This week, ASFA-CW’s Ashley M. Jones is one of sixteen Bash Fellows taking part in The Conversation, a three-state (MS, AL, LA) tour of readings and workshops dedicated to examining and expanding notions of Diasporic Blackness for young writers in the American South and beyond. All week, she’ll be engaging her ASFA-CW students from afar, filing field reports, exhorting them to engage some of the concepts she’s considering during the fellowship, and we thought it would be fun to let the outside world in on that exchange. Here’s Ashley’s missive from the second day of the journey. Ever and always the writing teacher, she offers up a few evocative writing prompts (some of her own devising and some from her fellow Bash Fellows) for her students back at the ASFA-CW ranch.
This week, ASFA-CW’s Ashley M. Jones is one of sixteen Bash Fellows taking part in The Conversation, a three-state (MS, AL, LA) tour of readings and workshops dedicated to examining and expanding notions of Diasporic Blackness for young writers in the American South and beyond. All week, she’ll be engaging her ASFA-CW students from afar, filing field reports, exhorting them to engage some of the concepts she’s considering during the fellowship, and we thought it would be fun to let the outside world in on that exchange. Thus, without further ado, here’s Ashley’s first communique.
ASFA-CW’s Ashley M. Jones is partnering with UAB Art & Art History professor Doug Baulos on a project investigating the language of peace and hope. In conjunction with the 2017 Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) Conference, an international gathering of academics, K-12 teachers, and grassroots activists that will be held later this month on the UAB campus, Doug is curating an exhibit entitled “RE/Present Peace.”
Having worked with ASFA-CW in the past on our 3-D Poetry Initiative, Doug knew this was a project that would not only pique our students’ interest but tap into their multiple talents. To that end, he visited with us this past Thursday and asked ASFA-CW students and faculty to use visual and textual elements—namely, the tools of printmaking, typography, drawing, and poetics—to investigate themes of peace and social justice.
The work we created will be included with that of the conference attendees and then showcased at the exhibit opening on October 27 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Project Space in the UAB Humanities Building. Ashley coordinated Doug’s ASFA visit and will also give a poetry reading and lead discussion on these themes at the exhibit opening. The event/reception is free and open to the public—so come on out and “RE/present Peace” while supporting ASFA-CW’s growing arts-activism and community-building efforts!
But wait, there’s more! To offer some further insight about the event and the issues surrounding it, Ashley took some time to answer a few questions about her involvement with the PJSA and her thoughts on the role of the arts in social justice initiatives. Here’s what she had to say. Continue reading
Mississippi poet laureate (and Ole Miss creative writing professor) Beth Ann Fennelly visited ASFA today to read from her latest book, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micromemoirs. (What’s a micromemoir? It’s a hummingbird of words, of course. It’s also a liberating invitation to write small, light, and with all your heart.) After reading selections from the book — ranging from funny one-liners to longer reflections on how powerless a parent can feel in the face of a child’s mysterious suffering — Beth Ann invited us to write our own micromemoirs and graciously shared the mic with anyone brave enough to read what they’d written. Many thanks to Beth Ann for sharing her formidable talents as a writer, reader, and teacher with us!
We came, we saw, we ripped up some privet. And, thanks to La’Tanya, Zach, and Madison from the Cahaba River Society, we learned about how invasive plant species can be so harmful to an ecosystem and why a clean Cahaba River is so important for everyone in Central Alabama. Kudos to everyone!
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
It’s time to commence the 2017-18 version of ASFA-CW! For incoming students and parents, here’s a PDF link to this year’s calendar of events. There are still a few important dates to nail down, but this is a good overview of what’s on tap for 2017-18. As always, we’re looking forward to the adventure!