Welcome to the Creative Writing Blog for Seattle University!

Hi, Everybody! I'm Sharon Cumberland, the Director of Seattle U's Creative Writing Program. I'm starting this blog so that our English majors--both CW and Lit--will know what's going on in the program--our readings, our trips to the opera, our free "Writer's Chronicles"--as well as getting information about our successful grads and their publications. This will be the place for faculty, students, alums and friends of the program to talk to each other, find out what's up,and talk about craft. Come join us!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Welcome Back, Writers! Welcome, New SU Students!

I'd like to welcome you all back to the SU Creative Writing Program as we get the new school year up and running. We have lots of opportunities for you this year--to study with great writers, to join a writing group, to curate a reading at Elliot Bay Bookstore, and to participate in the production of our literary magazine, "Fragments."


Peter Bagge is back during Fall term, teaching his course on writing the graphic novel. As many of you may know, Peter is internationally famous for his wild and crazy novels such as "Buddy Does Seattle," "Buddy Does New Jersey," and "Hate." If you take his class, you'll learn how to make stories and pictures mesh, how to analyze comics to understand their elements, and how to use those elements to tell comic stories of your own. In the process you'll learn a lot about the history of comics and the emergence of the graphic novel as a literary genre. Can't draw? No worries--you;ll learn how to use stick figures, collage, or online strip generators like Toonlet or Toondoo to illustrate your stories. Didn't get into the class this term> Again, no worries--Peter likes teaching! He likes out program! He likes you! So he'll be back.

Our Distinguished visiting writer in the Winter term is Rebecca Brown, who won The Stranger's Genius Award because of her fabulous writing. She also happens to be a fabulous teacher--we're really lucky that she could take time off from teaching in the Goddard MFA program to teach a course in Personal Memoir next term. Of her dozens of books--novels, essays, even an opera libretto!--one non-fiction book that's gotten raves is American Romances, her reflections on the great cliches of American exceptionalism. Newsday said "The essays in American Romances cover a lot of ground: listening, faith, invisibility, extreme reading, the West. They practically read themselves, that's how much fun they are." Here's a link to Charles Mudede's interview with Rebecca--read and rejoice: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=23582

E2: Emerging and Established Writers: SU Creative Writing Program at Elliot Bay Books
If you're new to Seattle you may not know that one of the best independent bookstores in the whole country is two blocks from campus. Elliot Bay Book Company brings every important writer inthe world to our doorstep, and we get to partner with them to bring students and great writers together.

This year, for the first time, i'd like to invite student to curate these readings. What does it mean to curate a reading? (Did you think only museum exhibits get curated?) It means you work with me and Karen Allman at EB to choose which writers to feature. You publicize the event. You take the money I give you and go buy refreshments. You prepare an introduction and deliver it. AND you select SU students to do a preliminary reading before the big name reader. Sound like fun? Want some glory? Email me at slc@seattleu.edu.

FRAGMENTS: A Magazine of Literary and Visual Arts
Our literary magazine is in its 55th year--a showcase for writing and visual talent, as well as the editorial talents of our English majors. Fragments comes out only once a year, and the launch extravaganza took place at Elliot Bay last year. We need editors, sub-editors, people interested in visual arts and the relationship between writing and pictures. We need people to do publicity and promotion. We need people with taste and opinions! We need you! Email me at--yes--slc@seattleu.edu. Watch for the announcement of the first meeting in October.

NCUR: National Conference of Undergraduate Research
Did you know that "research" includes creative writing? Seattle University takes between 15-20 students to NCUR every ear, but we have yet to take a creative writer. Be the first! It's an all-expense-paid trip to a national conference--in Ogden, Utah this year, from March 29th to the 31st--and a real resume builder. Plus it's lots of fun. You get experience reading your work in front of an interested audience, as well as an opportunity to meet new people, hear many interesting people present papers on fascinating topics, and see another university in a different setting from ours. If you'd like to give this opportunity a try, come to information sessions on September 30th at 3:30 in Hunthousen 100, and on October 4th at 12:30 in Pigott 108. You can also apply with an idea for a research paper. Come talk to me or Prof. Kristi Skogerboe and hear all about it!

Weekly Writing Group

The CW weekly writing group is led by novelist and adjunct prof. Michael Schilling, author of the Seattle novel "Rock Bottom" and a first class teacher. Any successful writer will tell you that the way to keep writing--no matter how much pressure you're under from school, work, life in general--is to be in a writing group. When you have other writers to report to, who care about your presence, your writing, and your ideas, you work at a higher level than you would working alone. More importantly, you WORK--you don't neglect your story or your novel. And because our group is led by a pro, you get the kind of insight and advice that will actually help you resolve the issues that bedevil you! And if you're a poet, never fear--the group is for you , too. I'll be joining Michael and the group periodically to stick my 2 cents in about the importance of metaphor, cadence, etc. to both prose and poetry. I'm also a poster child for writing groups, since the poetry group I started (as a class nine years ago) has morphed into one of the most powerful poetry writer's groups in the whole universe. We're called the Greenwood Poets and we meet for two hours a week at the Greenwood Senior Center. Practically every poem in my forthcoming collection (Black Heron Press 10/20/11) was critiqued by my group--to my huge benefit. I'm completely sold on writing groups! Get into a group at your age and you'll be a really, truly publishing writer sooner than you thought possible.

Please come see me in Casey 510 to say "Hi"--and let me persuade you to join us in one of our many activities that will support your writing as well as your social and intellectual life. WELCOME!