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Craft Talks with Lan Samantha Chang & Willie Perdomo
Thursday, May 19 @ 2:00 pm
Fiction Craft Talk: How do Novels Differ from Short Stories? with Lan Samantha Chang
The short story and the novel are different forms with separate purposes and effects. Yet we often discuss them together in workshops, as if the process of writing them were the same. I’m interested in looking pragmatically at this dilemma, and I will begin by defining the short story and the novel. What are the characteristics of these two forms? What do they have in common, and how do they differ? Although writers often begin by writing short stories, many hope and plan to develop into novelists. Is this a reasonable plan? Is it artistically or pragmatically necessary? Ultimately, I am hoping to talk about how we make artistic choices and how we might think about these choices as we make lives as writers.
Poetry Craft Talk: The Rude Tongue with Willie Perdomo
In a letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman described the use of his “rude tongue” in the development of his poetic voice. Toni Morrison once remarked that we should write in the language we grew up with. What happens when poets move outside the borders of traditional English usage? In this seminar we will examine the role of mother/native tongue used in poetry and prose through examination of published poems, and generative writing exercises using existing models to reinterpret. We’ll also attempt to explore how language and society intersect and construct both individual and group identity. How do multi-linguistic constructions impact writing? What is silenced in your own work by dominant culture? How does this shift in perspective rupture or deepen our own writing?
Lan Samantha Chang is the award-winning author of the collection Hunger and the novels The Family Chao, Inheritance and All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost. A recent Berlin Prize Fellow, she also has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Chang is the first Asian American and the first female director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Iowa City.
Award-winning poet and children’s book author Willie Perdomo is the author of The Crazy Bunch (Penguin Books, 2019), which The New Yorker called, “Oracular, intoxicating,” The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin Poets, 2014), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Milton Kessler Poetry Award; winner of the International Latino Book Award, and a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominee. He is also the author of Smoking Lovely, originally published by Rattapallax in 2004 and winner of the PEN/Beyond Margins Awards, which has been reissued by Haymarket Books in 2021; and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime (Norton, 1996), a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. Perdomo is a Pushcart nominee, two-time New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow and a former Woolrich Fellow in Creative Writing at Columbia University. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, Bomb Magazine, and African Voices.
Perdomo’s children’s books include Clemente! (Henry Holt & Co., 2010), winner of the 2011 Amerícas Award for children’s and young adult literature; Visiting Langston (Henry Holt & Co., 2002), and Postcards of El Barrio (Isla Negra Editores, 2002).
Born and raised in New York City, the city, its people, and its rich, vibrant cultures deeply inform Perdomo’s work, as well the lineage of writers who’ve helped form his aesthetic vision. In an interview with Words without Borders, Perdomo was asked about iconic literary places in New York City that are meaningful to him: “Go to the corner where Claude Brown used to scrap & fisticuff daily; to the rooftop where Piri Thomas used to scream his poems to the world; to the bench where Julia De Burgos collapsed from heartbreak; to the neighborhood where Lorca saw a Puerto Rican woman so beautiful that he wrote his mother, convinced that they were the most beautiful in the world; where Jack Agueros wrote his sonnets; where Pedro Pietri ignited a revolution; where Henry Dumas was tragically shot; where Toni Cade Bambara told our usable truths; where Lou Reed waited for his connection; where Carlito Brigante weighed the angles; the bushes where Miguel Pinero slept; the subway line where Audre Lorde wrote her poems; the SEEK program where Adrienne Rich used to teach in the 1970s . . . “
Perdomo is currently a member of the VONA/Voices faculty and an English Instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy. He divides his time between New Hampshire and New York City.