Last week, I received my contributor copies of the Threepenny Review. It's a knock-out, and I'm honored to share space with writers I've admired for a long time: C.K. Williams (on the same page!), Dean Young, David Wagoner, Anne Carson, Kay Ryan, Roberto Bolano, and too many more to name. Get yourself a copy! Or, better still, subscribe!
In the spirit of football season, here's a great poem from Poetry Daily by Elizabeth Poliner, who just joined the permanent faculty at Hollins (lucky for Hollins, lucky for her). If you're in the thick of applying to MFAs, you should definitely consider Hollins. For me, it was perfect, and I'd be happy to answer any questions poetry applicants may have. And, while I value the spirit and intention of Seth Abramson's rankings, I think it'd be foolish to not look beyond them (and I'm not alone). I can't fathom some of the intricacies behind Hollins' recent movements in the rankings. The fact that we're ranked so high in non-fiction is evidence of how far the rankings are off the mark, not because Hollins doesn't have an excellent non-fiction program (it does), but because you can't find one writer on faculty who would classify themselves as an essayist (they'd likely all just call themselves writers, as they should, damn good ones, at that). And if you look at the last 5 years of graduates, you could probably count the 'non-fiction writers' on one hand. It's one of those situations where the perceived doesn't even begin to do justice to the reality. Okay, I'm off my soap-box. I just love that place so much, I want other people to have the chance to love it, too.
It’s important for people interested in a teaching job in creative writing to get a sense of what you’ll be up against with your debt load and current publication record. There are a handful of jobs for hundreds if not thousands of job seekers who are all highly credentialed. Of the available positions currently listed, 4 are in fiction, 5 are in poetry, 8 are open and 4 positions are for visiting lectureships. It is early in the job season, so more positions will likely be posted but not many. I would guess there will be 40-50 available positions in creative writing. Some of these searches will be cancelled when funding is pulled. Some of these searches will be run even though there are inside candidates. (The wiki will often have this information, which is nice.) When you compare that to the number of graduate students going on the market in the next couple years, the imbalance is pretty stark.
This seems ever pertinent as I eye my first serious foray into applying for a job teaching creative writing at the university level. Let's just say, I'm hopeful, but not optimistic.
From the beginning, the spectacle of doomed people jumping from the upper floors of the World Trade Center resisted redemption. They were called "jumpers" or "the jumpers," as though they represented a new lemminglike class. The trial that hundreds endured in the building and then in the air became its own kind of trial for the thousands watching them from the ground. No one ever got used to it; no one who saw it wished to see it again, although, of course, many saw it again. Each jumper, no matter how many there were, brought fresh horror, elicited shock, tested the spirit, struck a lasting blow. Those tumbling through the air remained, by all accounts, eerily silent; those on the ground screamed. It was the sight of the jumpers that prompted Rudy Giuliani to say to his police commissioner, "We're in uncharted waters now." It was the sight of the jumpers that prompted a woman to wail, "God! Save their souls! They're jumping! Oh, please God! Save their souls!" And it was, at last, the sight of the jumpers that provided the corrective to those who insisted on saying that what they were witnessing was "like a movie," for this was an ending as unimaginable as it was unbearable: Americans responding to the worst terrorist attack in the history of the world with acts of heroism, with acts of sacrifice, with acts of generosity, with acts of martyrdom, and, by terrible necessity, with one prolonged act of -- if these words can be applied to mass murder -- mass suicide.
"I spent a lot of time thinking about contemporary Christianity, and obviously the rapture kept coming up," he says. "My first impulse was ... to laugh it off — it's sort of a funny idea, people just floating away. But I kept thinking: What if it did happen? ... I thought, I'm such a skeptic that even if it did happen, I would resist the implications of it, and I also thought that three years later, everyone would have forgotten about it. No matter what horrible thing happens in the world, the culture seems to move on."
-Tom Perrotta, via NPR
I was already sold on Trombone Shorty because of his cameos in Treme, but after seeing him at Bumbershoot, I'm a fan for life. Thanks to Oliver de la Paz for hipping me to this most excellent video.
Why don't millions of high-schoolers buy Macklemore records instead of Lil' Wayne records?