Feed on

How often do you write? That’s a question I would rather not answer. How do you write? Now that’s something I can tackle.

I look for things that sound odd. Listen for stuff that looks weird. The other day when I was in the airport the PA system was looking for a McKenna Reed, asking them to come to the water fixture to meet their father. Two things struck me-

  1. Why not just call it a water fountain? Is it against airport law to call a fountain a fountain? Were they trying to impress their supervisor or coworkers?
  2. I wished I was McKenna Reed because it’s been awhile since I’ve seen my own father.

Thus the announcement made it into my little black book, along with the time I had spread olive oil on a pan in the shape of the USA and some ruminations on the inescapable solitude our human lives made while sitting in a mostly inconsequential lecture.

That was just part one. I’m putting you to sleep, aren’t I? Perhaps this man from Bangor can do you better.

Gregory Howard will read Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at Hammes Campus Bookstore on Notre Dame. The reading begins at 7:00 PM. It is free and open to the public.

Gregory Howard teaches creative writing, contemporary literature, and film studies at the University of Maine. His first novel Hospice was published by FC2 in June 2015. His fiction and essays have appeared in Web Conjunctions, Harp & Altar, and Tarpaulin Sky, among other journals. Hospice follows the odd and lovely but also frightening life of Lucy, everyday neighborhoods become wonderlands where ordinary houses reveal strange inmates living together in monastic seclusion, wayward children resort to blackmail to get what they want, and hospitals seem to appear and disappear to avoid being found. Replete with the sense that something strange is about to happen at any moment, Hospice blurs the borders between the mundane and miraculous, evoking the intensity of the secret world of childhood and the distressing and absurd search for a place to call home.

In his essay The Object is Always Magic: Narrative as Collection, Howard shares his perspective on creating stories. Collecting miscellaneous oddities including a rusty saw and glass eyeballs has prepared him for the life of a writer. The mess he made created fragments and juxtapositions of objects, which are where stories are born. The collection of junk is fleshed out into literature through precision in language that surprises, strangeness that comes out of what is habit. All this is possible through the difficult act of what Howard calls paying attention.

So come on down to Hammes on the 8th of March to experience the story-making magic that hides behind every detail and fragment. If enough people show, I’ll even post part two of my experiences in writing. Maybe.



The idea of the Renaissance man has captured my imagination since the first time I heard of it, flitting in and out of my mind every now and then during idle moments. Removes a malignant tumor in the morning and completes an oil painting of the patient by lunch. Cooks a authentic Italian pizza made with homegrown ingredients and wins every game of Scrabble. Speaks English, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, German, Chinese, Algebra and Dog. Blessed with super writing and super reading! Able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound!


I’m getting there. I can jump higher than my house. If you seek the company of a polymath, just give me a decade or two. Feeling impatient? Check out our next reading.

Michael Collins will read Wednesday, February 22, 2017, at Hammes Campus Bookstore on Notre Dame. The reading begins at 7:00 PM. It is free and open to the public.

Michael Collins is the author of ten works of fiction. His work has been translated into seventeen languages. His novel The Keepers of Truth was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the IMPAC Award. Other novels have won The Irish Novel of the Year, The Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Award, along with the Prix Littéraire Lucien Barrière. His short fiction has won the Pushcart Award for Best Fiction, and he is the recipient of numerous New York Times Notable Book of the Year Awards. Collins is also an ultra-runner. As captain of the Irish National 100k Team, he earned a bronze medal at the 2010 World Masters 100k Championships in Gibraltar. Notable wins include The Everest Marathon, The North Pole Marathon, The Antarctic Marathon and the Sahara Marathon. Collins was educated at The University of Notre Dame and Oxford University and holds a doctorate degree.

He’s a man that not only runs over mountains, fields of ice and snow, and dunes of sand, but miles of them with record-setting speed. With that same spirit he’s written book after book to a reception of rewards and accolades. How does he do it? What links his running and writing? Can he beat you at Scrabble? Find out on February 22.



Float a boat. Wear a hat. Bloom a flower. A little origami never hurt anyone. My favorite was the frog. You would hold and release its posterior and it would jump, nothing like the amphibian it was modeled after, but it still sailed through the air and there’s no challenging that fact. What use are cranes? Being lucky doesn’t cut it when you’re in my shoes, fingers in the slits of the fortune teller. Where have they all gone? Did we bury them in the garden, in the sandbox, place them askew on the water fountain or benches with peeling green paint?


Now paper planes are for writing on or typing on. Our digits bend words through time and fold languages. I’ve read that translation is but a crooked mirror. I’ve heard some call it a crime. If it is indeed evil, then let us be glad that gulf shall not separate these three poets of Montevideo from us.

Luis Bravo, Javier Etchevarren and Virginia Lucas will read Wednesday, February 15, 2017, at Hammes Campus Bookstore on Notre Dame. The reading begins at 7:00 PM. It is free and open to the public.

There will also be a Question & Answer Session with the poets hosted by Johannes Göransson in Room 119, O’Shaughnessy Hall, at 2:00 PM on the same day.

Luis Bravo has published ten books and recordings of poetry since 1984, including Árbol Veloz, a referential work in Latin American multimedia poetry; Tamudando, a multiphonic concert recorded live at Zavala Muniz Theatre in Montevideo; Areñal /ene topos bilingües & other sounds, along with the poet John Bennett; and Lichen (bilingual Spanish-English), translated by William Blair & Pablo Rodríguez Balbontin. Bravo’s poems have been translated to English, French, Germany, Swedish, Estonian, Portuguese, and Farsi. His most recent poem published in English is “The voice”, translated by Catherine Jagoe (Drunken Boat, 2016). His most recent book of essays is Voz y palabra: historia transversal de la poesía uruguaya 1950-1973, which received an award from Uruguay’s Ministry of Education and Culture. Bravo participated as a Fellow in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 2012. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Notre Dame.

Javier Etchevarren is the author of the poetry books Desidia (Yaugarú, 2009), Fábula de un hombre desconsolado (Yaugarú, 2014) and Fable of an Inconsolable Man (Action Books, 2017), translated by Jesse Lee Kercheval. His poems have appeared in in the American Literary Review, the Los Angeles Review, Drunken Boat, the Notre Dame Review, the Colorado Review, and in América invertida: An Anthology of Younger Uruguayan Poets (University of New Mexico Press, 2016).

Virginia Lucas is a poet, editor, and literature professor. Her books include the poetry collections Épicas marinas (Artefato, 2004) and No es de acanto la flor en pie-dra (Lapsus, 2005). She is Literature Director of the National Office of Culture at the Uruguayan Ministry of Education and Culture and Research Coordinator of Queer Studies Montevideo. Lucas’s Amé.RICA, translated by Jen Hofer, is forthcoming from Litmus Press. Her work also appears in Earth, Water and Sky: A Bilingual Anthology of Environmental Poetry (Dialogos Books, 2017).

Something else that I’ve learned is while people tend to focus on the distinctions between different cultures and languages, it can be more valuable to see how they are similar. To return to what is common and core for humanity and what they choose to create. Come join us on February 15th, to not only enjoy what is unique but also what we share as familiar strangers. You will become a frog.



Sometimes I wonder, why couldn’t I have been a fictional character? My clumsy use of English would be replaced with a language of snappy, snarky lines in response to other silvery tongues. Even if I were forced to stammer or say something foolish, at least it would have been intentional. There would be no more awkward conversations and silences – except when they’re necessary. Outwardly and inwardly, I would be glamorous. Or ugly, but “ugly” in a manner constructed to channel the sympathies of the audience. Even if I died, I would live. I would suffer for art.


What could possibly go wrong with an existence locked behind a screen, or defined by black squiggles on white paper? Well, OK, there are certain authors whose characters I don’t envy, and one of them comes for you.

Kyle Muntz will read Wednesday, February 1, 2017, at Hammes Campus Bookstore on Notre Dame. The reading begins at 7:30 PM. It is free and open to the public.

Kyle Muntz is the author of five novels: Scary People (2015, Eraserhead Press), Green Lights (2014, Civil Coping Mechanisms), VII (A Novel): The Life, Times, and Tragedy of Sir Edward William Locke the Third: Gentleman (2012, Enigmatic Ink), Sunshine in the Valley (2011, Civil Coping Mechanisms), and Voices (2010, Enigmatic Ink).  Excerpts and other pieces of his have also been published in Gone Lawn, Step Chamber, The Journal of Experimental Fiction and Fiction International. His work incorporates elements of science fiction and fantasy along with elements of the avant-garde. Muntz is interested in the literature of aesthetic and ideas. He is a game designer and writer for the character driven RPG, The Pale City.

What aesthetics and ideas inform dirty pirates, abusive relationships, accidental profundity, heart-stealing demons and existential dread? You’ll have to wait until Februrary 1 to find out. You won’t see me in that book.


So begins a new year and a new era of reading series. How should we proceed? To move forward we must also look back at who we were and what has made us. Generations smile at each other. We stand on the shoulders of our elders but bear their weight to form an impossible human tower that still stretches out into the horizon. Once in a while, we look back and up to reaffirm these bonds, their solemn weight.

The Ernest Sandeen Memorial Reading commemorates the poet, scholar and teacher, Ernest Sandeen. A distinguished senior poet is invited to give the reading and selects a younger poet to read alongside him or her, thus honoring both Ernest Sandeen’s accomplishment as a poet and his many decades of mentorship at the University of Notre Dame. In this spirit, Claudia Rankine has invited Solmaz Sharif to read with her on Thursday, January 26, 2017, in McKenna Hall Auditorium at Notre Dame. The reading begins at 7:30 PM. It is free and open to the public.

Additionally, there is a Q&A with Claudia Rankine at 3:30 PM on the same day, in room 100-104 McKenna Hall. Like the reading, everybody is welcome to attend and learn.

Claudia Rankine, the recipient of a 2016 MacArthur ‘genius’ grant, is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; and numerous video collaborations. She is the editor of anthologies including The Racial imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind and America Poets in the 21st Century. For Citizen, Rankine won the Forward Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the NAACP Image Award. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry.

Solmaz Sharif holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, and others. The former managing director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, her work has been recognized with a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, scholarships the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a winter fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, an NEA fellowship, and a Stegner Fellowship. She has most recently been selected to receive a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award as well as a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. She is currently a lecturer at Stanford University. Her first poetry collection, LOOK, published by Graywolf Press in 2016, is a finalist for the National Book Award.

Through reexamination of our souls, their pedestals, and the chamber they stand in, our words gain painful weight. For the sake of the future, we must carry those burdens and seek out new ways shoulder them from the old. This act of remembering will not be wishful nostalgia. Sandeen, Rankine, and Sharif will guide us like they have been guided so that we may guide others.



Where will you be at the end of the semester? Perhaps this an accurate portrait (give or take some hair/fur).


But it’s not over yet. If you’re a student, you got those finals and papers keeping vigil before the new year. If you’re not, you got those not-a-student end of year ordeals. Either way, we’re all stumbling over the finish line towards the next season of this race. Fortunately, I bring something to breathe life into you (and it’s not Christmas coming early).

Taeyin ChoGlueck, Luis Lopez-Maldonado, and Tania Sarfraz will read and perform their poetry and prose on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, at the Hospitality Room of Reckers on Notre Dame’s campus. The reading begins at 7:30 PM. It is free and open to the public.

Taeyin ChoGlueck is the co-founder of Stage for Change, a non-profit group that puts unheard voices that question identity, inclusion, and difference on the stage. Her most recent play, The Pink Pope, is a feminist satire featuring a female God dealing with a Purgatory full of misogynistic men who reject Her, and a split church led by women on earth. Recently, Taeyin has found herself writing about menopausal super heroes, virgin ghosts, and ajummas. In her spare time, she eats up Korean webtoons (that may or may not star menopausal super heroes, virgin ghosts, ajummas, and menopausal supervirgin ajumma ghosts). Did you miss The Pink Pope? Now’s your chance to make up for it.

Luis Lopez-Maldonado is a Xican@ poeta, choreographer and educator. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Dance from the University of California Riverside. His poetry has been seen in The American Poetry Review, Cloudbank, The Packinghouse Review, Public Pool, and Spillway, among many others. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in Dance from Florida State University. He is a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Notre Dame, where he is poetry editorial assistant for the Notre Dame Review, and founder of the men’s writing workshop in the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center. He is also co-founder and editor at The Brillantina Project and founder of Humans of The University of Notre Dame. Luis’s reading will focus on violence as performance, and explore the hybridity between poetry, choreography, and audience. His works will contain themes relating to the darkness in America we all know: the mass shootings, the racism, the sexism, the homophobism, and the hate, among others. Plan to be disturbed. Prepare to hear erotic, beautiful language. Get excited to experience the world premier of his new contemporary dance solo: Silence Is Violence.

Tania Sarfraz received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Brown University in 2014. She won the Weston Senior Prize for her short fiction collection, Betrayal & Other Stories. She recently acquired a sentient hotdog on a skateboard, but due to legal issues it remains to be seen if Tania will bring it to the reading. It is entirely possible it has been eaten already. Such is the life of a hotdog.

But forget about franks. Let us all gather to on December 7 to reflect upon 2016 and gaze towards the trials and possibilities that await us in 2017. Come hear the voices of bright minds to clear your own, or fill it with inspiration.



Approach with footfalls soft as a kitten’s nose. Art is the delicate process of making craters. To breathe upon them adds carbon dioxide to the equation. It is a stone age tradition that drinks fresh blood. It is the sum of all shadows that cast a human. Do not be obvious, oblivious, obedient, observable, objective. Be obscure, obnoxious, obstructive, observant, obscene. We will bring the hammocks for the revolution. Align your nightlight through any means necessary. This water fountain is bitter.


Did you deny your bruises? Then we’re ready.

Kelsey Castaneda, Bailey Pittenger, and Sarah Snider will read their poetry and prose on Wednesday, November 30, 2016, at the Hospitality Room of Reckers on Notre Dame’s campus. The reading begins at 7:30 PM. It is free and open to the public.

Kelsey Castaneda received her Bachelor of Arts in 2014 from Georgetown College, where she studied English and Classics. She spent a summer studying Creative Writing in Prague, and a semester at Oxford studying Shakespeare and Ovid. Most recently she took a gap year and taught English in Slovakia through the Fulbright Program. For three years, Kelsey was the Student Editor of Georgetown College’s literary magazine, the Georgetown Review, and her poem You Are Constellations was published in the magazine’s very last issue for spring 2015. She dreams of becoming a Greek siren with her own personal chorus of cats.

Bailey Pittenger studied English with focuses in Women’s and Gender Studies and Creative Writing as an undergraduate at Wake Forest University. She continued her studies at Wake Forest University for a Master’s degree in English, in which she focused her thesis studies on techniques of experimental form used by contemporary Caribbean and Caribbean-American writers and a creative manuscript of science fiction stories inspired by Old English elegies. She will be introduced by Abby Burns (one of our new Prosers) and introduce Sarah. Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night, to the eternal question, “What is Bailey’s thesis project?” Now you can find out.

Sarah Snider graduated from Yeshiva University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and minors in History and Women’s Studies in January 2012. Since then, she has worked in a variety of nonprofit jobs in areas including disaster relief, community outreach, volunteer coordination, feminist advocacy, university student activities, and Holocaust survivor outreach. Sarah will be reading a creative nonfiction piece about living and breathing within the sub-subculture of American Orthodox Judaism. Her work covers issues surrounding gender, family, religion, and culture, but attempts to do so with a desperate insertion of humor and in a pleasantly fragmented fashion. Sometimes she insists that she writes fiction also, just to remind herself that she still can.

Come as you are. You do not need to be alright. Bring everyone including your shovel. That is not an order. Everything will become a halation.



Does anyone know what a Wunderkammer is?

I see you have your hand raised, Wikipedia.

Cabinets of curiosities were encyclopedic collections of objects whose categorical boundaries were, in Renaissance Europe, yet to be defined. Modern terminology would categorize the objects included as belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art (including cabinet paintings), and antiquities.”

Yes, Francesaco Fiorani?

“The Kunstkammer was regarded as a microcosm or theater of the world, and a memory theater. The Kunstkammer conveyed symbolically the patron’s control of the world through its indoor, microscopic reproduction.”

A most excellent response. Now, can someone tell me why you would title a book of poetry after it?


I guess we’ll have to ask the poet herself.

Cynthia Cruz will read Wednesday, November 16, 2016, in the Eck Center Auditorium. The reading begins at 7:30 PM. It is free and open to the public.

Cynthia Cruz is the author of four collections of poetry, with How the End Begins (2016), The Glimmering Room (2012) and Wunderkammer (2014) published by Four Way Books, and Ruin (2006) by Alice James Books. She has published poems in numerous literary journals and magazines including the New Yorker, Kenyon Review, the Paris Review, and the Boston Review, and in anthologies including Isn’t it Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger Poets (2004), and The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (2004). She is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. Cruz teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College while pursuing a PhD in German Studies at Rutgers University. She has previously taught at the Juilliard School, Fordham University, the Rutgers-Newark MFA Program and Eugene Lang College. Cruz earned her BA at Mills College, her MFA in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and her MFA in Art Writing & Criticism at the School of Visual Arts. She and has published essays, interviews, book and art reviews in the LA Review of Books, Hyperallergic, Guernica, The American Poetry Review, and The Rumpus.

So what are the boundaries of Cruz’s poetry? What memories has she collected? How is the world controlled and recreated within her poetics? There is no need to answer now. This is all homework, due November 16. Do come if you don’t want to flunk.



“I’ve been here for a couple of months now, enough time to eat a barrel full of oranges or train a barrel full of monkeys. I’m trying my best with all that citrus fruit but I can’t seem to find any simians. All I have are squirrels. And chipmunks and bunnies, but they have kept their overwhelming fear of humanity.”


“I wonder about them. The squirrels. Is it proof of superior intellect that they recognize most humans don’t pose a threat? How long has it been since they allowed these lumbering, clothed giants to enter their personal space? Is it genetic or is it learned behavior? Has research ever been conducted by ND biology students? Do you love me?”

We interrupt our unscheduled programming for an important message from our sponsors.

Thomas McGonigle will read Wednesday, November 9, 2016, at Hammes Campus Bookstore on Notre Dame. The reading begins at 7:30 PM. It is free and open to the public.

Thomas McGonigle is the author of novels The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov (Dalkey Archive/Northwestern University Press), Going to Patchogue, (Dalkey Archive), and St. Patrick’s Day: another day in Dublin (University of Notre Dame Press), which received the 2016 Notre Dame Review Prize. His poems were published in Arena (Dublin), Poetry Ireland, The Gorey Detail (Ireland), Broadsheet (Dublin) and Screw. His prose was published in various forms in Bomb, Arts Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, Washington Post, The Gorey Detail, Cream City Review, The Guardian, Notre Dame Review, Art in America and Bookforum. McGonigle is an alumnus of University College Dublin, Beloit College, Hollins College and Columbia University. He worked as a foot messenger for Maple Vail Book Manufacturing Co, NYC for 24 years and taught creative writing at Rutgers University and New York University. McGonigle continues to teach at the City University of New York. He is the founder and editor of Adrift Irish and Irish American Writing.

“By his skillful use of modernist techniques he gives the ‘Irish Novel’ a long outstanding and much deserved kick up the arse into the twenty-first century.” So says Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, former Ireland Professor of Poetry, on his review of St. Patrick’s Day: another day in Dublin. That is high praise indeed, and everyone should come to McGonigle’s reading to learn how to kick some arses. I think I’ll start with punting campus squirrel studies into the 21st century.



On Writing a Blog About Lily Hoang’s Reading
By Moonseok Choi

I trust all of you
have had that moment
curiosity grasps your heart and mind
before Facebook, before Internet
(was there ever such a time)
when research becomes but an excuse,
reading accompanies guilt and secret
yet you skim it once
from the random page it opened on
move backwards
then forwards
close the book, open it
from dedication to acknowledgement
to construct a full reading
out of fascinated peeks of surgical precision,
to enact a one-sided love
mere humans do not deserve.


Yeah, A Bestiary was really good. I might read it again. Poem’s over, by the way. But Lily Hoang‘s reading isn’t. She will read Wednesday, November 2, 2016, at Hammes Campus Bookstore on Notre Dame. The reading begins at 7:30 PM. It is free and open to the public.

Lily Hoang is the author of five books, including A Bestiary (winner of the inaugural Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s Nonfiction Contest) and Changing (recipient of a PEN Open Books Award). With Joshua Marie Wilkinson, she edited the anthology The Force of What’s Possible: Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. She is Director of the MFA program at New Mexico State University. She serves as Editor at Puerto del Sol and for Jaded Ibis Press. Hoang is interested in narrative in its many guises, whether it is a traditional short story or conceptual experimentation. Although her books have been labeled as “experimental” or “avant-garde,” what she loves are narratives, the ways in which a story can happen and influence the reader. She is active in small press publishing and Internet writing communities.

Hoang influenced me alright. I felt an outpouring of things that people might call emotions – pain, laughter, anger, acceptance, grief, and heart just to name a few. They manifested in a public space, where such things must be hidden up sleeves and behind brushed teeth. I’m glad to have had that secret moment, which as the constant irony of the age of social media dictates, is no longer a secret anymore. Yet a shared secret still remains a secret, even when it ostensibly should not be. So do cherish that minute of mine, and perhaps you’ll have one of your own to tell me next time.

Older Posts »