. Her advice is brief: "Cross out all the clichés." "Lose all the ‘feeling' words." "Integrate what you don't know into what you have authority on." "Always consider your relationship to your topic." "Context is everything!" Her explanations on each, however, were richly layered, detailing examples from her own life and her books and her time as a struggling writer.
She fielded question after question from the young writers, and their enthusiasm reminded her of her own youth. "You can write about that. You're young. You will write about teenage angst and gloom and heartache and uncertainty because that's what you do at 16, 17, 18. But you'll find your voice here, and you have to go through all that to do it," she told them.
Remembering her own teenage years, she credited her attendance at Interlochen with helping her form the basis for her career as a writer. The amount of knowledge she said she'd gained while at Interlochen is summed up in one word: "Tons!"
"I learned so much about who I am as a writer here, especially from Jack Driscoll (IAA creative writing instructor, 1975-2008)," Hornbacher said. "I remember he returned one of my poems, and it was just shredded; just torn apart and covered in red ink. And at the bottom, he had written ‘Good Poem.' And that really changed me. It really taught me how to edit my work. That was probably the most salient piece of instruction I received."
After more than an hour of speaking, Hornbacher signed autographs in copies of her books for the students. They each shared a personal insight or question with her; she told one student not to be afraid of being brutally honest in the self-editing of her work. So perhaps not much has changed after all.
The Glazner Creative Writing Contest is an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to compete for a chance at publication in Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s online journal, Jackalope Magazine.
Interlochen Center for the Arts creative writing students made a clean sweep of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design's Glazner Prize in creative writing. Our students placed first, second, and third in this national competition that received over 70 entries from nearly 40 high schools.
The winners were:
- First Place: Alexa Curnutte, junior
- Second Place: Annalise Lozier, junior
- Third Place: S. Makai Andrews, senior
To learn more about the Glazner Prize for Creative Writing visit the Santa Fe University of Art and Design website.
Earlier this week, Jamie Innis from UpNorthLive News featured the Arts Academy creative writing program in her ongoing segment about the best and brightest of Interlochen. You can read her report on UpNorthLive.com or watch the video feature above.
Creative writing students receive top marks in Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
On Jan. 19, the annual Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards announced their West Central Michigan 2016 Art Award recipients, and Interlochen Arts Academy’s Creative Writing students stood out as a major winners.
“One thing I’m really happy about is that we had a wide range of students (from first-years to post-grads) place in a wide range of categories—from flash fiction, short story, poetry, and dramatic script, to sci-fi/fantasy, personal essay/memoir, critical essay, and journalism,” said David Griffith, director of Interlochen’s Creative Writing division.
Eighteen of Interlochen’s creative writing majors accumulated a whopping 95 total awards, including 17 prestigious Gold Keys. In addition, two juniors, Lizzie Lemieux (the 2015 Virginia Ball Scholarship winner) and Alexa Curnutte, had their original works nominated for the American Visions & Voices award. Lemieux had four pieces nominated and Cumutte had one.
In the award categories, Gold Key refers to the highest level of achievement on the regional level. Approximately 7-10 percent of all regional submissions are recognized with Gold Key Awards and all are considered for national-level recognition. Impressively, in the American Visions & Voices category, only five works are selected out of all Gold Key works as the “Best in Show” for each region, and Interlochen’s Lemieux and Cumutte account for two of these five.
Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity and talent of the nation's youth, and provided opportunities for creative teens to be celebrated. The Awards are presented by The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, whose mission is to identify students with exceptional artistic and literary talent and present their remarkable work to the world through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Students receive opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarship.
Interlochen is incredibly proud of these award-winning students, and congratulates them along with the entire Creative Writing department.
Craig Bernier (third from left) with Interlochen Arts Academy Creative Writing faculty and students.
Bernier visited The Writing House on Dec. 2.
Bernier signs some books after the event.
- The Writing House hosted a reading by fiction writer Craig Bernier on Dec. 2. Bernier, a native of southeast Michigan, is the author of the short story collection Your Life Idyllic, winner of the St. Lawrence Book Award from Black Lawrence Press.
- Huge, HUGE congratulations to Interlochen Center for the Arts creative writing major Olivia Alger for being named a national finalist in the 2016 YoungArts competition in the Short Story category. Olivia is one of only 20 finalists nationwide. Also huge congratulations to Alexa Curnutte and Lola Todman for receiving merit recognition in the Short Story and Creative Non-fiction categories, respectively.
Writer Linda Leavell came to the Writing House on Nov. 3 to speak to Creative Writing students.
Linda Leavell speaks to Creative Writing students at The Writing House.
Leavell is author of Holding on Upside Down, a biography of poet Marianne Moore.
Interlochen alum Linda Leavell (IAA 69-71) visited The Writing House on Nov. 3 to talk with students about her long career as a Professor of English and read from her award-winning biography of poet Marianne Moore, Holding On Upside Down.
The first issue of Red Wheelbarrow, the creative writing program's literary quarterly, was published on Oct. 29 and celebrated with a reading by the contributors.
Creative Writing students read at "Northern Light: Celebrating 40 Years of Creative Writing at Interlochen."
Creative Writing majors gather on stage at the event celebrating the division's 40th anniversary.
This fall has been full of notable events for Interlochen Arts Academy's Creative Writing students.
Novelist Matt Bell visited Interlochen to give a master class to students, followed later in the evening by a reading at a local bookstore from his new novel, Scrapper.
The Creative Writing students collaborated to create a performance titled "Northern Light: Celebrating 40 Years of Creative Writing at Interlochen."
Interlochen Arts Academy Creative Writing student Annalise Lozier recently won two awards for her poetry. She received a $1,000 prize for winning the 2015 Luminarts Cultural Foundation creative writing award, and she was named one of 85 Foyle Young Poets of the Year. She was selected from nearly 6,000 entrants this year from across the world. Winners were invited to a special awards ceremony in London on National Poetry Day on Oct. 8, 2015.
Fiction writer Stuart Dybek visited Interlochen Center for the Arts in May. He took part in a q&a with students, joined creative writing students at IPR for an interview, and gave a public reading. Conversations ranged from the line between fiction and nonfiction, flash fiction, the creation of mood, and his influences (Cortazar, Borges, and Kafka).
Two pieces of great news to pass along:
Interlochen Center for the Arts creative writing student Sarah Arnett has been named the winner of Albion College's 2015 Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry Contest for her poem "Camellia Sinensis." Sarah's poem was selected from over 1300 entries. The other piece of great news is that second prize went to Interlochen creative writing student Jehan Segal.
Both poets will be awarded cash prizes and have their poems published in the forthcoming Albion Review.
Congratulations Sarah and Jehan!
April is a busy month for us in the Writing House!
On April 2, award-winning poet Jamaal May visited with students and gave a public reading.
On April 7, students in Dave Griffith's Nonfiction Workshop Skyped with novelist and nonfiction writer Vanessa Vaselka. Vaselka's novel Zazen was the winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham award and her essays have been featured in national publications, including the Best American Essays series.
On April 9, creative writing students Olivia Alger, Jehan Segal, and Lily Walker performed as part of the collaborative performance with Grammy Award-winning music ensemble eighth blackbird. Each of them wrote and recited original poems for the event.
April 17, the creative writing division will welcome legendary poet Marvin Bell to campus, and on April 23 will be the launch of the fourth and final issue of Red Wheelbarrow, Interlochen's literary quarterly.
Over the last few weeks, creative writing students enrolled in Mika Perrine's course, "Literary Publications," have been Skyping with editors at some of the top literary journals in the country, including Academy alumna Brittany Cavallaro of Devil's Lake, Steven Church of The Normal School and Stacey Waite of Tupelo Quarterly. The students asked questions about how to start, market, and maintain a journal and how to create a robust web presence. The students in Perrine's class are also in the process of reading submissions for the 2015 edition of the Interlochen Review, our own online literary annual. This year they have received submissions not just from Interlochen writers, but students from schools across the country.
What a privilege to have Kazim Ali join us here on campus last week. His question and answer session with students and his public reading were both amazing and he read to a packed room here at the Writing House. He was so generous in talking about his writing process and the journeys leading him through the writing of several collections, books of essays and translations. Thank you, Kazim!
So far this semester the Creative Writing program has hosted readings by 2004 Interlochen Arts Academy alum Brittany Cavallaro and essayist Megan Stielstra. Cavallaro recently won the Akron University Press book prize and a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature. Stielstra is the author of Once I Was Cool, and is the director of 2nd Story, a Chicago-based oral storytelling performance troupe. She teaches at Columbia College in Chicago and the MFA program at Northwestern University.
The results from the Midwest regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards were announced on Tuesday, and I happy to report that Interlochen creative writing students have earned a total of 54 awards, which exceeds last year's impressive total of 51. Fourteen students received recognition. Of those, three students received Gold Key Awards for their work. Alexa Curnutte received Gold Keys in three different categories. Any student who receives a Gold Key Award will move on to the national competition. Those results will be announced on March 17th. Nine students received Silver Keys and thirteen students received Honorable Mention. The success of our younger students was particularly notable, which makes me very excited for the future.
During the first week of Inter*Mester, Creative Writing students worked with novelist Brittani Sonnenberg, author of "Home Leave," on the importance of cultural identity and place in their writing, as well as how to use personal experience as fodder for their creative work. She led them in exercises that helped them reflect on these issues.
During the second week of Inter*Mester, Leslie Tye, instructor of creative writing and motion picture arts, and Kyle Novy, instructor in the singer-songwriter program, are leading creative writing and singer-songwriting students in a collaboration that focuses on the musicality of language. The collaboration will culminate this Friday with each group performing an original composition.
Coming up in January and February, the Writing House will host readings by guest writers Brittany Cavallaro (an Interlochen Arts Academy alum), essayist Megan Stielstra, and poet Kazim Ali. Stay tuned to the Creative Writing division blog for more information on these exciting writers.
Congratulations to the three creative writing students who received recognition from YoungArts this fall! Students who were recognized as finalists will be invited to attend National YoungArts Week in January. From all the finalists across the country, twenty will be selected as Presidential Scholars in the Arts, the nation’s highest honor for young artists.
Ashanti Davis (Finalist)
Molly McDaniel (Honorable Mention)
Olivia Alger (Merit)
At rehearsal for the Red Wheelbarrow Reading this evening.
Congratulations to francine j. harris on her poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts!
An instructor of creative writing at Interlochen, this is the latest of many accomplishments in her career. Her first collection, allegiance, reached the number one spot on the national poetry bestseller's list and was a finalist for the 2013 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, 2013 PEN Open Book Award and the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including recent publications in Sou’Wester, B O D Y and Southern Indiana Review. Originally from Detroit, she is a Cave Canem fellow and was the Front Street Writers Writer-in-Residence in Traverse City.
We had the privilege of spending a day with Terrance Hayes, a poet and MacArthur fellow. Not only did we have a chance to hear him read from his work, our students also had the opportunity to interview him at Interlochen Public Radio and ask him questions about his career path. Only at Interlochen!
The opening of the Academy year has been very busy at the Writing House. We have already hosted three impressive, accomplished, and diverse guest writers. On September 19th, award-winning international investigative journalist Kira Kay visited The Writing House. Kay is executive director of the Bureau for International Reporting (BIR) – a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing and providing vital international television news programming. Kay screened a story she wrote and produced for PBS and then answered questions about reporting and the skills necessary to make a career in the journalism.
In the past, the writing program has not hosted many journalists, but given increased need for strong reporting and fact-based storytelling around issues of global concern, we at the Writing House feel that it is time to really start embracing journalism. Stay tuned to this blog for more information about how journalism is being integrated into our already very strong creative writing curriculum.
On September 25th, British novelist James Reich gave a reading at The Writing House. Reich read from his two novels and then answered a wide array of questions, from how novelists integrate research into their work to building believable characters.
On October 2nd, poet John Casteen visited campus to talk with them about the craft of poetry and give a reading. He spoke at length about the way that his poetry is informed by music ranging from bluegrass to rap, and how a sense of place and landscape are vital to any artist’s work.
Looking ahead to the end of the month, we are very excited to be hosting poet Terrance Hayes. Hayes is a recent recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, one of the most prestigious awards bestowed on cultural innovators. His reading will be webcast LIVE on October 30th from The Writing House, so please tune-in!