Lesley MFA Program In Creative Writing: Blog Launch

The Lesley MFA Program in Creative Writing is pleased to launch Open Pages, a blog curated by program founder and faculty member Steven Cramer. Open to contributions ranging from meditations on aesthetics and politics, to personal stories about process and publication, to advice about life as a public (or private) writer, to appreciations of literary touchstones, the blog seeks to make visible the work and thinking of program alumni and faculty to readers both within and beyond the program. Please see the Letter from the Curator here for specifics about contributing a post.

The Body Politic, by July Westhale

Below is an excerpt from July Westhale’s post, The Body Politic, along with a link to the full essay.

July’s distinction between political art with and without an agenda is provocative.

What are some examples of political writing that don’t have an agenda? Also, do you agree or disagree that all art is political?


WesthaleCvrFrntJuly Westhale (’13) is the author of Trailer Trash (winner of the 2016 Kore Press Book Award), The Cavalcade, and Occasionally Accurate Science. Her most recent poetry can be found in The National Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, CALYX, Tupelo Quarterly, RHINO, phoebe, Eleven Eleven, Lunch Ticket, and Quarterly West. Her essays have been nominated for Best American Essays, as well as the Pushcart prize. She moonlights as a journalist at The Establishment, and has appeared in The Huffington Post. www.julywesthale.com 

July writes: “I myself maintain that all art is political, and that it cannot exist in a vacuum. This is true of every form of it I’ve encountered—from writing to sculpture to animation to graffiti to tattoos. And while it’s true that writing cannot exist without politics, it is also true that it can exist without an agenda.”  Click here to read the complete article.

On Writing, by Jorge Armenteros

Below is an excerpt from Jorge Armenteros’s post, On Writing, along with a link to the full essay.

Jorge argues for the value of experiment in writing.

What are your favorite works of experimental writing?

What do they offer and what are the risks involved in writing “experimentally?”

How would you describe “traditional” writing, and what are its opportunities and risks?

ARMENTEROS--the roar of the river coverJorge Armenteros (’12) is the author of The Book of I (2014 Jaded Ibis Press), an International Latino Book Award winner, Air (2016 Spuyten Duyvil Press), and The Roar of the River (2017 Spuyten Duyvil Press). His author interviews and book reviews have appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle, American Book Review, Rain Taxi, and Gargoyle Magazine. Jorge currently lives in Nice, France. There is more information in his website: jorgearmenteros.net.

Jorge writes:  “I write the books I have yet to read. In essence, I jump over the edge of tradition and throw my words up in the air hoping the wind will take them places no one else has reached. . . . Most books today land on the reader’s lap, defanged, tamed by the weight of tradition, ready for easy consumption. I prefer when the book does not offer itself to the reader like a shelled pistachio, but when the reader has to do the work of shelling through words, rhythms in prose, and the unconscious in order to savor the book.”  Click here to read the complete article.


Barking Dogs and Other Distractions, by Richard Manieri

Below is an excerpt from Rich Manieri’s post, Barking Dogs and Other Distractions, along with a link to the full essay.

Rich raises interesting questions about what constitutes originality in writing.

What does it mean to be “original?”

What keeps new work—if it’s using “stolen” material—from being derivative?

MANIERI BOOKRichard Manieri (’10) is currently deputy Opinion editor/columnist at LNP Media and lancasteronline.com in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His first book, We Burn on Friday, A Memoir of My Father and Me, is available at amazon.com. Rich’s essays have appeared in publications throughout the country including the Philadelphia Daily News and Baltimore Sun. He is a Keystone Award winner for column writing in Pennsylvania and also winner of Inland Press Association’s Editorial Excellence Contest.

Rich writes: “I search for . . . literary influences. I look for a different technique and I try it myself. . . As for ‘stealing’ from other writers, I think T.S. Eliot was mostly right when he said, ‘Good writers borrow, great writers steal.’ Eliot wasn’t talking about lifting content and making it your own. . . I’ve read and reread everything Sedaris has written. I’ve looked at how he uses humor, how he sets up a ‘joke,’ his word choices, and so on. Sedaris has been the biggest single influence on my work but no one would every accuse me of stealing from him.” Click here to read the complete article.