Thursday, February 23, 2006

small rant.

Darcey Steinke made it into town safe and sound today. OWU and BGSU shared her this year (Thank God for small favors and friendly programs).

We had a very small Q/A session today, which was extremely disappointing to me. We hire these writers to come to our school for the sake of our MFA students and hardly any of them attended the festivities. For the first half hour of the Q/A there were only four people, including myself, there. And Lawrence made five for the second half. I ended up having to ask almost ALL of the questions, and keep the conversation going -- which was really difficult to do considering I'm a poet and don't really know a lot about the craft of fiction. It's a shame too, the majority of the people at the Q/A, dinner, and reading were poetry MFAs and this was a fiction writer. In fact, Nick and myself were the only MFAs at dinner. And at the reading, there were more poets, but still... barely anyone (4 poetry MFAs including myself and Nick) and maybe three fiction writers. Darcey got on an airplane EARLY in the morning in New York to come here to read to us... and hardly anyone came.

I am ashamed of the fiction writers and honestly ... ashamed of the program as a whole today. We pay to get these writers here for the students... we could save a lot of money in visiting writers if the students aren't interested in supporting their contemporaries for at least a single hour three times a semester.

It's really ashame since the MFAs expect the same type of support at their own readings.

I shouldn't have let it bother me so much... but it's a little frustrating because I've seen it happen so frequently this year with the visiting writers. This was the worst though.

Darcey seemed to enjoy herself. She ended up being pleasant, quite humorous, and very interesting. Her reading was truly pleasurable. I purchased Suicide Blondes and can't wait to find the time to read it.

Forgive me for ranting a little about the program stuff, but being responsible for so much of the reading series this year has really got me noticing how little everyone (including certain faculty) cares about the writers that come to visit. I probably wouldn't notice as much if I weren't so close to the action. It's especially frustrating for me, I guess, because I put so much energy into this reading series... so it's a little tiresome to do and do and not see any sort of fruition... if that makes any sense. My name and face is what these writers know and associate with their experience here... so it sucks when they have a crappy time.

Anyway... I have to go grade poetry...


At 6:05 AM, Blogger garylmcdowell said...

Steph -

I'm so sorry that you are frustrated. But I think you deserve to be. I wish I could have been there last night, but it just wasn't possible. But I do agree that the fiction writers should be hungrier to spend time with a visiting fiction writer. I know that I would have have to be dying to miss a visiting poet, but there's something about fiction writers that just doesn't excite me. Looks like I'm the one that missed out though. I think I'll take all visiting writers, even fiction writers, more seriously from now on. It's unfortunate though that more of us weren't there last night. Including myself. Don't be too upset though. It's not your fault. It's ours.


At 10:34 AM, Blogger Gerald Huml said...

Your post reminded me that when I was in my MFA program it seemed that the poets were more supportive of visiting writers and readings in general than the fiction writers.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Julie said...

Hey Steph. Sorry I haven't replied to your email, and I'm really sorry I didn't make it to Darcey's reading. I honestly didn't know it was okay for out-of-genre people to come to the Q & A sessions. They really frowned upon that at OU.

I really did want to meet her because one of my favorite Spin articles of all time was written by her, and I wanted to talk to her about it. I feel so dumb for missing that opportunity, and for missing her reading...especially since I actually own Suicide Blonde and was reading it. Ugh, I feel more and more like a jerk the more I write.

I had a really bad day on Thursday and was getting hysterical about my teaching all weekend. I seriously worked on lessons for five hours just on Thursday night.

I'm really sorry that the readings haven't been well-attended, and I really apologize for not doing my part for the visiting fiction writers. I did a job somewhat similar to yours when I was at OU and it was like pulling teeth just to get the creative writers to come to see people in their own genres, let alone faculty. I used to offer extra credit to my comp students just so I could help fill the seats at the readings.

I don't know what to do to solve this problem, other than to have a meeting with the MFAs. Or offer free food. :) When we get together, maybe we can talk about it!


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