Goodness Gracious

Like every month, our next meeting has kind of sneaked up on me! That meeting will be on Tuesday, 08 October 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in the Carl-Schurz-Haus Library and will be structured, more likely than not, in the same way our meetings are usually structured: We will begin with a writing prompt; we will write for 20 or so minutes with that prompt in mind; we will then discuss the prompt itself, our reactions to it (both internally and on paper), and maybe someone will feel like sharing. There will then be time to talk about any other writerly concerns you may have.

As always, everyone is welcome, regardless of mother tongue, age, gender, linguistic acumen, etc. We aim to provide a safe space for writing and writers.

 

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about:

I have been reading Lucy Ellmann’s latest book, Ducks, Newburyport, the 1000-page, inner-monologue of a middle-aged woman from Ohio. Because that monologue is “stream of consciousness,” the novel isn’t divided into neat sentences, but rather uses the sentence fragment as well as a great deal of word association to get where it’s going. I am enjoying it very much.

I purchased the book without any previous knowledge of it. Simply found it on a shelf and thought, I’ll buy that. Since I started reading, I’ve done a little research on it and found that the Kirkus Reviews review called it, “Literary experimentation that, while surely innovative, could have made its point in a quarter the space.”

Now, I know that Kirkus reviews contain no byline, which means that any two reviews could be by any two different people; however, every publication of its nature will have (or should have) an editorial vision, and hopefully a coherent one.

So I decided to look up the Kirkus review for the final volume of Karl Ove Knausgard‘s magnum opus My Struggle, a nearly 3,500 page examination of the minutiae in Knausgard’s own life. And I find it tremendously interesting that the Kirkus review for that book, a starred review by the way, ends with this sentence: “A fittingly bulky end to a radical feat of oversharing.”

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Summer Reading!

One week from today, on 16 July 2019 @ 19:00 in the beautiful courtyard of Café POW, the Freiburg Writers’ Group will present its Summer Reading!

Come one, come all to hear the dulcet strains of our voices reading freshly-baked works of prose and poetry!

Enjoy a cool beverage and a tasty snack!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Ekphrasis

Last night, we talked about ekphrasis.

Then we looked at this painting:

Bruegel,_Pieter_de_Oude_-_De_val_van_icarus_-_hi_res

And then I read William Carlos Williams’ ekphrastic response to the above (from a book available in the CSH library):

II. Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
near

the edge of the sea
concerned
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings’ wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

After which, I asked the group to go out into the hall, find a photograph in the Carl-Schurz-Haus’ current exhibition of photographs by Erich Hartmann which spoke to them, and spend several minutes writing in response. I asked the group to consider several possibilities:

  • what story is the photograph trying to tell?
  • what thoughts does the photograph elicit?
  • what emotions does the photograph evoke?
  • how does the photograph work as an abstract composition?

After writing, we talked about which photographs we had each chosen, and how we had responded.

I responded to the following photograph, Billboard, USA; 1976:

hartmann_billboard

I was waiting to close my mouth, but the noise would not stop. Too much air. Lungs never deflating. The clock ticking. The birds chittering. The grass swaying in the artificial gloaming as my mouth refuses to close, waiting, waiting for a message.

The year is 1976, Ford is in the White House, overseeing (if you will) the Bicentennial celebrations, the words “long national nightmare” having, relatively, just left his lips, and I’m trying to exhale something.

A rectangular hole in the landscape, maybe all teeth, definitely a pall. Electricity being taken to the neighbors seven miles away who can hear me but think it’s the wind, though the grass is only swaying in some silent breeze. Maybe one of the higher gales. The atmosphere being made of several layers: cirrus, stratus, cumulus.

Years ago, I wanted to be able to inhale indefinitely, and now I have its opposite. This despite the fact that I was only two years old in 1976. Even then, we required a new Declaration of Independence and this rush of white, here at the beginning of a longer national nightmare starring first a man who once took second billing to a chimpanzee, seems to fit the bill.

I’m beginning to lose sight of the grass, the fence posts, the electrical wire. The meadowlarks have perhaps gone to bed, are perhaps not yet awake.

This is not a Münchean scream. This is what happens every night after the National Anthem has played. The sound of a nation begging for more input, more meaning. Or no meaning at all. We’ve grown tired of it.

The dirt track running by me is hardly used, so why here? Is there something necessary about this isolation? But fuzz is just fuzz no matter where it’s loosed. Eight vertical lines. Two periods and a comma. If I don’t inhale soon, I may crumple into one of those periods, become a black hole, wink out of existence. But I don’t feel like stopping. Must cast my pall over this landscape. Remind this crepuscular world that, even in its seeming barrenness, it is too much and could use some erasure.

Finally, I asked those in attendance to revise, type up, and send their ekphrastic writing to me so that I could make a little pamphlet out of it and put it in the CSH Guest Book. If you would like to participate, please come by the CSH, pick a photo, spend some time with it, write a response to it, and send me that response before the 10th of July!

Next Meeting: 16 April 2019

Dear Writers!

Our next meeting is approaching quickly and will take place on Tuesday, 16 April 2019 at 19:00 in the CSH Library.

We will spend some time writing and then discussing the writing process. We might also spend some time talking about how to get published.

As usual, your ideas and input are greatly appreciated, and if there’s something you’d like to discuss, please let me know in advance or simply bring it with you! We’re flexible enough to accommodate almost anything.

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Sci-Fi Workshop!

Friends! Have a gander at this upcoming workshop with the writer Holly-Jane Rahlens:

Di, 12.03.2019, 15-17 UHR

WORKSHOP FOR TEACHERS, Students & Writers
Creative Writing & Science Fiction
Holly-Jane Rahlens, Berlin

Konferenzraum des Carl-Schurz-Hauses, Eisenbahnstr. 62, 3. Etage

 The importance of creative writing in teaching English to school students is currently expanding vastly. Our workshop shows how science fiction, often still regarded as a niche genre in literature, is actually a perfect medium for developing your students’ writing potential: World-building, critical to the effectiveness of stories about imagined tomorrows, is an essential tool in mastering creative writing as a practical art form. Holly-Jane Rahlens, a born New Yorker, has been working in radio, television, and film and also writing fiction for readers of all ages. In 2003, her first novel for teens, Prince William, Maximilian Minsky and Me, earned the prestigious Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis as the best young adult novel published in Germany.
Eintritt: € 10 / 8 (CSH-Mitglieder)
Anmeldung bis 5. März: schroeder@carl-schurz-haus.de
Veranstaltungssprache: Englisch

Don’t forget our next meeting! 12 February 2019!

Hey Freiburg Writers,

Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday, 12 February 2019 at 19:00 in the Carl-Schurz-Haus library! We will spend some time writing, talking about the problems that arise from that writing, and discussing other writerly issues. This time, I may or may not make disparaging comments about an entire generation!

As always, we look forward to seeing you there!