Tag Archive | "creative writing program"

‘Sinking City’ Showcases Diverse Voices

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‘Sinking City’ Showcases Diverse Voices


UM News

sinkingcity

Chantel Acevedo, far left, faculty advisor for Sinking City, launched the literary magazine with students and contributors last week.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 2, 2016)—Miami’s vulnerability to climate change and sea-level rise goes far beyond infrastructure and institutions; it threatens the future of its most valuable asset—its diverse multicultural and multilingual community. Sinking City, a new online literary journal published semi-annually by students in the UM Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, is committed to showcasing diverse, multilingual voices in works that drive conversations about the environment and other relevant topics.

“It’s very important for writers to also be good literary citizens, in other words, to give back to the community that they are a part of,” says Chantel Acevedo, A.B. ’97, M.F.A. ’99, associate professor of English and faculty advisor for Sinking City. “The work that putting together a literary journal takes can represent the best of that kind of citizenship.”

Sinking City hosted a launch party on Thursday at Tinta y Café in Coral Gables, where several contributors to the inaugural issue read their work, including UM poetry professor Maureen Seaton, who read her “Sonnet for Snapper Creek.”

Sinking City accepts poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and works of art.

 

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VONA/Voices Provides a Safe Space for Writers of Color

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VONA/Voices Provides a Safe Space for Writers of Color


Annual conference at UM nurtures voices that open minds and deepen human understanding

By Meredith Camel
UM News

UM's M. Evelina Galang, front left, who helped move the two-week conference to UM last year, attends a reading with other VONA/Voices at Books & Books in Coral Gables.

UM’s M. Evelina Galang, front left, who helped move the two-week conference to UM last year, meets up with VONA/Voices students for a faculty reading at Books & Books in Coral Gables.

MIAMI, Fla.—Through all the joy, fanfare, and soul-stirring power of a VONA (Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation) literary reading, there remains a palpable pain body—one festered through experiences of exclusion as writers of color.

“In the seven layers of your skin are seven centuries of damage that brought you here,” reads author Minal Hajratwala, describing her “wound theory” to a packed theater in Miami’s Little Haiti in June during a VONA/Voices faculty reading. “What’s exhausting is to always cover up the wound.”

Faculty readings were among several free events open to the public during the two weeks that UM hosted VONA/Voices, the only multi-genre conference in the country for writers of color. M. Evelina Galang, director of the UM Creative Writing program and a long-time VONA/Voices faculty and board member, helped move the annual conference to UM from California last year.

“This year, we had a record number of applicants, so Miami, Miami, Miami!” says Diem Jones, who cofounded VONA/Voices in 1999 with fellow authors Elmaz Abinader, Junot Diaz, and Victor Diaz.

Of this year’s 520 applicants from around the world, 150 were selected for workshops in fiction, poetry, memoir, LGBTQ narrative, young adult, and more. All VONA/Voices faculty are “high profile writers committed to social justice, excellent teachers, and who mirror the population we’re trying to reach,” Abinader explains. Among this year’s 14 faculty members was poet John Murillo, a VONA/Voices student in 2003 and visiting assistant professor in the UM Creative Writing program from 2011 to 2012.

In addition to strong writing, VONA/Voices seeks students who think deeply about what it means to be a writer of color as well as those with limited options for craft development. The greatest impact of the conference, Abinader says, is having “a place to feel safe, where no one is judging them based on the stories they access.”

“It’s supportive and nurturing, it builds trust, and it digs deep into their soul,” says Jones, noting that each workshop typically goes through a full box of tissues in a week. “We tell them, ‘Don’t come if your wall is up.’ ”

 

 

 

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Lester Goran, a Bright Light That Shone on Many Writers, Dies at Age 85


Lester Goran inspired scores of writers over his 50-plus years at UM.

Lester Goran inspired scores of writers over his 50-plus years at UM.

Melissa Peerless
Special to UM News

Coral Gables, Fla. (February 7, 2014) – Lester Goran, a talented writer, inspirational teacher, and founder of the Creative Writing Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami, passed away on February 6. He was 85.

During a career at the college that spanned more than a half century, Goran helped more than 20,000 students find their voices and tell their stories.

Former students recall his use of zany phrases (such as “Throw a cat out the window!”) to inspire them to look for surprises in their work. They remember a fantastic storyteller who was quick to both praise and criticize their work, as needed. Many say that, without his guidance, they would not be writers today.

Goran joined the Arts and Sciences faculty in 1960, and helped to establish the first creative writing curriculum at UM in 1965. He was also instrumental in establishing the Master of Fine Arts program in 1991.

“Lester Goran was a writer who practiced his craft to the end,” said M. Evelina Galang, director of the Creative Writing Program. “In doing so, he was a master who, by example, lecture, and encouragement, ushered several important writers into this world—among them Terrence Cheng, Chantel Acevedo, Michelle Richmond, Paul Perry, and Crissa-Jean Chappell. He was a bright light who made the University of Miami’s Creative Writing Program what it is today.”

Throughout his long and illustrious teaching career, Goran wrote prolifically, penning eight novels, a memoir, and three short story collections. Many of his works are set in Pittsburgh, where he grew up in a tough neighborhood before earning both B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.

In a 2010 interview, Goran said he was drawn to writing to explain his life. “I couldn’t understand myself unless I partially fictionalized myself into a drama. Produced, directed, and written by myself,” he said, adding that he loved teaching and “dealing with many young people who are on the edge of self-discovery.”

“A great University is built on a strong faculty, and Lester Goran is a shining example of our excellent team in the College of Arts and Sciences,” Dean Leonidas G. Bachas said. “We are all very proud of the Creative Writing Program, which Lester started. He has enlightened our community for 50 years, and his legacy will continue to live on in our students and their writings.”

During the 2010-11 academic year, the Creative Writing Program organized the Goran Reading Series in honor of his 50 years of service. Four prominent writers who had studied with Goran offered public readings, master classes, and community workshops. The program also established the Lester Goran Endowed Creative Writing Fellowship to offer emerging writers the opportunity to create.

 

 

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Poetry with a Purpose: Readathon Aids Typhoon Relief Efforts in the Philippines

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Poetry with a Purpose: Readathon Aids Typhoon Relief Efforts in the Philippines


Rachel Berquist performs during the USpeak Readathon at the UC Rock.

Rachel Berquist performs during the USpeak Readathon at the UC Rock.

One by one, they stepped up to the microphone to read, sing or play a musical instrument. They weren’t seeking fame or fortune, but awareness—and more importantly, support—for an effort to aid the hundreds of thousands of victims of one of history’s deadliest natural disasters.

Nearly a month after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in the central Philippines, UM’s Filipino Student Association (FSA) and Creative Writing Program staged a special USpeak readathon on Thursday for typhoon relief.  Read the full story

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Honoring a Creative Half Century of Teaching

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Honoring a Creative Half Century of Teaching


From left to right: Hayes Roth ’72; Crissa-Jean Chappell ’99; Leonidas Bachas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Lester Goran; M. Evelina Galang; and Tom Cavanagh ’89.

The 50th teaching anniversary of an inspiring professor and beloved mentor was celebrated when the University of Miami Creative Writing Program honored Professor Lester Goran with “Tales from the Irish Club,” a reception held April 21 in the Newman Alumni Center.

“We honor Lester Goran and all he has done for the University of Miami, for the students who studied under him, and for the academy of letters where he has not only contributed his own books of literature, but the books of his students,” said M. Evelina Galang, director of creative writing and associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of English, where the Creative Writing Program is housed. “For every student who leaves our program, another book is in the world, another chance to explore this human condition and all its possibilities.” Read the full story

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