Two Words Where One Won’t Do: Against Conciseness

Dylan Taylor | 25 July 2017.

The dawning supremacy of M.F.A. writing is well observed and disparaged by many. Arguably, this ‘homogenized, over-workshopped writing’ has become increasingly content to follow prevailing literary models, making much contemporary English literature unambitious and conservative. Rather than push boundaries, many modern writers seem content to contribute their own version of a story that has been told a thousand times before: a story typically of love, of coming-of-age, of examining identity, in middle-class London or New York. Overwhelmingly, the stylistic cornerstone of such a story is prose that is polished and clear: all unjustified adjectives must go.

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Fogging Lit Crit: Tale of Two Critics

Kate Lewis Hood and Niki Holzapfel | 3 April 2017.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ‘prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.

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Felicitous

Niki Holzapfel | 6 March 2017

“I wrote stories from the time I was a little girl, but I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress. I didn’t realize then that it’s the same impulse. It’s make-believe. It’s performance. The only difference being that a writer can do it all alone” -Joan Didion, The Paris Review, 1978

I was once in a class with someone who referred to Joan Didion lovingly as “Joan” and spoke of her with the utmost reverence. Rightfully so; the quote above—to me, at least—is brilliant. Writing creatively gives me narratives other than my own to consider. Not a unique conclusion, I realize, but one that makes the act of writing so attractive, so much more than a hobby to mock, so freeing.

The following piece was written when a number of narratives competed in my mind—when make-believe made the most sense.

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Cultural Appropriation: From Seinfeld to Shriver

17 October 2016 | Richard Elliott

In ‘The Yada Yada’ episode of Seinfeld, dentist Tim Whatley announces to Jerry and George that he has become a Jew, and immediately begins to crack jokes based around his new-found identity. When Jerry goes to a Catholic confessional to express his suspicion that Whatley has “converted to Judaism purely for the jokes,” the priest asks him “And this offends you as a Jewish person?” to which Jerry replies “No, it offends me as a comedian.”

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Refuge and Asylum: A Gardener’s Guide

February 15, 2016 | Sarah Stewart.

Gardens are a cultural staple the world over. You would be hard put to find a major world religion in which gardens do not feature; the sheer multitude of garden-related metaphors you hear everyday are testament to our language’s continuing reliance on concepts born in gardens, not to mention the prevalence of the garden in literary and artistic traditions. For millennia, gardens have been reflections of divine order on earth; spaces to display status, but, fundamentally, they are places where people negotiate with the land, and other people, in order to thrive. Given their global relevance, what potential do gardens and gardening have to bridge barriers between cultures and people of vast differences in background and experience? Between, say, established British citizens and asylum seekers and refugees?

[tw: discussions of torture]

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What would you create to describe your creative process?

October 30, 2015 | Lisa Naas

The creative process is present across disciplines and used by everyone from artists to bakers to computer programmers to teachers. But though it is a highly personal endeavour, are there patterns or elements inherent to these individual processes? Lisa Naas’s videoart SORROWS documents her own creative process specific to her glass and sound project.

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