ASFA-CW’s Kwoya Maples: History in the Making

FullSizeRender (1)Here at ASFA-CW, we have some impressive faculty members (if we do say so ourselves). They teach, they write, they engage the world in interesting ways.

Case in point: Kwoya Fagin Maples.

Among many other contributions to our department, Kwoya’s been the driving force behind our 3-D Poetry initiative — a project that allows our students to blend poetry and visual art, and to exhibit their work in local art galleries. It’s been a boon to our students’ understanding of their own creative processes, and the work they’ve produced has been a big hit with gallery-goers.

Kwoya’s own creative projects are really taking off right now, as well. She recently organized a successful poetry marathon and protest at the monument to J. Marion Sims outside the Columbia, S.C., capitol building. Sims — known as the “father of modern gynecology” — conducted experimental surgeries on enslaved women in the antebellum South, without anesthesia or their consent. Kwoya’s new manuscript, a collection of poems that seeks to give voice to the women themselves, was recently a finalist for the prestigious AWP Prize (among other accolades its already received prior to its publication) and will be published in the fall of 2018 by the University Press of Kentucky!

We recently volleyed a few questions back and forth (cuz that’s what poets do) — about Kwoya’s work and her creative process, about the role of poetry in contemporary society, and about how the personal always seems to find its roundabout way into the poetical (political, historical…). Here’s the transcript: Continue reading

Fiction Writer Cate O’Toole Chooses Her Own ASFA-CW Interview Adventure!

74Cate O’Toole was awarded a Rachel Carson Fellowship and earned her MFA in fiction from Chatham University. She is the author of the chapbook Big Women, Big Girls (Stamped Books, 2011) and her stories have appeared in Six Sentences and the 6S Vol. 1 anthology, Wanderlust Review, The Linnet’s Wings, shady side review, and elsewhere. Cate was the 2012 recipient of the Poetry & Prose Winter Getaway’s Jan-Ai Scholarship. She lives and writes in Seattle, WA.

Her collection of flash fictions, Oh My Darling!, re-imagines the folk ballad “Oh My Darling, Clementine” into a haunting choose-your-own-adventure (CYA) narrative, of which Harmony Neal writes: “All roads lead to death — it’s the choices along the journey that make the life. Cate O’Toole has masterfully created the parallel stories of Clementine, letting the reader choose her path, which, while not pretty, is made of choices, as all lives are. Grim, sure, but choose your own adventure never goes out of style, especially when the language sings and the setting gets dirt in your teeth.”

After reading (and loving) Oh My Darling! for this past year’s Senior Thesis seminar, ASFA-CW Seniors (’17) Norah Madden-Lunsford and Willow Tucker devised their own CYA adventure for Cate to navigate. Here’s the path she took:  Continue reading

ASFA-CW’s “Iris Rinke-Hammer pushes her students to find their voice.”

IrisCWroom

Click here to read Erin Edgemon’s excellent al.com feature profile of award-winning master teacher, Iris Rinke-Hammer! The best news of all? “Though, she is in her 60s now,” Edgemon writes, “Rinke-Hammer isn’t thinking of retiring anytime soon. ‘I love it too much,’ she said, of teaching. ‘This is brain food and heart food for me. It is very fulfilling.'” As the article clearly indicates, Iris is one big reason why ASFA-CW is the place to be for Alabama’s best young writers!

ASFA-CW Seniors Interview Poet Lauren Goodwin Slaughter

lauren_slaughterIn a new feature on the ASFA-CW “News + Notes” blog, the editorial staff of Cadence, our award-winning school literary magazine, will conduct interviews of various writerly luminaries — including (but not necessarily limited to) all our visiting writers. In preparation for this Friday evening’s Ron Casey Reading at ASFA, the staff (a.k.a., the ASFA-CW seniors) has been reading the latest poetry collections penned by our visitors — Lauren Goodwin Slaughter and Mark Neely — who both graciously responded in-depth to a few of our questions about their fine work.

First up: our interview with Lauren. She is the recipient of a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Her poetry has appeared in venues such as Blackbird, Blue Mesa Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hunger Mountain, Kenyon Review Online, and Verse Daily, among others. She is co-fiction editor at DIAGRAM and an assistant professor of English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Originally from Philadelphia, she now lives in Birmingham with her husband and two young children.

Her first collection of poetry, A Lesson in Smallness, was released in 2015 by the National Poetry Review Press. “Though titled A Lesson in Smallness,” writes poet Erin Belieu, “Slaughter’s language is large, attentive, loving, and dynamic, even while acknowledging that our connections to others — in this case, as wife, mother, daughter — sometimes require a steep mortgage on a woman’s most intimate and individual desires.”  Continue reading

The Most Famous Teacher in the World

1991Here’s a link to a fairly recent interview with Rafe Esquith (via the Washington Post), the subject of the documentary Julianna presented in ninth period on Tuesday. In it, he talks about why he thinks Finland has an advantage over the United States when it comes to school reform, and he articulates his reservations on reform programs in the U.S., such as Teach for America and the Common Core.