Download Marooned! with Matt & Bill, a new podcast by and for graduate students. It’s about graduate student life and all things academic. Features Bill Hutchison (MAPH ’12) and Matt Hauske (current MAPH preceptor). The podcast is free on iTunes – leave a review!
Disclaimer: Chris gave me permission to point out that this is “fiction.” No MAPH students were chained to the UChicago booth during AWP 2014. 2013, well, that’s in the past…
While I was sitting at booth 411 of the AWP Book Fair, smiling scribers would pass by from far-off conference center rooms, glinting with the secrets they had just learned of the craft, mumbling things like “the open ending” or “linked story collections” over and over to themselves. I would sigh, try to catch one of their eyes, and turn their attention towards our program. “Why don’t you try that open ending here, at U Chicago?” I would say. Or, “We like linked stories too.” But, really, this was my way of trying to penetrate those golden orbs of knowledge they possessed now from the panels. What was it like to attend an AWP panel, I thought? What sort of person would I be if I had attended one? Yes, something in them seemed to coronate these people who now glided through the aisles of booths, breezily calling themselves “writers.” The black iron clamp around my foot jiggled the chain that linked it to our table as I sat down and began imagining my own panels and the treasures they would hold: » Read the rest of this entry «
A five-day excursion to (surprisingly) sunny Seattle with friends and colleagues left me with a myriad of stories. Where do I begin summing up my experience at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference? From my first time in a hostel, to drinking “Unicorn Jizz” at a psychedelic Victorian bar, to witnessing first readings and being surrounded by thousands of people all in a writerly state of mind, it’s hard to pick my favorite part. So instead, I’ll focus on what impacted me the most.
The topics and discussions of women as writers. » Read the rest of this entry «
Are you a poet? Do you seek to expand your audience through readings and interviews? Well, if you’re an uncharismatic reader of your own work, don’t expect a slot at the Texas Book Festival, at least not while Steph Opitz is the Literary Director. » Read the rest of this entry «
1. Know What to Wear
I arrived at the conference about 90 minutes after getting off my flight. I’m a nervous traveler, so the t-shirt and jeans I was wearing were a bit sweaty and anxiety ridden. My jeans and shoes looked fairly presentable, but my bright blue Hound of the Baskervilles t-shirt visually alerted every one of my newbie status the moment I stepped inside the convention center. There were other people in jeans and t-shirts (and sports jerseys?), but I didn’t want to be lumped with that crowd, if you catch my drift. I wanted to be lumped with the buttoned-down men and business-casually dressed women. The other students from my program were all dressed within these categories, and I’m not at all sure how I missed the memo. When I left the conference to get lunch at Jimmy John’s (all of their sandwiches are .74¢ cheaper in Seattle!) I raided the clearance rack at a nearby Old Navy to buy a $10 button down. I even tucked it in, which is far cry from my typical untucked, half-buttoned flannel getup. I usually avoid tucking in shirts of any kind for fear of looking like a young dad about to play golf, but as I held the shirt over my body in a mirror at Old Navy I thought I looked like a young writer who was not quite professional. Yet.
2. Know If You’ll be Giving a Reading » Read the rest of this entry «
In case you missed Jessi’s excellent post on AWP on AfterMAPH, MAPH’s Alumni blog, check out some highlights of AWP 2014 below:
“Find the place that scares you most and run to it.” — Eric McMillan (MAPH ‘10) on writing and, well, life
Talking Craft: (from left) Evan Stoner (’14), Hao Guang Tse (’14), Andy Tybout (’14), Chris Robinson (’14), Joel Calahan (’05, current preceptor), Eric McMillan (’10), Hilary Dobel (’09)
Last night, while leading eight current MAPH creative writers on an uphill March from the Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center to Von Trapp’s in Capitol Hill, I was marveling (aloud, perhaps unfortunately for my companions) about what going to the AWP conference can do for an aspiring writer. We were on our way to the second-ever MAPH/UChicago Alumni offsite reading at AWP. Earlier that morning, my colleague A-J Aronstein and I had stopped by a panel featuring the poet and teacher—and reader at last year’s offsite event—Shaindel Beers(MAPH ‘00) entitled the “Art of Difficulty.” Using beautiful language, Shaindel described teaching poetry students in prisons, schools, etc. as finding a way of “giving permission.” To write, one has to believe that they have something worth saying, a voice worth hearing. To Shaindel, it is a writing teacher’s job to nurture that belief, to create a space for it to thrive.
It’s nearly impossible to believe, but you are nearing the end of Winter quarter—the hardest quarter of your MAPH year. If you are a typical MAPH student, you have three classes worth of papers coming due, your thesis is in that wonderful, horrifying stage of gestation when it refuses to come out coherently on paper despite your preceptor’s gentle and well-meaning insistence, and this Chicago winter is still actively trying to murder you.
But take heart—we in the office are here to help you get through. Next week, we have reserved Classics 110 for three mini write-ins to help you get your end-of-quarter work done. Come to Classics 110 from 9-12 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 2-5 on Friday for a quiet place to work and a
unhealthy supply of coffee. This will be a space just for MAPH students to read and write and push through the rest of this quarter in studious solidarity.
We are planning a fantastic Spring quarter for you, unimaginably far away though it may seem now. More announcements through MAPHCentral and the blog are forthcoming.
The MAPH Office
So, many of you have already been taken under the wings of thesis advisors and have begun the process of writing your thesis in earnest. This is a beautiful thing, although we in the MAPH office are suffering from a mild case of empty-nest syndrome (“Our little babies all grown up and off to contribute new knowledge to their various fields of inquiry…*SNIFF*!”).
For those of you who are not yet at this point, I say very simply: TAKE HEART! » Read the rest of this entry «
You’ve mastered survival of the polar vortex, you’re well on your way to producing a real live thesis proposal and awkward prom-date-style asking an adviser, and you’ve got a cheering squad of MAPH staff to support you as Winter Quarter kicks in.
That said, Winter Quarter can really SUCK. It’s dark, cold, and you’re being asked to do an INSANE amount of reading/papers/job stuff/general being human type things. While it’s easy to feel like you have time for absolutely nothing besides thesis and school, it is essential this quarter to stay healthy and balanced.
It can be incredibly helpful to talk to someone who is not also immersed in thesising. Looking for a way to get something off your chest, or not sure if it would be useful to talk to someone on a regular basis? Student Counseling offers a Let’s Talk program, which offers walk-in meetings with a counselor. Student Counseling also has resources for academic struggles like procrastination or developing speed-reading skills.
And as always, if you feel like you need to see another human, are looking for someone to complain with, or just want to say hi, come by the MAPH office anytime.
At this point in the year, leaving Hyde Park (or even leaving the library!) can feel like a mini-vacation. Last year I set myself the goal of getting out of Hyde Park once a week, even if it was just to study in a new place. And while it may sound silly, those trips to distant coffee shops felt INCREDIBLE. It was like I realized that there was a great big world out there that wasn’t all thinking about (and possibly criticizing) my academic work. Also, Chicago is full of awesome places – it’s so worth your time to go check them out.
Some quick recommendations from Keri for coffee (at this point last year, I was consuming on average 6 caffeinated beverages a day, so I was starting to get picky): The Bourgeouis Pig (tip: they have a limit on Wifi, so bring your reading), Filter or The Wormhole (nerdy!) in Wicker Park, and for those who can’t leave Hyde Park, Bridgeport Coffee has a location in the Hyde Park Art Center
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing, although I’m not totally sure if I have it. Regardless, staying inside all the time in the dark makes me sad, but there’s no way I’m getting outside for a jog when it’s -5 out. Luckily, there are ways to get sunshine (and a healthy dose of Mother Nature) while staying indoors:
-Garfield Park Conservatory - conveniently, MAPH is taking a trip to this lush and verdant (and free) place on 2/7
-Lincoln Park Conservatory – this slightly smaller conservatory is right next to the zoo (and is also free)
-and of course, the giant space dome / egg library that is Mansueto – less plants, more work, but very sunny regardless
4. Bring balance to the force (or to your own life)
You may have already discovered this, but it’s pretty much impossible to do all the reading for classes AND work on your thesis AND sleep AND be an actual human AND maintain friendships AND look for a job. And that is OKAY. It is more important to maintain your mental (and physical!) health than to finish all the readings. Do enough of your work to participate well in class, and then TAKE A BREAK.
While you’re at it, put a ban on guilt: set a (reasonable) to-do list, and once it’s done, allow yourself a guilt-free work-free break. Exercise, knit, spend time with friends, meditate, go to Tea & Pipes, watch TV, read a book that is actually not useful in any way toward your academic work, do whatever you need to in order to give your brain time off from school.
You got this.