SJU Writing Studies Author Showcase – Save the date!

The SJU Writing Studies graduate program has assembled some impressive talent for an Author’s Showcase, to be held on October 13 at 7 p.m. in Mandeville Hall, Room 313.  Alums and current students will present some of their work.  This event is brought to you by their literary magazine The Avenue.  Come and enjoy this special evening with us!

Writers Showcase Flyer (final)

 

A big thank you to Dan Rousseau and Don Philbrick for making the showcase happen.

SJU Alum Thomas Dooley Talks Poetry, Projects & Lessons Learned with John Rafferty

This interview was conducted by SJU Writing Studies student John Rafferty.

 

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St. Joseph’s University alumnus, Thomas Dooley’s poetry collection, Trespass, has been named a 2013 National Poetry Series selection. I spoke with him about his many endeavors and the tremendous success he’s enjoying with his poetry.

Trespass is garnering incredible reviews. What was the writing process like?

The writing process for Trespass was, for the most part, enervating. I approached the creation of Trespass as if walking into a dark house and flicking on the light switches; I lifted blinds, opened closet doors, took dust covers off furniture. I tried to look at this family narrative from every angle possible, so when I felt stuck I would ask, “what door have I not opened yet?” When I felt brave enough to look, I could see a new poem take shape.

I was fortunate to have an incredible group of poets around me who offered encouragement and advice for Trespass. I had an excellent editor at HarperCollins who provided some very incisive ideas for edits. A talented watercolorist created the book cover. The process from first poem to published book requires incredible focus and discretion, so I am thankful for the generosity of so many artists.

You’ve brought poetry to the stage with your theatre project, Emotive Fruition. Where did that idea originate?

I founded Emotive Fruition because I wanted to find a new way for audiences to encounter poetry. I bring together two artistic communities that do not often collaborate: actors and poets. Once I have gone through submissions and curated an evening of poetry, I cast professional actors from television, film, and Broadway to perform these poems on stage.

Our process is fueled by collaboration. Actors and poets meet during a rehearsal and work together to make the poems shine on stage. Emotive Fruition has garnered an incredible following and we look forward to new collaborations. In May, we will be hosting an event with NPR’s hit show RadioLab. We are working with universities and MFA programs, such as NYU, to cultivate and foster community and collaboration among student writers and actors. For me, Emotive Fruition has become a place where poetry can live and flourish; it is very much a vibrant and unique addition to the art and culture of New York. I hope to expand it to Philadelphia and beyond!

You are also involved in narrative medicine, something I was until now unfamiliar with.  Can you explain it to those who might be aware of it?

Narrative medicine is the practice of honoring and being attentive to a patient’s story. For the past five years, I have been facilitating creative writing sessions at the bedsides of hospitalized teenagers. I created the literary journal SURGE, which publishes the writing and art from my patients. I also provide creative writing wellness retreats for physicians, mental health professionals, and hospital staff. We all need the therapeutic process of writing to shape and organize our thoughts and feelings.

Between your writing, theatre project, and narrative medicine work, how do you balance it all? 

Balance is hard. There is always renegotiation. At the moment, I am a freelancing artist so I create new work while trying to piece together an income.

I try to stay very present to the demands of my writing projects. I have been busy working on a new manuscript, a verse novella of sorts, entitled Hang Down Your Head. It’s near completion and I am in the process of getting it published. My writing, publishing, and collaborations truly fuel and feed me.

I just accepted an offer to teach creative writing at New York University in 2016. I love mentoring young writers; they infuse the workshop with a sense of discovery. I’m also interested in shaking up the creative writing workshop. I would be interested to craft a workshop that included collaboration among students, writing about illness, performance studies – so many possibilities!

What was the greatest lesson you learned as English major while at St. Joe’s?

I learned some powerful lessons about myself. Dr. April Lindner gave me confidence to be a poet. In her creative writing workshop, I felt like I had potential to write and publish poetry. It also was the first writing workshop I ever attended. Dr. Lindner modeled for me how to discuss and critique student work. To this day, I try to channel her when I teach.

Dr. Owen Gilman created a space in his class for me to find my voice. I remember presenting a paper about my personal history to the class. That paper was a prelude to a lifetime of embracing my own personal narrative and writing about it. I am proud of my time at SJU and love coming back to talk with students. I look forward to the next time I’m on campus.

You can stay up to date with all of Thomas’ work and happenings at his website, http://www.thomasdooley.us/, including his newest work, Hang Down Your Head.

How To Find Your Writing Niche – English Alum and Writing Studies Student Vanessa Constantinidis Tells You How

Find Your Writing Niche

Vanessa

Vanessa Constantinidis

During senior year of my undergraduate career at Saint Joseph’s University, I enrolled in Dr. Lindner’s “Young Adult Novel” course not knowing what an immense impact it would make, not only on my writing career, but my life as a whole. Dr. Lindner told us to pick a topic that we would not get sick of, for we would be writing the start of our own young adult novel all semester. I decided to write about the story I have always dreamed of writing: the one of the Greek girl trying to find her place in the modern American world (I swear it is fiction). The course consisted of reading several current young adult novels, presenting on a young adult novel similar to the one we were writing, workshopping our own novels while providing helpful feedback to our classmates, and producing a final portfolio of about 50 polished pages to the start of our novel. To no surprise, my story turned out drastically different than I could have imagined, but everything I hoped it would be at nine chapters. I was more intrigued by young adult literature than ever before and found myself reading more and more YA books in my spare time, and of course continuing to write.

After my Young Adult Novel course had ended, “Greek Girl Crazy” was a story I could not even think of abandoning. Upon graduating from SJU I moved to Arlington, VA for work, where my free time consisted of continuously working on my young adult novel that ultimately contained a part of my soul. I was not just working on a novel; I was a writer. Every day I would find myself thinking how I could develop my characters more and what plot twist I could add to make my novel more enticing. I would find myself laughing and relating everyday events in my life to something that would happen to my main character, Despina. Whenever I would need inspiration, I would recall writing exercises that my professors implemented during our lessons and also observe my surroundings. My “me time” consisted of finding a new location to write (whether it was Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, or unique places to Arlington such as Busboys and Poets or Northside Social) and fully immersing myself into Despina’s world. I had grown to really adore Despina and while she was a fictional character, I continued to bring her to life through my words. I ended my last semester of college having nine chapters of my young adult novel written and found myself with twenty-one chapters written a year later, moving into a sequel.

While it was apparent that I found my niche in young adult literature, I yearned to be back in the classroom and have the ability to workshop the rest of my novel with writers who would critique me. After a move back to Philly to work in higher education, I had the opportunity to embark on my graduate school journey at Saint Joseph’s University through the Writing Studies program. Fatefully enough, the graduate version of Young Adult Novel was being offered. Now, I am currently enrolled in the course and in the midst of working on the sequel to my novel, which is roughly twenty-five chapters (with word count). I have been blessed to have Dr. Lindner critique my work, along with my classmates, and further explore fiction writing, specifically young adult literature.

Writing has become more than a mindset, but rather a lifestyle to me. Everywhere I go and everything I see could serve as some sort of inspiration, which is why I love young adult literature so much. While it is fiction, it is relatable- at all ages. Katherine Prokou writes in her article Young Adult Literature: Rite of Passage or Rite of Its Own in the Alan Review, “It’s literature for teenagers; it’s literature about teenagers; it’s stylistic and simplified literature; it’s overly didactic, and of course, shorter than a real novel,” but she continues to explain how it is so much more than just that, and I would agree. Young adult literature may be aimed at teenagers and adolescents, but writing and reading young adult literature can be directly applied to life, even beyond the teenage years. It is emotional and passionate, while still being light. Many critics of young adult literature would argue that it is an escape from reality, but in fact, it is a dive into reality. While often shorter and written with simpler vocabulary, it still deals with real and complicated concepts of love, heartbreak, family struggles, mental health, friendship, sexuality, and identity, yet still holds a sense of innocence and nostalgia that only young adult literature can truly capture.

Whether it is young adult literature, travel writing, script-writing, journalism, or even rhetoric that allows you to question your purpose of writing, the important thing is to find out what sort of writing makes you get out of bed in the morning. As Ray Bradbury says, “You have to get up in the morning and write something you live, something to live for.” The best part of the Saint Joseph’s University Writing Studies program, along with phenomenal professors and specialized attention, is that it will guide you to find your niche. This program allows you to question who you are as writer and who you want to be. After thirty credits, you will have more than just a degree in Writing; you will have vision of how to be the best writer you can be and you will find what kind of writing makes you tick. I have been so blessed to find a part of literature that I cannot get enough of and I have Saint Joseph’s University’s English/Writing department to thank for it.

Thanks so much for your contribution, Vanessa!  If anybody out there has something to share, let me know.  We want to hear from you!

Support the SJU Writing Series – Dr. April Lindner Reads From Her New Book LOVE, Lucy

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The very talented Dr. April Lindner, Professor of English here at SJU, will read from her new novel LOVE, Lucy on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 during Free Period at the Library.  Read on for a brief description of the book, as well as the terrific reviews the book has received.

 

 

 

 

 

I could just disappear–lose myself in Florence.

The thought gave Lucy a delicious little shiver.

She could go anywhere, pick a new name for herself, become a whole new person.

She could learn Italian, apply for a job in a cafe, and never go home again.

I could be whoever I want to be.

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician.  After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.”  But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse are over too.

In this coming of age romance, due out in January 2015, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

 Reviews

“April Lindner brings on the feels with her usual charm. Love, Lucy is another romantic winner from this amazingly talented writer.”—Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries and the Heather Wells mystery series

Love, Lucy hits all the right notes…This is a great coming-of-age story, perfect for Sarah Dessen fans or those who enjoy books with a summer romance.”—VOYA (starred review)

“A contemporary romance with surprising depth in its coming-of-age elements, this modern update of E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Lindner’s reimagined classics.”—SLJ

“This intelligent love story will resonate with readers who are themselves balancing the thin line between making lives of their own and seeking parents’ approval. A good read-alike recommendation for fans of Jennifer E. Smith or Stephanie Perkins.”—Booklist

A Writing Series Event – Don’t Miss It!

Books that Cook

 

 

 A great literary event featuring three of our esteemed English professors! Come with an appetite!

Join us THURSDAY FEBRUARY 5th at 6:30pm in the Forum Theater (Campion Student Center) for a reading to satisfy all appetites: BOOKS THAT COOK: The Making of a Literary Meal, featuring readings from SJU’s own Dr. Melissa Goldthwaite, Dr. April Lindner, and Tenaya Darlington. Our SJU cast will be joined by Howard Dinin and Dr. Goldthwaite’s co-editor, Jennifer Cognard-Black. The event is free and open to the public, and copies of the book will be available for purchase. See you there!

 

Originally posted on Facebook by Dr. Paul Patterson.

English Professor Dr. Jason Powell Receives NEH Fellowship

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This article originally appeared in SJU Today News, written by Katie Smith (’15).

PHILADELPHIA (December 17, 2014) — Jason Powell, D.Phil., associate professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, has received a $50,400 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to complete the second of a two-volume project on the poetry and prose of Sir Thomas Wyatt. With this award, Powell plans to take a sabbatical during the 2015-16 academic year to focus on Wyatt’s poetry.

Powell received an NEH Fellowship of the same amount in 2008, which allowed him to complete the first volume of the two-part work. Oxford University Press will publish the first volume of The Complete Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, which features Wyatt’s prose, late next year.

“This is a big project,” says Powell, who also co-directs SJU’s Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation Studies program. “The first volume is over 253,000 words. These big editions often will be split between different editors, but the NEH grants have allowed me the time to do the work myself. This way, one person can see the whole picture.”

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1504-1542) was an English poet, courtier and diplomat during the reign of King Henry VIII. He is generally credited with writing the first sonnet in English. He also published the first translation of Plutarch’s classical moral essay “The Quiet of Mind,” in English, and introduced a number of new verse forms into English poetry.

Powell’s research on Wyatt, continued through more than 15 years, has informed his classes at SJU. “I teach ‘Henry VIII in Life and Legend,’ an English course that includes poetry by Wyatt and his contemporaries, each with sharply differing accounts of the controversial figures at Henry’s court,” says Powell. “It’s one of the most enjoyable courses I teach.”

An independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research in history, literature and philosophy and funds proposals from around the nation.

Dr. April Lindner Book Signing

 

 

April Lindner

April Lindner

Come to the SJU Bookstore during free period November 11 to get your paperback copy of Catherine signed by the author, Dr. April Lindner, SJU Professor of English.

Read what they are saying about her fantastic book:

 

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“Give this book to readers of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Simone Elkeles and be prepared for many discussions with readers who want the story to continue past the final pages.”

Library Media Connection, starred review

“Dramatic events touched by love, loss and longing have all the juicy elements readers will appreciate,” says Booklist. Linder’s captivating adaptation is Wuthering Heights as you’ve never seen it before.

 

Don’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Love to be Scared

Paul Patterson

(Photo Courtesy of Melissa Kelly)

Paul Patterson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English

Check out his Viewpoint piece in the Fall 2014 SJU Magazine.  As a devoted fan of The Walking Dead, I have to agree that most of us enjoy a little thrill from time to time, especially when viewed from the safe and comfortable perspective provided by our living room couch.

Kudos to Dan Reimold and the Hawk Staff!

Hawk NewsACP

Congratulations to Dan and the Hawk staff for being named a Pacemaker (newspaper of the year!) finalist in the prestigious Associated Collegiate Press competition.  Dawn Cai was also named a finalist in the Design of the Year category.   The winners will be announced at the National College Media Convention, which will be held in Philadelphia at the end of the month.

In the journalism world, these honors are huge—great for the Hawk, for the English department, and for St. Joe’s!