Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Holiday Zoo Lights at the National Zoo

Happy holidays! I hope that you have a relaxing time with friends and family. Perhaps you'll have some time to sneak in some reading and writing, too?

See you back here on January 7th!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Adjunct Professor Salaries & The Adjunct Project

Are you an adjunct professor or considering becoming one? The Adjunct Project has put together important data about this world. I highly recommend their website. Here's more about them in their own words:

The Adjunct Project began in February 2012 as a simple crowd-sourced Google spreadsheet onto which over 1500 adjunct professors added details about their extreme working conditions. The original spreadsheet was developed by Josh Boldt as a way to compile data on the treatment of these contingent faculty members. The first call to action announced: “Combining our knowledge and resources will help us all to better understand the reality of life as an adjunct professor. The goal of this website is to identify universities that set the standard for best practices with regard to adjuncts.”

The Adjunct Project has since evolved into a website which houses the original Google Doc, an adjunct blog, and a niche job board. The Adjunct Project job site displays jobs specifically for educated, driven people who seek careers in higher education and also in the new fields categorized as the “alternate academy” (Alt-Ac). The job board also posts for positions outside of academia that require the same superior writing, research, and leadership skills these advanced degree holders acquired in graduate school.

Goals of the Adjunct Project
            Empower adjunct professors
            Match talented and educated people with career tracks in which they will succeed and will be appreciated
            Promote transparency in higher education employment practices
            Provide a quick reference for teachers, students, and parents regarding the value a given school places on education and human rights
            Recognize schools that are treating faculty well
            Expose schools that are not treating faculty well
            Connect adjunct professors and anyone who is interested in saving American higher education

Monday, December 10, 2012

Poetry Podcasts

During this Year of Health, I've been exercising more. Luckily, my exercise consists mainly of long walks (rather than, say swimming), so I can also listen to poetry podcasts as I clock the miles. It's been really wonderful to add more poetry to my life.

I've managed to find a few favorite poetry podcasts to listen to regularly; I've linked to them below. What else would you recommend?

Academy of American Poets' Podcast

Late Night Library

Poetry Magazine Podcasts

Slate's Poetry Podcast

University of Chicago's poetry readings and lectures

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Blog Birthday! (And Giveaway!)

Time to celebrate with a birthday treat!

Today this blog is three years old! Thank you to my readers and guest contributors over the years for making this blog a success.

On Monday, Dec. 7th, 2009, I wrote the first post. As a composition writing instructor, it was about a subject I discuss often in class: Thesis statements.

Some blog highlights over the years include celebrating National Poetry Month in April with guest bloggers and creating an archive of over 50 writing prompts.

In honor of the blog's birthday, I'd like to offer a free, signed copy of Unrest to a randomly selected commenter below. So, please leave a comment by midnight on Sunday to enter to win the contest! The winner will be announced on our Facebook page on Monday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Literary Agent Search Resources

Are you searching for a literary agent?

If you haven't already, start to submit your work to literary magazines before you submit your manuscript or selection, along with a query letter, to an agent. Your query letter will be stronger if you can list some previous publications. If you are working on a longer collection, like a memoir, you might pull out some sections and craft them to stand on their own as individual essays. Try to publish shorter pieces, like essays or short stories, before submitting your entire manuscript to an agent or press.

Do understand that agents primarily represent fiction and non-fiction authors. Poets will likely be submitting their manuscript to small presses (independent literary and university presses) and first time book publishing contests.

The literary world, as you might guess, is generally struggling financially. I strongly recommend that you not only read literary magazines before you submit, but also subscribe to one or two every year to help support them. You can search through literary magazines for submissions and subscriptions through the links here.

Once you start submitting to literary magazines, presses or agents, you'll need to keep track of your submissions. For more tips on organizing your submissions, click here. Of course the downside to submitting is that all of us will and do receive rejections. Here's a more optimistic view on the inevitable rejections.

To search for agents, look at the Writer's Digest books. Writer's Market will give you share tips on how-to search for an agent, what to put into your query letter, as well as lists of agents. You can also search through their site. Poets & Writer's Magazine has a great online search for agents, too, through their website.

You might look through some of these related articles about finding a literary agent from Writer's Digest.

Do you have a question or suggestion about finding a literary agent? Please share in the Comments Section below. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Valuing the Creative Side: Thoughts from Harvard Admissions

A friend recently posted a link to this essay, “Valuing the Creative and Reflective” by a professor at Harvard for the Harvard College Admissions website. I was happy to see an elite university valuing the creative side of applicants.

When I work with college and grad school applicants who are writing their personal statements, I encourage them to address aspects of themselves that might be not obvious in other parts of their application. It can be a balancing act to describe both  the creative and academic sides of a person, as well as the other sides (personal, work, athletic, etc.) that might be relevant.  

Here are my favorite two sections from the essay, which you can read in its entirety here:

"To have great poets," as Whitman said, "there must be great audiences too." The matrix of culture will become impoverished if there are not enough gifted artists and thinkers produced: and since universities are the main producers for all the professions, they cannot neglect the professions of art and reflection.

With a larger supply of creative and reflective admittees on campus, fellow-students will benefit not only from seeing their style of life and attending their exhibits or plays or readings, but also from their intellectual conversation. America will, in the end, be grateful to us for giving her original philosophers, critics, and artists; and we can let the world see that just as we prize physicians and scientists and lawyers and judges and economists, we also are proud of our future philosophers, novelists, composers, and critics, who, although they must follow a rather lonely and highly individual path, are also indispensable contributors to our nation's history and reputation.

How would you express your creativity in a personal essay? Need help with your personal essay or other application essays? Let me know how I can help

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Blog Post: A Do-It-Yourself Poetry Workshop in Washington, D.C.

Thanks to poets Elizabeth (Betsy) Kudlacz and Shradha Shah for recently traveling to Washington, D.C., for a Do-It-Yourself Poetry Workshop. Since formal workshops and conferences can be expensive, crafting your own planned gathering can save on costs while still gathering together other writers to discuss your own writing, books you’ve read and writing prompts, too. This approach gave us the freedom to discuss poetry and use the city’s landscape at the same time. 

Thanks to Betsy and Shradha for sharing their thoughts on our time together. And for traveling to D.C.!

Having met in ‘formal’ workshops, we took it upon ourselves to maintain a small writing community.  Because we are not all located within the same city, or even time zone, we must rely on email, Skype or other methods to stay in touch remotely.  However, holding a ‘live’ conference affords a richer experience and so we agreed to try and get together on a regular basis. And through a series of circumstances, the first of these meetings was recently held in Washington, D.C.

Nearly all aspects of the 4 days/3 nights that we shared focused in some way upon literature.  The accommodation was the B+B called Akwaaba, which features rooms named for famous African American writers. It is quiet, has a lovely large parlor conducive to chat, and its location on 16th and R Streets in Dupont Circle afforded easy access to a number of coffee shops (Steam CafĂ© and Tryst), restaurants (Eatonville) and other literary hotspots around U Street (Busboys and Poets). 

Prior to arriving, we agreed upon what it was we wanted to accomplish during our time together and a daily agenda was prepared to incorporate those aspects.  For example, we decided to devote time to the following:

- Workshopping some  ‘old ‘ poems
- Discuss manuscripts by published poets  (‘Lives of the Heart’ by Jane Hirshfield)
- Write new work based upon poetry prompts which were matched to excursions to Washington, D.C., sights.

In fact, during the course of our sight-seeing, we not only engaged in writing prompts at the location, but on occasion read poems about the place.  For example, at the National Zoo, we thought/wrote about how we might relate to any specific animal and their behaviors.  In addition, we read poems including “The Panther” by Rainer Maria Rilke and “The Woman at the National Zoo” by Randall Jarrell. Admittedly, sometimes the exercises felt a little contrived and the writing a bit pressured when what we really wanted to do was enjoy the animals!

Other places visited included the Library of Congress (to write there you will need to get a library card, which is well worth the effort) and several Smithsonian museums for inspiration when addressing prompts related to writing about a work of art or book. 

A special bonus was the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit“Poetic Likeness” and the courtyard there is a particularly lovely venue for working.

A central location like Washington, D.C., afforded the opportunity to meet up with additional poetry acquaintances.  Maintaining such friendships in these busy times is important.  And  let’s face it; most of us write in solitude so make the effort to spend the time to grow and gather the tribe.

About the authors:
Elizabeth (Betsy) Kudlacz is a full-time scientist and part time poet.  Born and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, she currently lives, works and writes in Groton, Connecticut.  Some of her haiku and poems have appeared in journals, including Cicada, Aurorean, Connecticut River Review, Caduceus, Bellowing Ark and Freshwater, as well as in various anthologies.

Shradha Shah is a practicing poet and physician in San Francisco.  She aspires for her writing to informs her medical work as vice versa.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

IASA Conference Presentation

I'm looking forward to participating in a panel discussion on Sat., Dec. 1st at Hofstra University for the 2012 IASA conference. I am particularly excited to hear what my co-panelists have to say on the subject. See you there?

Here's our panel description:

Not Just Sunday Gravy:
Italian-Americanization of Authors and Creative Writing
Chair: Chloe Yelena Miller, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Joey Nicoletti, Niagara University
Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Passaic Community College
Valerio Bartolucci, Broward College
Gerard “Gerry” LaFemina, Frostburg Center for Creative Writing

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Shopping for Writers

One of the poetry postcard images available from Etsy

Looking for that perfect gift for a writer in your life? Want to add to your own wish list?

You can purchase Writing Coach Gift Certificates in flexible denominations to be used within the year. 

You might also consider Poetry Postcards from my Etsy store. 

Looking for that perfect piece of literature or craft book? Browse through my Amazon store for suggestions. 

Email me with any questions: Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving & Building Holiday Stories

Pre-sauce cranberries

Happy Thanksgiving Week! 

If you are working on your memoir or personal essays, the holidays are a great time to gather together family stories. As you prepare meals traditional to your family, your senses will be heightened. Just like Proust's Madeleine, the smells and tastes will quickly transport you to the past. Give yourself some time to, at the very least, jot down some notes. 

If you are gathering together with relatives, you might ask them casual or formal questions. Storycorps, whose recordings you might have heard on NPR, has some great questions and suggestions on interviewing. (Don't forget to ask for specific recipes, if you don't already have them.)

If you haven't already mentioned that you are writing a memoir, you might wait until you have something that you are ready to share with others. After all, the piece is yours and you have the right to craft a piece from your own memories. Don't let the critics in too early.

I look forward to seeing you back here on Monday.