Thursday, October 21, 2010

"And can you get a job with that writing stuff you do?"

Show the skeptics that good writing skills make the world go 'round. Or at least can help your employment prospects. Consider doing an internship next semester for course credit!

If you're interested, come to an information meeting for English 380 (the internship course) on Tuesday, October 26, at 10:30 a.m. in the English Department Conference Room.

Students in English 380 work at a variety of placements, from magazines and newspapers to publishing houses, from non-profit organizations to public relations firms. Prof. Hettinga is the supervising prof.

Join us for a snack and find out what you need to do to get an internship.

Please note that students wishing to take English 380 must fill out an application before registering for the course.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Writers Read Event: Your Chance to Shine

At last! The English Department has scheduled the first reading event of the year for Tuesday, November 2, at 3:30. Calvin Writers Read is our once-a-semester opportunity to perform your very own work for a sympathetic audience. Usually a few English professors read from their work, and then a gaggle of brave student writers read their own poems, stories, or essays.

This time, we will be reading and listening and applauding in the brand new art gallery. Hmmmm. What sort of creative writing would compliment the paintings of Bruegel? Well, never mind. We'll enjoy anything of yours that you would like to offer to an audience.

Sign up to read in the English Department. And even if you don't wish to read yourself, come hear others.
Oh yes, there will definitely be goodies.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New FAC Opens at Last: Writers Celebrate

Known from now on as the C FAC, for "Covenant Fine Arts Center," the new home of the English department opens this week after a long exile for English faculty and all our majors and minors.

A formal, public dedication ceremony for the entire CFAC will take place at 4:30 on Wednesday, October 20. But the English Department will hold its own celebratory lecture and reading the next day, Thursday, October 21, at 3:30, in the brand new recital hall.

Please join us, enjoy the moment, and imagine how many wonderful events we will host in this gorgeous new venue.

To inaugurate the recital hall, several Calvin writers will read from their work. Celebrating the work of Calvin writers past and present will be Prof. Lew Klatt, current student Andrew Steiner, 2010 graduate Laura Bardolph, and professor emeritus Tom Harper.

Then we'll hear from our featured speaker, Walter Wangerin, Jr., National Book Award winner and prolific writer of fiction, nonfiction, children's books, and more. Wangerin is a Lutheran pastor, professor, and former Festival of Faith and Writing speaker as well.

Following the event, we'll get to be among the first to spill cookie crumbs in the new lobby. In fact, people who come to the reception might be able to consume enough cookies to keep them going right into the next event, the opening of the new art gallery at 7 p.m.

Come celebrate the new home of current and future Calvin writers!

(By the way, the English Department is not actually moving into their new offices for several weeks yet. We'll have to celebrate that when the time comes...)

English 245 Students Write Up 2011 Interims

Prof. Hettinga's English 245 Basic Journalism class has created a resource meant to be useful to the Calvin community. Their "Interim News" blog offers expanded descriptions of interim offerings for 2011. After all, those little course descriptions don't tell us everything.

Check out the blog for short articles on both on-campus and off-campus offerings about evolution, revolution, adventure, and more.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dialogue Accepting Submissions

Dialogue, our campus literary journal, is now accepting submissions for the next issue. Anyone in the Calvin community--students, faculty, staff--is welcome to submit material.

Dialogue usually has plenty of poetry and visual art to choose from, so how about turning in an essay, review, or commentary?

The current submissions window is open through October 6. Send submissions to Visual art that has not been scanned can be dropped off at the Dialogue office or SC 102.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ArtPrize Artist Sheila Wyne on Campus

Get involved with ArtPrize! We are lucky to have artist Sheila Wyne visiting our campus next week for several events. Sheila is a visual artist based in Anchorage, Alaska. Her studio work has been widely shown, and since 1990 she has designed and installed over 20 public commissions. She is also a successful set designer. Wyne has won a Rasmuson Artist Fellowship, a Boochever Fellowship, the Alex Combs Artist Award, and grants from Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Andy Warhol and Rockefeller Foundations. In 2009, Wyne received the Governor’s Award for Individual Artist.

Here are the events. For writers, the third one is especially promising.

At Second Sight: An Artist’s Look at the World
Wednesday, Sept 22
3:30 p.m.
Meeter Center Lecture Hall

This talk—on the opening day of ArtPrize—focuses on how art, especially when conceived of as visual metaphor, can be a valuable tool for critical thinking. How can we combat visual clich├ęs that reduce or dumb down our discourse and instead argue for a robust “visual linguistics”? And how can we use the discipline of observation to develop a visual empathy that might increase our ability to think and respond? Whether you’re an art expert or novice, this talk should help you more fully engage in--as well as enjoy--ArtPrize this year.

A Long Walk Off a Short Pier: Challenges of Art, Urban Planning, and the Environment
Tuesday, Sept 28
3:30 p.m.
Rm 078 North Hall

Wyne has successfully completed twenty public commissions, and as such, she has a unique perspective on the ways art intersects with issues of both urban planning and environmental issues.

Living Well on a Shoestring: Surviving—and Thriving—as an Artist
Wednesday, Sept 29
3:30 p.m.
Meeter Center Lecture Hall

This highly interactive session focuses on the “nuts and bolts” of being an artist after graduation: setting deadlines, building community, applying for grants, balancing art and a day job, etc. Great for all creative people interested in making their art a career.

Monday, September 6, 2010

We Knew She Had an Evil Plan

May 2010 graduate Alexis Royce has been scheming since her senior year in high school, writing and drawing the story of the evil Dr. Kinesis. And now, at last, Lexi’s plan for world conquest is succeeding!

Or at least her plan for publication. Lexi, an art major/English minor at Calvin, and her cousin/collaborator, Megan Johnston, just announced the print publication of Evil Plan, Volume 1, through the online publisher Comixpress.

From the publisher’s catalog copy: “Evil Plan is a manga styled comic that takes the superhero world and flips it, viewing things from the supervillain's perspective. The story follows Dr. Kinesis's journey on the road to world conquest. Filled with humor, romance, and perhaps the slightest slice of angst, Evil Plan is a comic for all those people who want to see the bad guy win. If he doesn't blow himself up first.”

Lexi says she and Megan are “intensely proud” of this milestone for their work. “It's been a headache and a joy working on it,” Lexi writes, “but right now, all I can feel is the joy, and I assure you that's a copious amount of joy.”

Evil Plan continues to be available in its entirety for free viewing online at the webcomic hosting site However, Comixpress now offers a print version with a number of extra features, including an extra story, bonus art, and author bio features. “You’d be surprised how many people will pick up a print version even if a comic is available online,” says Lexi. “Print is a different way to experience it.”

Smack Jeeves is an online comics community featuring about 20,000 comics written and drawn by people at a range of levels, from just starting out to professional. Site members discuss and promote their favorites, so writers can build an audience as they work.

The site just held its first awards, based on reader voting. Evil Plan was nominated for two: Best Sci-fi and Best Characters. It took the Best Sci-fi award, further boosting Lexi and Megan’s fan base.

Are more volumes on their way?

“We have the whole story planned out,” Lexi says. “There are definitely more volumes coming.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

Not So Many Cheers for Volunteers

"When selling raffle tickets in exchange for a ticket to Disney can be called 'helping others,' it's no wonder ninety-eight percent of society does it," writes Jen Erickson. Jen's essay, "Loving My Neighbor: What's in it For Me?", was just published in the Burnside Writers Collective online magazine.

Jen, a senior Secondary Ed/Spanish major with English minor, wrote the essay for her Creative Nonfiction class last semester. The essay was her response to the "social critique" assignment, and it examines the desire, in herself and others, to get credit for volunteering but to keep our lives untouched by the people we help and the tough situations we encounter in volunteering contexts.

Jen submitted the essay for publication as part of the class's final assignment. Just a month later, she got a reply.

"The editor was really nice," says Jen. "She sent me an email back detailing the things she liked about the essay and her suggestions for things I should change if I wanted to resubmit it. I was so impressed with how much feedback I got!"

Burnside Writers Collective is "an online magazine for Christians looking for a connection with the world outside of franchise Christianity."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

CWR Website Updated

Our very own website, specifically designed to help Calvin student writers publish their creative work, has just been updated with even more publication venue ideas. Calvin Writers Recommend was designed in 2009 by a student Alissa Goudswaard in order to help Calvin student writers. Thanks to Prof. Rienstra's spring 2010 Creative Nonfiction class for researching 17 new publication venues, and thanks to Jake Schepers for doing the keystroking to get the site updated.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Professor Klatt Wins the Iowa Poetry Prize

"Are you L. S. Klatt?"
"Uh, yes..."
"Did you write Cloud of Ink?"
"Uhhhhh, yes..."
"Well, I'm pleased to inform you ..."

If you see Prof. Klatt anytime soon, you might wonder why he is grinning so widely. The reason is that he has just won the Iowa Poetry Prize, one of the nation's most prestigious prizes for poets.

Prof. Klatt's manuscript, entitled Cloud of Ink, was chosen as one of two winners for this year's prize. The volume will be published by the University of Iowa Press in spring of 2011.

Klatt received a message on his voice mail at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night from the director of the press.

"That seemed strange to me," says Klatt. "I thought maybe she needed more copies of the manuscript or something." Klatt called her back--the director was on vacation at the Grand Canyon, and had just heard from the judge. She had wanted to call the winners right away.

Klatt says his family caught on to the good news before he did. "My wife and mom and brother all happened to be with me when I was on the phone. My wife was jumping up and down, but I couldn't believe it. The director gave me all sorts of details, but after I hung up I didn't remember anything she said."

Klatt did not expect to win this prize, especially so close on the heels of the Juniper Prize he won in 2008. That prize, for his first poetry volume, Interloper, came at the end of a very long road.

"I think I submitted that manuscript to publishers and competitions at least 50 times. It was a finalist at least 8 times before finally winning. And all the while I continued to revise it."

Cloud of Ink came together much more quickly, says Klatt, at least partly because of the foundation laid by that first volume.

"Having the experience of putting together a volume with a publisher was very helpful this time around. I conceptualized Cloud of Ink much earlier in the process partly in order to apply for a Calvin Research Fellowship for this coming spring."

Most of the poems for the new volume were written over the past year. Klatt says a trip to Seattle last summer was especially inspiring.

"Poets need to find the things that give us energy and inspire us. We need to keep getting re-enthused."

When Klatt entered the Iowa Prize competition, he only hoped for some good feedback. "I thought of it as a dry run, and I intended to keep working on the volume over the next academic year."

Klatt explains that for this volume, he aimed to make his poems more direct and accessible than the poems in his more experimental Interloper. As a result of this aim, many of the poems are concerned with language and writing. "They play with ideas of transparency and obscurity." Occasionally, the poems play with the image of a squid: cloud of ink, squid, you could see the connection.

The official press release describes Klatt's poems with some fabulous prose: "Under the heat of inquiry, under the pressure of metaphor, the poems in this collection liquefy, bend, and serpentine as they seek sometimes a new and sometimes an ancient destination."

Congratulations to Prof. Klatt. We're all grinning with you!

Click here for a sample poem from the winning volume.