I interviewed Professor Jessica Hautsch for Stony Brook’s PWR blog. Hautsch, a writing professor, studied kinesthetic learning and considered how performance and creative work could help her students with one of the slipperiest tasks a writing professor faces: teaching grammar. Check it out: the end-result ranges from talk of teaching to student anxiety to Garrison Keillor to Abbott and Costello. There’s even talk of strangling a kitten.*
*Note: no kittens were harmed in the making of this blog.
This week for the Stony Brook writing program’s blog, I interviewed Shreeya Tuladhar, a biology major minoring in writing and anthropology. Tuladhar was a child model in Nepal, an experience that began a lifetime of struggling with body image issues and one exacerbated by her family later moving to New York City; she skipped a grade and was the smallest student in her classes, something other classmates bullied and abused her about. She had so many thoughts she didn’t feel she could express, so she wrote about them. She kept a diary. She posted poems to hi5. As her studies continued she wrote and read more and more, and in college a class project gave her an opening to create a written document and a digital film that talked about her experiences and invited her audience to share their own insecurities and literally re-frame them as part of what makes them beautiful. And so “Project BEaUtiful” was born. Check out my interview with Tuladhar and her video below.
On Fridays at work from 12-1 and 1-2 the student-run organization I helped found last year meets. I’ve written about Foreign And Native Speakers (FANS) before; in sum, students come together to talk, sometimes in groups as large as 25 and sometimes split into smaller groups of 4-5. There are students from all over the world, representing multiple fluency levels and cultures/languages — the United States, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, Japan, China, South Korea, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, and more.
Today’s the last day before spring break, so a lot of students are already out of town. But still, even on a Friday, even for an extracurricular activity most of them attend strictly because of personal desire, we had both meetings today. And even after the last meeting ended, three students stayed after for over an hour while we talked about the similarities and differences in the cultural vagaries and linguistic wowsers between Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Russian, English, and Spanish, as well as what distinguishes modern Chinese written characters from traditional ones, how the Chinese characters influence other Asian languages, and what separates American dialects from one another. For example Continue reading
Maybe more than you think.
MaryAnn Duffy has written a wondrously eye-opening piece about the parallels between fractal geometry in nature and the structure and evolution of grammar and language. Long story short: the same patterns and principles that explain why a coastline or a cauliflower or a conifer take the form they do also explains why your kids won’t get the same crap from teachers you did for ending a sentence with a preposition.
It’s fascinating to consider. In nature, fractals reveal an underlying relationship between the part (a tree) and the whole (a forest). If grammar follows this same function…what might the whole it relates to be?
My short story “The Silence Of Elicled” is in the latest issue of Carrier Pigeon magazine. The artwork in Carrier Pigeon is always gorgeous. I was lucky enough to have my story accompanied by the work of Orin Stuckenbruck. Not only is Orin Stuckenbruck an awesome name–Orin Stuckenbruck is a sick artist. You can see paintings and drawings by him here on his website. This image, titled “Elicled–The Sultan’s Palace,” is one of Orin’s illustrations of “The Silence of Elicled.”
Seeing a story you made up in your head illustrated by a talented artist and converted into reality is super super sweet.
We all have works on display at the Museum of Modern Art!
Didn’t have to cut my ear off or get shot, either.
My most controversial story (so far), “Black Jesus,” in Carrier Pigeon magazine (volume 3/issue 3) is now on sale at MoMA PS1. Vinnie and Andy’s works can’t be taken home from the museum, whereas mine can; thus, my art, being more portable than theirs, is also more modern. Also, they’re dead. Now that’s a win-win for me!
Three clips covering about 75 years: each is funny, each uses wordplay & the vagaries of semantics to be funny. In the short story “Pierre Menard, Author Of The Quixote,” Jorge Luis Borges wrote about what he called “the plebeian pleasure of anachronism…the elementary idea that all epochs are the same or are different.” Do you think these clips, while all related in some ways, illustrate differences about the lives and times they were created in/for? Do they show us the more things change, the more they stay the same? Are they just people being funny?
Earlier this year I reviewed Susan Scarf Merrell’s new novel Shirley. Confirming my credential as a connoisseur of cool, Shirley is receiving great reviews everywhere.
But I know what you’re thinking. It’s 2014. iPads, iPods, Androids, Tinder, Tumblr…it’s not enough. I need multisensory, multidimensional stimuli. I need something more from my literature than literature.
Well holy Singularity, Batman! Over at LargeHeartedBoy.com, authors like (and including) Aimee Bender, Bret Easton Ellis, and Hari Kunzru create playlists that connect to their recent published works and break down the relationship between the musics and the manuscript. The most recent guest is Merrell herself. Check out her eclectic playlist and analysis. You can even listen to the playlist on Spotify. Singularity indeed.
It’s 3:13 TIME in the morning and I can’t sleep. Haven’t been able to all week.
Some Israeli science wizards did a study that found sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep are both detrimental to one’s cognition. I’m not sure who’d find this newsworthy. If you’re getting solid sleep, your cognition’s unimpaired, so this finding’s about as revelatory as a study on how eating week-old sushi left out in the sun can suck; if, like me, you aren’t getting sleep, then you’re already aware of the negative side effects and don’t need some Tel Aviv wise-asses to clue you in. Continue reading
“In ancient Phrygia, in a temple in Telmissus, there was a great wonder: the reins of a cart, twisted by the dead king Gordius, into a knot that nobody could untie. The reins were made of Cornel bark, which had shrunk and compacted over the years. And they were tied in what’s called a Turkish knot, with no visible ends. Hundreds of men had tried and failed to loosen it.”
I’ve been working on a new short story. A guy gets a friend request from his ex and has to decide whether to accept it or reject it. The story alternates between flashbacks to different eras in their relationship—the halcyon early months, the helpless hurt of the last weeks, the vertiginous in-between—and the present-day moment of decision. Beneath a starry night sky, the protagonist balances what once seemed to matter against what’s left of what was, and tries to understand: if matter is neither created nor destroyed, then what is left after love and hate run their course? In their most basic state, stripped of all our ornamentation, what survives? Continue reading