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Alexandra Rowan Writing Festival

Date: 
Apr 7 2017 - 9:30am - 4:00pm

The Alexandra Rowan Writing Festival perpetuates and enhances the vibrant arts community Alex loved. Through the Alexandra L. Rowan Memorial Foundation, David and Roz Rowan honor the memory of their daughter, Alex Rowan and contribute to Pitt’s English department. A 2013 Pitt graduate with a double major in Communications and English Writing, Alexandra—who died of a pulmonary embolism in October 2013—was widely involved in Pittsburgh’s writing community. 

Schedule

9:30-10:00 Continental Breakfast

10:00-11:00 Publishing Q&A with Sheila Squillante, editor of Fourth River 501 CL

11:00-12:30 Concurrent Master Classes taught by Jane McCafferty, 602 CL; Lauren Russell, 512 CL; & Meghan Daum, 527 CL (see below for details)

1:00-2:30 Lunch in 501 for festival participants; Lunch for Award winners with Meghan Daum and David and Roz Rowan at the University Club

3:00-4:00 Reading of Work by Rowan Award Winners, 501 CL

 

Master Classes

To sign up for a master class, please write to Andrea Laurion at arl117@pitt.edu. Space is limited. 

Meghan Daum, Making Memoir Matter

Too often, writers of creative nonfiction get bogged down in telling their own story, leaving the reader to wonder at the end, “So what? Why should I care?” In this master class, we will examine some of the common pitfalls of telling a personal story and learn how to broaden potential tunnel vision. We will explore the importance of grounding your story in a wider context—whether that be a present-day controversy, cultural observation, or even an existential question. After all, memoirs and essays are only meaningful insofar as the personal illuminates the universal.

Meghan Daum has been an op-ed columnist for The Los Angeles Times since 2005. A 2015 Guggenheim fellow, she is the author of four books as well as the editor of the anthology Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Choice Not to Have Children. Daum’s own collection of essays, The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion is a series of original works looking at sentimentality and manufactured emotion in American life. She has contributed to public radio's Morning Edition, Marketplace and This American Life and has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Harper's, GQ, Elle, and Vogue. Daum currently divides her time between Los Angeles and New York, where she is an adjunct associate professor in the MFA writing division at Columbia University's School of the Arts.

Lauren Russell, Second Lives of Found Texts: Substitutions, Erasures, Cross-Outs, and Other Poetic Interventions

Does your psychology textbook want to be a poem? How about that blog post or family history, that news clipping or diary, the political speech you find so inspiring /enraging? This hands-on foray into work with found texts will open participants up to new possibilities for poem making while raising discussion about authorship, appropriation, the construction of “fact,” and how we can make new statements with/through/into/around old language.

Optional: Bring several copies of a short (one-page) text or texts. In choosing your text(s), be as inventive as you want; the only requirement is that you are not the author.

Lauren Russell’s first full-length book, What’s Hanging on the Hush, is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press, and her chapbook Dream-Clung, Gone came out from Brooklyn Arts Press in 2012. A Cave Canem fellow, she was the 2014-2015 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and was the 2016 VIDA Fellow to the Home School. She is a research assistant professor in the English Department and is Assistant Director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh. has been an op-ed columnist for The Los Angeles Times since 2005. A 2015 Guggenheim fellow, she is the author of four books as well as the editor of the anthology Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Choice Not to Have Children. Daum’s own collection of essays, The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion is a series of original works looking at sentimentality and manufactured emotion in American life. She has contributed to public radio's Morning EditionMarketplace and This American Life and has written for numerous publications, including The New YorkerThe New York Times MagazineThe GuardianHarper's, GQElle, and Vogue. Daum currently divides her time between Los Angeles and New York, where she is an adjunct associate professor in the MFA writing division at Columbia University's School of the Arts.

Jane McCafferty, Using Poetry to Launch Stories

Image—concrete sensory details—can launch and drive a story. This class will teach students how to use poems as prompts to write effective openings of stories or flash fictions, with an emphasis on the power of strong and surprising images to stimulate imagination.

Every student will write timed exercises, then read aloud.

Jane McCafferty writes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Her work has been awarded many awards, including The Drue Heinz award, a National Endowments for the Arts award, the Great Lakes award for fiction, two Pushcart prizes, several pushcart honorable mentions, and a Book Sense award. She is author of four books of fiction, most recently First You Try Everything, and she won the 2016 Talking/Writing essay contest. She teaches as Carnegie Mellon, and for Madwomen in the Attic, and works in the community as part of The Pittsburgh Memoir project. 

 

 

 

 

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