Hey amazing mammals–I just wanted to open up a space for discussion about any of the readings and thoughts from this weekend. And if you want more links or strange things, drop a comment. Or tell me what you’re thinking.

I, for one, am still thinking about how Andrew Nadeau tweeted the following, giving us a sentence structure that feels like the beginning or the end of a story:

“If you wear a falconry glove to the park and frantically look around the sky everyone with a small dog will leave.”

I love writing so much. And I love reading yours.


  1. John Van Wagner

    Hi Alina. I did tack on a bit too much response to your comments on my Day 1.
    I love Diane Willliams and am addicted to my puzzlement over her writing, as what she does is so unique and unquantifiable, it is fundamentally alien. It is that kind of new that gets called ugly at first, then seeps in behind the ears when one nods off. It may be a disguised form of conversational collage about all that one already ‘knows’ by sideglances and nonverbal cues and therefore does not have to express. I have been reading her side by side with Rosmarie Waldrop. Rosmarie is one to think about. “Curves to the Apple”, “Driven to Abstraction”, “Dissonance –if you are interested”. On another stack on the other side of the desk sit Krazhnahorkai and now, thanks to you, Sokolov. It is all too much and not enough, just like this workshop. Thanks for stirring things up.
    …Nadeau’s fertile tweet seems like it *is* the story and needs nothing.

    • Alina Stefanescu

      Great way to describe Williams, Len. I seek her out and study her. And I love NOON, the journal she founded so much, because it tends to carry that kind of writing.

      Love Waldrop as well–as both a translator and writer and theorist. Grateful to stir things up and will do it till I die. 🙂 It’s a joy to know you’re similarly committed.

  2. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Hi Alina. Thank you for the rich references. I love Herta Muller – “In the Land of Green Plumbs” has been in a special place in my bookshelf for a long time. Haunting, as is a video of her made after the Nobel Prize. I’m not sure whether it was on YouTube or where I saw it, but her relationship to words, to no words, her depiction of a life alien to writing, to thinking in words, and then to the thousands of words cut from paper and scattered everywhere in her room in Germany after escaping Ceausescu’s regime Romania– a singular writer! Thank you for the references that are now on my list of “musts.”

  3. Adrian Frandle

    Hi All – loving the readings and wanted to recommend Judith Schalansky’s book “An Inventory of Losses” – it’s the sort of cabinet of curiosities approach to literature that feels harmonious with our discussions and writing. An excerpt from the Preamble (itself a wonderful word to position a prologue):

    While I was working on this book, an archivist at New York’s Shaffer Library found in an almanac dating from 1793 an envelope containing several strands of gray hair belonging to George Washington; a hitherto unknown Walt Whitman novel and the lost album “Both Directions at Once” by the jazz saxophonist John Coltrane came to light; a nineteen-year-old intern discovered hundreds of Piranesi drawings in Karlsruhe State Museum’s collection of works on paper; a double page of Anne Frank’s Diary which had brown paper pasted over it was successfully deciphered; the world’s oldest alphabet, carved in stone tablets 3,800 years old, was identified; image data were successfully reconstructed from photographs taken in 1966-67 by the Lunar Orbiters; fragments were discovered of two hitherto unknown poems by Sappho; ornithologists recorded several sightings, in a Brazilian tree savanna, of blue-eyed ground doves which had been presumed extinct since 1941; biologists discovered the wasp species Deuteragenia ossarium, which builds multichamber nests in hollow tree trunks for its young, placing a dead spider ready in each chamber as a source of nutrition; in the Arctic the wrecks of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror from the ill-fated 1848 Franklin Expedition were located; archeologists in Northern Greece unearthed an enormous burial mound, the final resting place of probably not Alexander the Great, but possibly of his companion Hephaestion; Mahendraparvata, the first Khmer capital, thought to have been the largest settlement of the Middle Ages, was discovered close to Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia; archaeologists working in the necropolis of Saqqara happened upon a mummification workshop; in the Cygnus constellation, 1,400 light years from our sun, a celestial body was found, in a so-called habitable zone, on which the average temperature is similar to that of Earth, meaning there may or may once have been water there, and hence also life, such as we imagine life to be.”

  4. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Adrian, Thank you for the above recommendation. As you say, the preamble alone worth a cabinet of curiosities. Judith Schalansky’s work to my “to read” list. And John, I am always taken with your reading recommendations. Thank you.

  5. John Van Wagner

    Q: with a fledgling draft of a 3-objects piece submitted, a question occurs to me: do you — does anyone here— have compelling sources to do with writing what I’d call ‘extended spaces’? I have quite a few in mind, but would be pleased to learn of other such dwelling places for uncanny writing. Kafka’s “The Burrow” is one, or “Investigations of a Dog”; others occur plentifully in early Beckett, scenes breaking off from the through-line of the Molloy-Malone Dies-The Unnameable trilogy, and I can see it in Krazhnahorkai but can’t pinpoint because I haven’t yet read enough. These tend to be obsessive spaces full of rolled-up and unscrolled prose with an essentially poetic energy. It’s the between-space I generally write in, a poetry that is ‘lengthened’ until it looks like prose, or, a possessed prose so concerned with a single, extended, rhythmic breath that it is indistinguishable from poetry. As distinct from, say, the “prose poem”.

      • John Van Wagner

        oh yes, I know your K piece. Ashamed to say I know nothing about K, more than what Wikipedia delivers (though somewhat familiar with H and W and S and D). Rummaging around trying to discover what the hell “ahoretia” could be, stumbling on Constantin Noica was inevitable, and wondering if there are translated portions around of his “Six Maladies of the Contemporary Spirit”.
        I will also be on the lookout for Ander Monson. I think some of Nathalie Sarraute could come into my search.

  6. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    John, Take a look at Anne Carson’s “Float: Variations on the Right to Remain Silent.” It’s series of pamphlets. No words for the wonder of it. And maybe Clarise Lispector’s, The Smallest Woman in the World,” and some of the shorts within the story, “Dry Horses.” Let me know if any of these fit, especially the Carson.

  7. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Alina, I have posted three pieces, a day 1, and 2 day 2 pieces no response but one, for one of them. Would you mind glancing at them, if you have time? Nonetheless, the ability to correspond here as well as the work given by you and the work of others here has been inspiring. Thank you.

    • Alina Stefanescu

      Dear Martha, I’m moving through each in order of posting. I’m trying to take the time to think about them. I think I did comment on your post from yesterday and I’m currently working on today’s. Sometimes I’m a faster thinker and sometimes I mull. 🙂

      • John Van Wagner

        Here is a very slow writer and constant, obsessive muller (also an instrument, often made of glass, for grinding pigments). But to genuinely and carefully give something to another’s writing, doesn’t it have to be?

  8. Lisa Alletson


    I have no questions but my brain is both full and now expanding with your teaching, prompts and feedback. I’m thrilled to have this reading material along with your commentary, as I haven’t done an MFA.

    This has been a brilliant experience. I understand the site will be up for a few days so I can spend time reading the work of other participants and downloading the material.

    Thank you,

  9. John Van Wagner

    To everyone: thanks! I’ve had a great time, though the way it started off I thought I’d be attending my own funeral. Seems it’s often like that, but with all your help I’ve been able to swim back to the surface. Help you didn’t even know you’d given, eh? (Hint: it’s in the words). I’m sorry I’m not going to be able to get comments to all of you in the second round, but I’m fading, fading. If these stay up, maybe I’ll be able to over the next couple of days. Hope to ‘see’ you ‘around’.

  10. John Van Wagner

    thought I would leave this if anyone needs to contact me outside of the community page here: john.van.wagner@gmail.com; ig: @johnvanwag; twitter: @johnvw_sf.
    I have pretty much decided I am not going to be submitting my writing for publication anywhere, (I’d rather just write) but I am building a website as a repository for the bodies: past, present, and future. That site is johnvanwagner.com and currently shows only a cheery “Coming Soon!” I am working on it.

  11. Jenne Hsien Patrick

    I enjoyed this weekend so much – I too feel like there is so much to soak in that I am looking forward to rereading and revisiting. Alina thank you so so much for this wonderful adventure, I am really looking forward to reading more to many new to me authors and also the prompts – so generous! Thank you!!!

  12. Todd Clay Stuart

    I just wanted to say what a pleasure it was sharing this space with everyone these last few days. I hope to get the time to read and comment on everyone’s work these next few days, as well as catch up on the rich reading material Alina has prescribed. If anyone wants to stay in touch, feel free to follow me on Twitter @toddclaystuart. Also, I have a link on my website that lists a bunch of upcoming flash/poetry websites put on by a variety of well-regarded writers. Thank you all!

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