Writers At Work 10th Anniversary Event

10th Anniversary Reading and Reception
Sunday, October 21, 2007 2 p.m.
Barnsdall Gallery Theatre
4800 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles 90027
For reservations, call 323-661-5954
Writers At Work (WAW), an independent center for creative writing in Silver Lake, celebrates its tenth anniversary with a reading by current and former participants who’ve published their books. Readers will include: Sage Bennet, author of Wisdom Walk; Stephanie Hemphill, author of Things Left Unsaid and Your Own, Sylvia; Joan Kelly, author of The Pleasure’s All Mine; Cheryl Klein, author of The Commuters; Max Pierce, author of The Master of Seacliff; and Julia Salazar, author of Natural Disasters. Poet and teacher Eloise Klein Healy, whose most recent collection is The Islands Project, will present a keynote address. This event is sponsored by the Woman’s Building, and supported by generous contributions from Dylan Gailey, Sondra Hale, and Matt Knight.


Do it first

Many writers struggle to find the time and energy to be creative amidst the demands of work and family. “When I get home after work, I’m too tired to do anything but watch stupid TV,” is an often-heard lament. What I suggest is, “Do it first. Get up a little earlier and make it the first activity of the day. Give your writing your best energy of the day, before the world has filled your brain with other things.” Try it! — Terry

Dark fiction

After a long period of not having time for pleasure reading, this summer I read three novels, each of which were fairly dark. My favorite of these was Janet Fitch’s Paint It Black, which is about a young woman trying to cope with the suicide of her boyfriend. It’s a beautifully written meditation on grief, guilt and loss, but the amazing thing is the redemptive ending, which was as surprising as it was inspiring.

I’m always a fan of Don DeLillo’s work, and I had great hopes for Falling Man, his novel about a family in Manhattan trying to cope in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What’s remarkable about the book is DeLillo’s descriptions of the scene of the attack itself, both for those in the Towers and then out on the street as the Towers come down. But the novel begins to drift (albeit mirroring the lives of the characters) as we move forward in time, and DeLillo has to take us back to the scene of the attack in order to end the book. It’s also notable that the book takes us into the mind of one of the hijackers and renders his humanity.

I was in an airport ready to get on a red-eye when I picked up Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. This novel depicts the post-apocalyptic landscape we all fear, wherein civilization as we know it is completely decimated and the few survivors (the narrator is a father who is left to care for his son) comb through the wreckage trying to eek out another day. The language of this book is stunning, the images are brutal, and the vision is a little bit hopeful, but I felt cheated by the end, which seemed abrupt and too easy.


In the Poets At Work workshop, we’ve been photocopying a spread from the encyclopedia (just open the book at random and work with whatever you get.) This then becomes the lexicon for your poem; you can use any sentence, phrase, or word on the page, but you can’t add anything. My own technique is to read through it and copy down all the phrases that seem interesting to me, leaving space between each one. Then I cut them apart and begin to piece them together. The idea is not to make conventional sense, but to look for ways to get new meanings. The encyclopedia is good because of the variety of topics (I recently got a spread that included the Serengetti and the Sermon on the Mount!) Some poets stay true to the lines as written, even as they re-order them, while others go wild with splicing and re-organizing. I’ll post a sample of my own attempt below so you can see how it might work.

Cut-Up Poem #2: Sermon on the Mount

Search for extraterrestrial life:
an empty or null set.
Trickster, sky god,
lord of the desert, master of storms.

As a wild animal artist,
looking for non-random patterns,
lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses
could be matched with stones in a sack.

The Twilight Zone,
a blueprint for Christian life.
Movement has been away from linguistic unity.
Who desired to transcend it?

About the Black Death:
Intelligent beings increasingly mechanized;
many of New York’s streets
in constant shadow.

Twelve tone music,
notable for its theory of prophecy.
Two hundred species of birds: a new law of love;
notion extends into the infinite.

© Terry Wolverton, 2007