Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oscar Wilde Meets Jersey Shore

As Oscar Wilde once said, "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

Registration deadline for the Summer Seminar is nigh!

Tenants and friends, just a reminder that the deadline to register for the English Department's 2011 Summer Seminar in Literary and Cultural Studies is tomorrow, April 29th.* 

This summer's topic is "American Magic: The Fates of Folk and Fairy Tales in the Appalachians," and the seminar will run from June 9-12.  Carl Lindahl of the University of Houston, whose scholarship in both medieval literature and folklore has been highly praised, is the seminar leader. 

The seminar explores the Appalachian märchen tradition, with emphasis on the disjunctions, gaps, and misunderstandings in much of the work on these traditions:  in particular, we'll consider why most of the documented examples of such tales come from men, when women seem to have been the more active tellers of these stories, and also why West Virginia is underrepresented in collections of Appalachian märchen.

If your only exposure to Appalachian folktales is through Richard Chase's Jack Tales, join us to discover how much more complex and varied this tradition really is.  This is a non-credit seminar, so you only need to do the readings and enjoy the discussions--no papers, no exams, no stress.

Details and a downloadable registration form are available here.  Grad students in the English Department can register at the discounted rate of $125!

*Well, OK.  Realistically, we can probably take registrations for another week or so. But please, don't delay!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hiring: GTA Position in the Africana Studies Program

The Africana Studies Program in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will be hiring a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) for the 2011-12 Academic Year (August 16, 2011, to May 15, 2012, average 20 hours per week).


· Teach two sections of ASP 220 Introduction to Africana Studies in the fall 2011 semester and two sections in the spring 2012 semester
· Maintain at least three office hours each week for students

· Grade Examinations and Assignments

· Assist Coordinator of Africana Studies with program lectures and events


· Enrolled at WVU in a full-time graduate program 2011-12. Minimum GPA 3.0. Preference given to Eberly College of Arts and Sciences students.

· Excellent verbal and written communication skills, with a mastery of the English language

· Previous experience as a Graduate Teaching Assistant or Graduate Instructor teaching undergraduate students in highly desirable

· Experience working with diverse populations is highly desirable

Application Process:

Please send a cover letter describing your qualifications, a resume, and contact information for two faculty members who are willing to discuss your qualifications for the position to:

Joseph Hodge, Coordinator of the Africana Studies Program
220 Woodburn Hall,
P.O. Box 6303

Applicant reviews will begin on Monday, May 9st, 2011. Applications will be accepted until position is filled.

Congratulations to Vanja Duka

As Kirk Hazen (see below) reports:

"We would like to announce that Vanja Duka has successfully passed her MA thesis defense. Her thesis, 'Towards a New Understanding of ESL Students in the Classroom,' proposed ways of modifying composition pedagogy to support learning in classrooms with increasingly diverse language(s). The final product, weighing in at a svelte 102 pages, is a testament to Vanja's hard work and passion for better education.

Nathalie [Singh-Corcoran), Catherine [Gouge], and I congratulate Vanja on this accomplishment." TCH adds its own congratulations.

In The Spring, A Young Man's Fancy.....

To celebrate the imminent arrival of May, a Hindi Pop interlude.....

P.S. The Mary Ann Samyn Dancers plan to recreate this number at the Department's annual Spring Follies.

Did you get your copy of Calliope?

The crowd was still a little shy when I snapped this photo, but---believe me---they got over it and last Thursday's reading to celebrate the publication of this year's Calliope, our undergrad literary journal, was standing room only by the time things got underway. And editor Christine Schussler did an excellent job discussing the journal, introducing the readers, and generally setting a tone of admiration for her fellow writers and appreciation for her fellow editors. Several of this issue's artists were also on hand to discuss their work, which was a nice addition to the reading. If you haven't gotten your copy of the journal, they're still floating about... probably in Mark Brazaitis' office. Congratulations to this year's editors and writers and artists. Nice job!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Tenants Discover Video Games

It's been a cold and wet spring in the vicinity of Colson Hall, but there have been one or two nice evenings when the Tenants can gather on the front porch and watch the world go by ("the world," in this case, consisting primarily of pre-drunk undergraduates heading downtown) and wish they had some money.

The other evening someone mentioned that the kids these days seemed to like those video games, and that got the Tenants thinking about becoming rich by creating a new game. A lot of ideas were tossed around, including something called Professors vs. Zombies and Grand Theft Auto: Morgantown, but the most profitable suggestions came down to two ideas.

The first was a Facebook game called Colsonville, but we quickly abandoned that idea when we realized that this would lead to a spate of annoying status updates from the game:

Much more viable, we thought, was an attempt to cash in on the popularity of both Halo and Jane Austen by developing the next entry in the Halo franchise:

This struck the Tenants as very promising, and we immediately roughed out the artwork, as you can see, but we got a little stuck on the actual game development itself since sarcasm didn't really seem like an adequate weapon against the Covenant.

At this point, Professor Baldwin suggested that we might come up with a MMORPG (a massively multiplayer online role-playing game), and we started to talk about something called World of Schoolcraft, but it seemed to consist primarily of cross-grading, and then it started to get dark and someone mentioned pie and Professor Ballentine started talking about this island he used to have on Second Life when he was a boy and we decided to finish up our game some other day. If anyone knows how to write code, though, we'd appreciate it if you'd get in touch.

Congratulations, Kirk Hazen!

Well, our recent department luncheon may not have been quite like Monet imagined, but it was our special event for honoring students and faculty for excellence in writing and teaching, in research and service. And doesn't "luncheon" sound lovely? We certainly think so.

Among the more mysterious honors is the Captain Neely Award. If anyone can explain that one, TCH would be most grateful.

Among the best-kept-secret awards is Sigma Tau Delta's annual bestowing of favor upon an outstanding teacher. This year's recipient is Professor Kirk Hazen, famous—and, TCH ventures to say, infamous—for his linguistics courses. The award was presented by senior English major Yonina Hoffman who, one surmises, was one of the "wonderfully talented students" who Professor Hazen says he's been lucky to have "waltz through" his classes, our department, and STD.

So, kudos to the students of Sigma Tau Delta for their excellent choice, and congratulations to Kirk... for impressing our most impressive students. Nice job.

Interview with Glenn Taylor

1.) What were some of your favorite books as a kid?

I must have been about ten years old when I pulled a particular book out of a dime bin at a rummage sale. It was Somebody Up There Likes Me by Rocky Graziano. I still have it, though it’s in a rotten state -- unglued spine, the whole thing held together by rubber band. But I loved it as a boy, and in some ways, I still love it. It even inspired a story I published years ago in Chattahoochee Review. The story’s title? “Somebody Up There Hates Isaac Blizzard.”

2.) Tell us a bit about your family.

My father hails from Matewan, Mingo County, and my mother is from just down the road in Fairmont. I grew up in Huntington along with my two older sisters. My wife Margaret is also from Huntington, and we have three boys: Reece is seven, Thomas is five, and Eli is one. They were born in Chicago, but they have spent a good bit of time in West Virginia already, as their grandparents are all there. Reece is on the sixth Harry Potter book, Thomas (T-Bird to most) is closing in on his yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do, and Eli enjoys obsessively kissing his family members as well as pointing at round objects and loudly proclaiming “Bah.”

3.) Is there a writer you've particularly enjoyed studying with/under? Why?

While at Texas State, I had the privilege of enrolling in a few classes taught by Dagoberto Gilb. He is a hell of a writer, and he taught me the most about writing, in essence, by not teaching me. Instead, he instilled in me the idea that if a writer possesses an abundance of patience and a propensity to consistently put in hard work, good things may come.

4.) Is there a particular piece of writing advice that frequently comes to your mind?

There are many pieces of writing advice that come to mind. Advice comes from the blues, always the blues. Jerome Washington wrote, “The blues is our antidote,” and this is true for the writer if we can only learn to listen. Advice comes from poetry. Louise McNeill wrote, “I have gulled the pith from a sumac limb/ to play a tune that my blood remembers.” Indeed, as humans, we share blood that remembers, and it is the writer’s duty to recall the stories and remind everyone who we truly are.

5.) Tell us a bit about how you conduct a workshop and/or your goals/expectations in leading a workshop.

I suppose I’m somewhat traditional in terms of workshop format. My goals include the attempt to instill a consistent work ethic. My expectations include the attempt (on the part of the student) to truly understand what is meant by “storytelling.”

6.) What are you most looking forward to about moving back to West Virginia?

I look forward to the terrain (I’m no flatlander). I look forward to the closeness of extended family. And I look forward to becoming a full-fledged Tenant of Colson Hall.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dr. Dragulescu

The Tenants are pleased to congratulate Luminita Dragulescu on the successful defense of her doctoral dissertation. Under the able guidance of John Ernest (Chair), Tim Adams, Gwen Bergner, Donald Hall, and Gene Andrew Jarrett (Boston University), Lumi finished revising her dissertation this spring and passed her final oral at the beginning of the month. In Professor Ernest's words, "Lumi's dissertation covers a lot of ground, and she demonstrated an impressive understanding of that terrain, including its subterranean regions, in the defense.Well done, Lumi!"

Lumi's Final Oral (Artist's Conception)

MFA Thesis Season....

We are pleased to congratulate the following writers on successfully defending their MFA theses.

Congratulations, too, to their committee members who represent all facets of our department (isn't that nice?).

In Creative Nonfiction:

Sarah Einstein: Mot (Kevin Oderman, Ryan Claycomb, Sara Pritchard)

In Fiction:

Alex Berge: Mr. Bohemian (stories) (Mark Brazaitis, Jim Harms, Katy Ryan)

Heather Frese: The Baddest Girl on the Planet: A novel in stories (Mark Brazaitis, Kevin Oderman, Katy Ryan)

Aaron Hoover: Vinegar Ridge (novel) (Mark Brazaitis, Ellesa High, Jonathan Burton)

Rebecca Schwab: Dead and Wakeful Things (stories) (Mark Brazaitis, Kevin Oderman, Katie Fallon)

In Poetry:

Charity Gingerich: Walking, with Blackberries (Mary Ann Samyn, Jim Harms, Brian Ballentine)

Tori Moore: Something Almost Necessary (Jim Harms, Mary Ann Samyn, Pat Conner)

Christina Rothenbeck: Girls in Art (Mary Ann Samyn, Jim Harms, Jay Dolmage)

Danielle Ryle: Consistency; Consistency (Mary Ann Samyn, Jim Harms, John Lamb)

And of course we're looking forward to hearing these writers read from their work at The Most Important Reading of the Year on Thursday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhododendron Room. See you there!

From last night's final Bolton reading...

Those in attendance at last night's Bolton Workshops reading heard some really impressive stories and poems. Truly, our best reading ever. And it's all thanks to these ladies, the Boltoneers, pictured with me though, seriously, they did it all. From left to right: Charity Gingerich, Kelly Sundberg, Lisa Beans, Tori Moore, Heather Frese, and Danielle Ryle.

And thanks and congratulations, too, to the whole group: undergrads, RA's, and RFL's. Here are some of them.

Stayed tuned... we just might be back next year!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

So Many Readings!

Not only is it National Poetry Month, it's also the Month o' Readings here on campus. So, mark your calendars and come listen to our students read their terrific essays, stories, and poems.

And yes, this photo is from, but it could just as easily be a poetry reading. Panthers, poets: what's the difference?

And wouldn't it be fun to have readings outdoors... at the Arboretum, maybe---? Let's put on our thinking caps and make a plan. We can sit in a circle and maybe the guy with the guitar will show up!

Ok, here's your schedule:

Thursday, April 21, 7:30 p.m., Calliope reading, 130 Colson Hall

Thursday, April 28, 2:30 p.m., English 418/CW Capstone reading, Rhododendron Room

Thursday, April 28, 7:30 p.m., MFA reading, Rhododendron Room

Saturday, April 30, 6:00 p.m., MFA program 10th Anniversary celebration, Hatfield's

See you there!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Sure is.

And if you don't have a poem handy (how this is possible, I don't know), you can visit The Academy of American Poets for some suggestions.

Here now is a poem to get your day started off right. From James Wright, the final poem in his Collected Poems:

Northern Pike

All right. Try this,
Then. Every body
I know and care for,
And every body
Else is going
To die in a loneliness
I can't imagine and a pain
I don't know. We had
To go on living. We
Untangled the net, we slit
The body of this fish
Open from the hinge of the tail
To a place beneath the chin
I wish I could sing of.
I would just as soon we let
The living go on living.
An old poet whom we believe in
Said the same thing, and so
We paused among the dark cattails and prayed
For the muskrats,
For the ripples below their tails,
For the little movements that we knew the crawdads
were making under water,
For the right-hand wrist of my cousin, who is a policeman.
We prayed for the game warden's blindness.
We prayed for the road home.
We ate the fish.
There must be something very beautiful in my body,
I am so happy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Glenn Taylor's top 10 books of the American South

Glenn Taylor, an accomplished novelist, will be joining the WVU MFA faculty in the fall. Find his top ten books of the American South here. Also, keep an eye out for my interview with him in the upcoming MFA newsletter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Visit to the Enchanted Forest

Over the weekend, this poet had a spine-tingling experience. In a suburb of Baltimore, the 50-some year old relics of a childrens' park is being reconstructed. So we entered The Enchanted Forest, beginning with Rapunzel leaning out of her castle and ending with um, Jonah and Robin Hood. In between were the houses of the 3 little pigs, bears, and the Old Woman's Shoe. Mother Goose would be so proud!

Here is an excerpt, and may I stress excerpt, of the photos my wonderful sidekick took:

Goldilocks is frightened!

House of the 3 Little Bears (and yes, they are at home!)

House of the 3 Little Pigs. (And yes, they have made a pelt of their fox!)

And finally...a prototype of our teaching selves. Yes?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Reading 2011: Who Likes Short Shorts? We like Mike Czyzniejewski's short shorts!

As the wise newly appointed Master of Fiction, Rebecca Schwab, once told us, “take as many extra workshops as you can, like the Sturm and the WVWW and mini-workshops with visiting writers. Every comment helps.”

So four of us did. On April fourth, four lucky fictioneers, Rachel King, Shane Stricker, and RebCon, got to participate in a mini-workshop with Mike Czyzniejewski. Since 2000, Mike has been the editor of Bowling Green State University’s Mid-American Review, a prestigious publication in the world of literary magazines. He received his MFA in fiction from the school and now teaches there in the General Studies Writing program. He published his first collection of stories, Elephants in Our Bedroom, in 2009.

In the mini-workshop, Mike was not only generous with his comments, but he was generous with his lit mag, giving each of us workshoppers a free copy of MAR. Those things aren’t cheap! After there is no longer space on our fridge and bulletin boards for our copious amounts of form rejection letters, it’s easy to think of editors as unapproachable, impersonal, soulless, people who obviously don’t know what’s best for their lit mags. However, Mike proved us wrong. From the moment he sat down, he was friendly and cracking jokes. He had a laid-back workshop style, focusing on what was working within our stories.

Here are some of the highlights. We hope these comments will tempt everyone to jump at the chance to workshop with visiting writers:

Mike “forced [Shane] to explore macguffins further.” According to Mike, a macguffin is an image or object that carries the story, but the object is left ambiguous. Mike referenced the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino represent!

Mike gave Rachel pointers for starting a journal (“1,000 dollars, a faculty advisor, and a lot of work,” Rachel says. [Wo]man up! RebCon says.). He also gave Rachel great advice on revisions. Rachel told us, “Mike mentioned that he reads his stories over and over, sometimes even a hundred times. If [you] don’t like [your] story on the twentieth read through, an editor probably won’t like it on his/her first read through. [She] was reminded to make her stories good enough to stand up to re-readings.”

Rebecca says that her favorite thing was when he called Connie Pan’s writing beautiful. She agrees with Mike! Mike was full of advice on making stories that stand out to an editor. She appreciated his comment about getting characters out of houses. In other words, getting characters moving.

Connie liked that he prescribed everyone stories to read that would inform their work. His comment about shelving stories for months and then revisiting them made Connie realize to not rush sending out her stories. “Marinate!” Connie says.

Mike’s style did not change when he was reading his own work in the beautiful Robinson Reading Room. He was funny, he pointed out the Dante bust, and he did a mean Mr. T impression. He led off his reading with his title story from Elephants in Our Bedroom, moving on to a brand new story still in the revision stages (because he read with a pen in hand) and a sample of short shorts about Chicago. Look for his chapbook, Chicago Stories, about the Windy City and its infamous citizens, ranging from Barack Obama discussing bowling to Mr. T hawking an erectile dysfunction medicine to the shared guilt between Mrs. O’Leary’s cow and Steve Bartman.

As the night ended, we went back home, our stories full of comments, reminding ourselves to thank Master of Fiction Alex Berge for making for suggesting that such a great writer visit WVU.

Congratulations Chelsea Henshey

Congratulations to Chelsea Henshey, an outstanding undergraduate writer I've had the pleasure of working with, for publishing her very first short story, "Seal of Confession," in Santa Clara Review. Santa Clara is an attractive national journal with a fine reputation. (It was also one of my first publications, so I have a fond spot in my heart for it.) Here's hoping that Chelsea enjoys her accomplishment and that this is the first of many pubs to come.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Susan Lantz Wins Buswell Award

The Tenants have been very pleased to learn that Susan Lantz, one of the doctoral students and also Assistant Director of Student Employment, is this year's recipient of the Mary Catherine Buswell Award. The Buswell Award, to quote the official announcement, "honors a faculty or staff member or citizen who has provided outstanding service to women at WVU. Award recipients are chosen for excellence in their field as it relates to the advancement of WVU women, community and civic activities that serve and advance women, or significant pioneering activities that improve the status of women."