Category Archives: Profile

Place and its Effect on the Poets’ Craft

By Maria James-Thiawauvillar-performance

I am a cliché.

I admit it. The hours upon hours I would sit in cushy café chairs staring at Van Gogh prints or absorbing bebop, acoustic guitar or neo-soul over the sound of espresso beans in the grinder makes me that writer – the one feverishly finishing a manuscript in the corner of the neighborhood coffeehouse, imagining themselves the next JK Rowling.

It’s been done. The evenings wasted away talking with hipsters about all that’s hip, or snapping fingers to a favorite local wordsmith’s latest poetic rant are the moments I live for. They are a major source of inspiration, and yet, while hot mochas are indeed my muse, I still find that being a regular at the local coffee spot can get old after a while. The time comes when a poet needs to find inspiration elsewhere.

For me, that elsewhere has been France, where I took a VCCA poetry workshop in a beautiful and ancient town where you could touch, taste, and feel history everywhere.  The place was poetry, from every curved cobblestone to the floating cottonwood, the thick-hipped maternal sculptures, and the mix of smells emerging from the soap maker’s shop.  In 2015, after my second trip,  I wrote that place – its scent, its people, its food, and its influence on me, a mere visitor.

The experience moved me to ask other writers, contemporary American authors well known for their work, “In what ways does travel impact your writing?”

Here is what they said:

“I use traveling as a kind of self-exile. I’m never able to fully write about the place I live until I am away from it, trmarilyn-nelsonaveling to a place that’s new and unknown. Only then, with distance and even that little ache of homesickness in the heart, does a kind a clarity come to me. Only then do I permit myself the freedom to see what I could not see about my home/community/family, etc when I was in it. . .just one of the ways that traveling impacts my writing.” ~ Marilyn Nelson, award winning poet, translator and children’s book author.

carla-christopher-photo-credit-kate-penn-york-daily-record“Familiarity breeds apathy. Even something as simple as watching a couple walk down the street or having a cup of coffee watching the rain fall becomes a new experience when my surroundings change. Travel keeps me alive to the tiny miracles and the epic beauty of even small and simple things.” Carla Christopher, author, publisher and community activist; Former Poet Laureate of York, PA.

“I do not write overtly about the places I physically visit. And I rarely write about the places where I live. But I do know that when I am actually moving through space on a tetherless voyage, writing moves with me and in me and is touched of course by the whole of those places.” ~ Lucy Anderton, published author and spoken word artist living in France.

 “When I write on the road, I rarely write about my location. Most of my book YOU DON’T MISS YOUR WATER was written on the road, CA, Mexico and Italy, but the poems are grounded in my hometown of Rochester, NY, which is never mentioned.” ~ Cornelius Eady, prize winning poet, co-founder of Cave Canem Foundation.

marilynkallet“Travel is movement, and poetry is all about movement. I take dictation from the road, from the Garonne and the gulls. I listen for every new sound and transcribe new tastes. Travel is often lonely. My poetry is an ally and a friend, constant and porous. I’m in Paris now, alone with my notebook. It’s a consolation. My book, The Love That Moves Me, is all about being on the road, in the air.” ~ Marilyn Kallet, award winning poet, Director of Creative Writing at University of TN-Knoxville.

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Art & Activism: An Interview with Romeo Azondekon

By Daouda Bambaromeo-closeup

For IDS400 Topics in Multiculturalism,  I had the opportunity to interview an artist about art and social movements. You may know Romeo Azondekon as a college administrator, an advisor or the first director of Central Penn College’s Center for Cultural Diversity, but did you know that he is also a multi-talented artist?

His career at Central Penn College began six years ago and he has promoted diversity and inclusion through his many efforts and initiatives.  Romeo is the founder and advisor of the International Society Club, which is a diverse club with members from different countries such as the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Jamaica, Guinea, South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

Romeo is also an artist who paints, makes collages, does mixed media, and uses oils. Most of his art work focuses on texture.

He says,  “Art is like a signature to a social movement because it helps the movement leave a legacy behind for the next generation to view and reflect on the struggles their ancestors went through.”

He started painting in his early twenties. Romeo says that art in a social movement is very important because it is a way of expression. It is a powerful way to motivate people to join a movement because it unifies people and creates one unique voice. Almost every movement used art in some shape or form. Art can play a big role in a movement. Art can be in the form of music, poetry, painting, or even attire.

“I have always been passionate about art,” he says. For Romeo, like other activists, art is both identity and self-expression.

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Writer’s Profile: Bronwen Carlyle Talks About Season of Shadow

unnamedOur writer’s profile focuses on Bronwen Carlyle whose new book, Season of Shadow (The Equinox Chronicles Book 1), was recently published through the Amazon Kindle store.  Carlyle was born in Augusta and grew up in North Georgia. As a young girl, she spent time with the creatures, gods, warriors, and sages found in the pages of Irish mythology and fairy tales, and has been weaving stories ever since. She currently lives near Pittsburgh, where you can find her dreaming up worlds and writing them down.  You can visit her website at www.bronwencarlyle.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter @BronwenCarlyle.


unnamed-1First, tell us about your new project.

It’s a young adult novel that takes place in both Georgia and a fantastical realm connected to our own. It follows the story of sixteen-year-old Everly Cotton, who has grown up in foster care, as she is caught in a battle between light and darkness.

[You can watch a trailer for it here.] Continue reading

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The Professional Writer: James G. Piatt Encourages Emerging Writers to Follow Their Bliss

 

When it girl-writing-starscomes to writing, James G. Piatt sees far more than the bottom line. He sees an opportunity to do something that gives him joy. That, for him is the most important thing. “You must decide on what your goals are. If it is to make money, you must do those things which will make money. You will have to write for the prevailing audience, do heavy personal marketing, travel, make speeches, make business contacts, do loads of book signings, etc. etc.” says Piatt, a retired teacher and artist with numerous publishing credits under his belt. “ If it is to release the creative spirit in your soul, then create and be happy with the outcome.”

“Chase your dreams. Do what makes you feel worthwhile and satisfied. Life is short; Make the most of it; Spend your time doing those things that make you happy.” ~ James G. Piatt, author

By focusing on his passion for writing, James has found an audience that loves his creative work. Along with two poetry collections, thirty four of his short stories have been published.  His method is to write and revise, then send his polished pieces out to publishers. His poems and stories have been published in over 100 magazines, anthologies, and books. He says if you are doing it to make money, emulate the celebrity writer and don’t worry about literary value. But if you want a lasting voice, hone your craft and follow your heart. Be persistent and work hard, and success will come to you.  To read James G. Piatt’s creative work, see the poetry below and check out his poetic collections, here.

Inequality

I sense the heartbreaking weeping of souls
hungering for equality mirrored in their lifeless
reflections in a fading blood colored moon: The
unfortunate find hope is only a thin pallid wash
attempting, without success, to cover their
frozen moments of hopelessness.

I reflect sadly on the fervent prayers of golden-
haired angels playing poignant songs on silver
bells, hovering like burning moths over the flame
of the world’s calloused indifference… and sob:

Trying to forget the inequities, I guzzle peach
Margaritas in a sleazy bar where sad women
swing their bodies like gaudy birds. My mind
lacking reason, like the money drunk elite, feigns
to comprehend the misery of splintered
nightmares in rundown ghettos, where cheap
wine is served and hotdogs are grilled over
coals of need in a rusted garbage can, while the
rich sailing on a yacht, slurp mimosas, eat $400
a tin caviar and gobble down fresh Dolphin meat
from Madagascar.

 

Weep No More Robin Williams

Weep not Robin…
For peace comes on summer’s wings,
As bards write poems to overcome
Your sadness, they will wipe away
Tragic tears from your lonesome being,
Awaken in your heart a sudden gladness:

Weep not Robin…
Eirene’s warm embrace
Will take you to higher and
Higher splendors of peace,
Expunging the dim world of your Darkened
rhyme under the bountiful Bouquet of a rose
covered arbor:

Weep not Robin…
Eleos will break the spell of your Darkened
night, and enclose in your Heart a gleaming halo
at dawn, she will Bring into your being a blissful
delight, And into your soul, she will create a
Rebirth, and a sweet song.

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The Knight Writers! Central Penn College’s Creative Writing Club

Spring has sprung and Central Penn College’s creative writing club, The Knight Writers, is geared up for an exciting term filled with creative activities. Our first meeting will be held on Thursday, April 9th at 4:00 pm in Bollinger Hall. All are welcome.

WaltPoetryContestFlier

The Central Pen Poetry Contest!

 

The month of April is inspiring, not only because of the new sights, sounds and smells of Spring, but because April is National Poetry Month. This is the month we celebrate all kinds of poetry, from Shakespeare to spoken word. It is the time to come to Knight Writers’ meetings and put pen to paper (or text to phone, whatever the case may be!) In fact, this month students can submit their poetry to Thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu for The Fifth Annual Central Pen Poetry Contest. The first place winner will receive $100 and a membership in the Academy of American Poets. Poems can be of any length or subject matter, but must be the student’s original work. Hurry! Submissions are due April 26th. For more information, contact Professor Maria Thiaw.

April doesn’t hold the cornerstone on literary activity, however. On Saturday, May 2nd, Central Penn poets and Knight Writers will be performing at the Amani Festival, an annual multicultural festival held in downtown Carlisle, PA. The event will feature vendors, cultural acts and some of Central PA’s top performance poets including Dustin Nispel, Carla Christopher and Shaashawn Dial. The poetry section will be hosted by Maria (James) Thiaw and Corporate Communications major, Shonyah Hawkins. Poetry books and CDs will be on sale. The festival goes on from 10 – 4 but the Knight Writers are on at 12. Come out and show your support!

On June 4th, you can join us for “Take A Stand,” a theatrical production celebrating the arts. More info will be out on this event very soon. To get the first scoop on all of our activities and events, be sure to join us for our meetings Thursday afternoons at 4:00 pm in Bollinger Hall, room 51 starting April 9th!

For a calendar of Central PA poetry events for National Poetry Month, visit www.thetrianglepa.com.

Don’t just be a writer. Be a Knight Writer!

 

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

You might know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie if you have ever listened to Beyonce’s song “Flawless,” where the Beyonce sampled a portion of the author’s famous TEDTalk: “We should all be feminists” from April 2013.  The sample portion contains the most quoted part of the speech: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls ‘You can have ambition, but not too much’.”

Adichie is no stranger to tackling the tough issues when it comes to writing and politics.  In her July 2009 talk at TEDGlobal, Adichie talks about what she calls ‘the danger of a single story.’  Growing up, Adichie had only read books by British authors, and while she credits them with stirring her imagination and passion for reading and writing, they did not represent her or her native surroundings in Nigeria.  Eventually, she comes to find African literature (she names Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye as examples) that featured ‘girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails.’

Slide16However, while these narratives helped to reinforce what she knew to be true—Nigeria and Africa were places of rich diversity, complexity, culture, and history—that another, more simplified and problematic narrative about Africa and Africans was the one told around the world.  Through multiple experiences in the west, she learns about the ‘single story of Africa’ as a place of violence, poverty, hunger, and despair—images, she claims, comes from western literature and its colonial roots.

Listen and watch as Adichie creates her own narrative about the roles of reading and writing in personal and professional life and how they form narratives about peoples and places that shape our understanding of our global community.

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The Professional Writer: Introducing Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Contemporary Fiction Writer

” Something subliminal is going on when a person reads something of quality; the brain is absorbing good sentence structure, correct spelling, multi-dimensional characterization, vivid description and more without the reader even realizing it, which automatically makes for better prose.”

kps-baltimore-2013

Kristi Peterson Schoonover, fiction author

Although the heavy winds are ripping gold and red leaves from the trees, and winter’s chill has begun to set in, let’s not forget the thrills of the Halloween season. The skeletons, the zombies, the witches and vampires –Face it! it’s fun to be scared, and that is why ghost stories are appealing all year round. One writer that has found success by scaring the “bejeezes” out of readers is short fiction writer, Kristi Petersen Schoonover.poisongroundprint

Schoonover is an award-winning writer who has received three Norman Wailer Writers’ Colony residencies and was even nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize for short fiction. Some of her popular works are Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole, Bad Apple, and The Poisoned Ground. She is an editor of a literary magazine called Read Short Fiction and lives in the haunted woods of Connecticut with her ghost-hunting husband.

                When describing her work Schoonover says, “I write short stories that explore relationships in twisted, surprising ways. I play with magic realism and psychological horror on a regular basis.”

In other words, her books are the kind the make your goose bumps rise and take notice.  It only takes one look at her publication list to see that this is a prolific writer. However, she says that she does not have a set time and place to write each day. She feels most inspired in her own home office with a great movie score playing, but overall, she writes when she is moved to do so.

When asked what advice she would give emerging young writers, she says, READ! “It’s critical, but not just because it’s important to consciously study the craft. Something subliminal is going on when a person reads something of quality; the brain is absorbing good sentence structure, correct spelling, multi-dimensional characterization, vivid description and more without the reader even realizing it, which automatically makes for better prose.”

skeletons-final-front-coverShe has so many favorite authors, it was hard to narrow down the list, however, “Both Gina Ochsner and T.C. Boyle explore human emotions and relationships in fresh, original ways that haunt me long after I’ve put the story down,” Schoonover says.

This professional writer is serious about her craft. She makes time to write and expands her writing skills by reading. In addition, Kristi Petersen Schoonover puts her public relations background to use and markets her own work with the precision of a Hollywood publicist. It goes to show you that even if your degree is in another field, you can use what you have learned in your artistic vocation as well.

So if you, too, think it is fun to be scared, you will love the work of Kristi Petersen Schoonover. For more information visit www.kristipetersenschoonover.com today!

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by | November 18, 2014 · 8:36 pm

Shaashawn Dial Gives Us Another Reason to Celebrate LGBTQIA History Month

Shaashawn's Wedding Passport to Love: Perfect Pairing Ceremony 8.24.2013

Shaashawn’s Wedding Passport to Love: Perfect Pairing Ceremony 8.24.2013

From radio broadcasting to mentoring students, Mrs. Shaashawn Dial-Snowden has achieved many memorable life-changing moments. Her nickname “The Voyce” is a symbol of independency and expression that portrays how closed mouths won’t get fed. Mrs. Dial-Snowden is the goddess sent from above to teach others how to express themselves with confidence and knowledge. Her ambition and success is like no one else. Her achievements display her motto: “the sky is the limit.”  Many know Mrs. Dial-Snowden as the Lead College Advisor & First Year Experience Coordinator at Central Penn College, but that’s not all that she wrote! Continue reading

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by | October 31, 2013 · 5:01 pm