ASFA-CW Seniors Collaborate with ASFA Dance Seniors!

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For the past several school years, ASFA-CW seniors have teamed up with seniors in the Dance department’s choreography class to create collaborative pieces that incorporate language and movement. In some ways, the two creative processes — dance and creative writing — couldn’t be more different. One takes place in a mostly solitary and interior way; the other occupies three-dimensional space, invariably in coordination with other artists. And yet this project never fails to expand and refine our notions of what it means to be a creative person. While our primary aim with this exercise is to foster that sort of expansion in our respective processes, it’s always a treat to see the “(semi-)finished” products the students create. This was the first year we invited all the other students in both departments to the culminating presentation, and it was a smash success — proven by the slideshow above, which commemorates the occasion. #Collaboration! #CreativeRisk!

Alabama Poet Jeanie Thompson to Visit ASFA-CW on November 10!

jeaniethompson

Meet University of Alabama Press author Jeanie Thompson

Thursday, November 10, 2016 | 7:00 pm
ASFA Lecture Hall & Lobby

Join us for a spellbinding reading and reception on Thursday evening, November 10, in the Alabama School of Fine Arts’ Creative Writing Lecture Hall. As part of the Ron Casey Visiting Writers’ Series, Jeanie Thompson, poet and educator, will entertain you with excerpts from her latest book, The Myth of Water, Poems from the Life of Helen Keller. At the reception immediately following the reading, enjoy an array of tempting treats, accompanied by a refreshing, infused water bar, as the author signs her newest book.

Poet Ben Gunsberg to Visit ASFA Next Thursday, October 6

Ben Gunsberg, poet and a prof(essor), will be visiting ASFA-CW next week as a part of our Ron Casey Visiting Writers’ Series. He’ll be reading from his recently released chapbook, Rhapsodies with Portraits, and conducting a masterclass with our seniors on the chapbook as a form. We’re excited to have him. To whet the appetite for his visit, here’s a snazzy multimedia version of his poem, “I Didn’t Understand How to Erase Our City,” produced for the Utah Division of Arts & Museums! The reading will start at 1:45 p.m. and will take place in the ASFA Lecture Hall.


The Ron Casey Visiting Writers’ Series was established at ASFA by a generous gift from the family and friends of Mr. Casey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and editorial page editor at the Birmingham News. Mr. Casey dedicated his life to using the written word to educate others and inspire a more humane, more critically aware society. All Casey readings are free and open to the public.

A Poem by Mark Neely

The South

There’s a giant map on my bedroom wall
where I pin yellow and red tacks
to show the lands I’ve conquered—the little towns
in Mexico, the grim airport of Dayton, Ohio . . . Geography
has been hard on me. I wanted to live
beneath a mountain, or in New York or London,
to spend time underground, but ended up
instead in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with only
a dusty closet to hide in during storms.

I learned the efficacy of an artful lie, and sat around
with lolling men in plastic chairs, watching the tomatoes grow,
bickering about such universal subjects
as football and the weather. Smoke poured from the rib joint
like a message and the fat man said,

I keep eating these they’ll never fit me in my morgue drawer.

The hickory and grease and vinegar was a miracle
with a sweating can of Miller. Some nights the rain
was warm as bathwater. Blood
crawled in my veins like poisoned roaches. And by God
it didn’t matter if your plane was bound
for the domes of heaven
or the steaming maw of hell,
you’d be stopping in Atlanta first.


“The South” appears in Mark’s second poetry collection, Dirty Bomb (Oberlin College Press). It’s republished here by permission of the author. Mark will be reading with the poet Lauren Goodwin Slaughter as a part of the Ron Casey Reading Series. The series was established at ASFA by a generous gift from the family and friends of Mr. Casey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and editorial page editor at the Birmingham News. Mr. Casey dedicated his life to using the written word to educate others and inspire a more humane, more critically aware society. The reading is free and open to the public. It will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 5, and it will be held in the ASFA Lecture Hall. A reception will follow.

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