ASFA-CW: Open House! Sat Oct 19! | 9AM – 10AM – 11AM! | @asfaschool! Lecture Hall! (#seeyouthere!)

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We’re always excited to share what we do and why we do it, so Open House is always a fun event for us. Here are a few links to check out if you’re interested in ASFA-CW:

Our Philosophy

Nuts + Bolts (Poetry + Fiction)

Selected Resources for Young Writers


ASFA-CW Sprints to the Fall-Semester Finish Line!

Who says nothing happens in school after the Thanksgiving Break?! Clearly whoever says/thinks that has never seen the goings-on around here — where, if anything, we’ve picked up the pace as November (and the fall semester) comes to a close. To wit:

Just between Tuesday and Thursday of this past week…

  • We fired up the short bus to go visit our writing compatriots in the 5th Grade at Princeton Elementary, where we talked about the importance of sensory detail and we wrote about our favorite foods;
  • We took part in an enlightening, invigorating, and highly interactive ASFA-Theatre workshop based on the work of August Wilson and presented by visiting teaching-artist (and former ASFA student) Nikki Toombs of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta;
  • And poet and editor Dale Wisely, co-founder of One Sentence Poems (among other cool literary magazines), visited our CW Practicum classes to talk about how he balances work, life, writing, and literary citizenship. (Oh, and PS, he also announced that the editors of One Sentence Poems have nominated ASFA-CW senior Anna Butcher for a Puschcart Prize, her second such nomination this month!)

That’s in addition to a flurry of critiques and subsequent revisions as our students prepare to submit their final portfolios in December. Again, we ask: who says it’s all coasting after Turkey Day?!

ASFA-CW Out + About in #Birmingham to Hear Poet Matt Miller Read in the UAB Writers’ Series at the Alys Stephens Center


ASFA-CW students get to avail themselves of the rich cultural scene in the Birmingham city center — museums, parks, historic landmarks, coffee shops. This year, that’s even more true as we have been traveling to Southside to take in the UAB Writers’ Series — most recently to hear Matt Miller read from his excellent latest collection of poems, The Wounded for the Water. Many thanks to Kerry Madden-Lunsford, the Director of UAB’s Creative Writing program (and an ASFA-CW parent-alum!) and all the CW faculty at UAB for the great opportunity!

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 Inaugural Fundraiser = SMASH SUCCESS!

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With the help of our friends at the Nitty Gritty Magic City Reading Series and the Desert Island Supply Company, ASFA-CW took Woodlawn by storm this evening. We made our goal and then some, but more important our kids really stepped up to the plate — writing poems on demand in the lunch room for the past two weeks, selling raffle tickets, spreading the word, and then sharing their fine work in what is probably BHM’s preeminent venue for writers of all ages. It’s good to be an ASFA-CWer. Thanks especially to the senior class and THE Ms. Ashley M. Jones, who spearheaded the effort. #huzzah!

ASFA-CW Open House!

Today we’re hosting our annual open house, which is always a good time. It’s a treat for us to spread the good word about what we do here at ASFA-CW. In case you aren’t able to join us, here’s a thumbnail sketch of some of the resources (etc) we have to offer:

Here’s our departmental page on the school’s web site. Lots of useful info there, not least our calendar of events.

Here are some other excellent writing-related organizations in Birmingham:

To be a great writer, you need to read. A lot. And widely. For young writers, it’s also important to try to read a little bit above your grade level — to stretch your imagination and your critical thinking skills. Good writing is good thinking; reading challenging material helps you think better. Here are some resources to help you read broadly and deeply:


Last ASFA-CW Outreach Visit of the School Year


One of the coolest things ASFA-CW students get to do is work with local elementary students to foster their interest in writing. For the past several years, we’ve had a very successful partnership with the 5th grade at Princeton Elementary. ASFA-CW juniors and seniors work with Princeton students all year, learning about — and writing — poetry, fiction, and persuasive essays. In the process, everybody has fun and, when the school year comes to a close, it’s always bittersweet: we’re all proud of what we’ve accomplished and we’re sad it’s over. Congrats to the Princeton kids who worked so hard and achieved so much this year! We’ll miss you guys!!

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

This Week in The Writing Life: [Apr 4 – 8]

Here are our primary tasks this week:

  • YWLA Contest entries. First we put ’em into piles. Then we number ’em. Then we read ’em.
  • Norman Mailer essays. Conference drafts are due on Friday from Hannah, Lily, Jasmine, and Julia. Here’s the deal: I’m going to make these conferences optional.

Also keep in mind your Publication Project and your Lit Mag Submissions. You can and should be working on them from here on out.