A Collection of Fools

I could render this post into some kind of recap of life since the early December previous post, but would only be boring myself.  Instead, I choose the present, the existence of the moment.
A few weeks back, I graduated with an MFA in fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College in Vermont.  I graduated with some talented writers of poetry, of fiction, of nonfiction.  This latest class of Masters to move out into the educational/professional world of letters is certainly a tropical force of talent, one that I hope whips up into a more formal Hurricane.  The funny thing is that before graduation, these fine writers began making moves in the world.  Jeffrey Perkins and Ralph Hamilton, both poets, landed a few fine poems in print.  Susan Merrell published a powerhouse short story in The South Hampton Review.  Dear friend (fiend?), Joe Stracci, received word that a no-holds-barred chapter from his novel, Whitney,  is being published in the Fall 2009 issue of The Alaska Quarterly Review.  I would mention my nonfiction counterparts, but they all seem to be publishing at such an extreme rate that I actually begin to question their truth.
By citing these accomplishments, I  zero in on the new borders and boundaries of my world.  The once safe environment of education and supportive lectures of literature are now left up to us.  It is now our duty to pursue the publications, the self-educating, the self-control to write, the duty to each other to fireman carry our friends when needed.  We must give life to our work.  Must keep our names present in the minds of readers and on the minds of critics.  We are responsible for pushing the envelope of poetry and prose.  We are the ones who in twenty years will be leading the charge of change in form and content, in vehicle of thought and execution of design.
These are the thoughts of a mind brimming with energy and a constitution of commitment.  Fight censorship.  Write with fire in your words.  Join organizations to support literature and literacy.  Go to readings.  Go to panels.  Buy banned books.  Travels to friends’ events no matter if they are in a bookstore or in a Grandmother’s basement.  Give new literary magazines a chance.  Create dialogues with editors and publishers.  Who knows what will happen?  We are how we make our words read.  We are the voice of a new collection of fools.
Last week, Joe Stracci and I were chatting and he said to me: Ross, we came home from Bennington and I checked into your blog and there was no inspirational message.  There was nothing giving me peace of mind.  And it was the fact that he mentioned this to me, something that I never knew, that he looked forward to whatever solitary thought I had at whatever time in my life, that this made a difference, well, made me think–isn’t this what writing is all about?
Keep on.
jra

About J. R. Angelella

J. R. Angelella is the author of the popular debut novel ZOMBIE: A NOVEL (Soho Press) and a contributing author to the murder-mystery anthology WHO DONE IT? (Soho Teen), benefiting the nonprofit organization 826NYC. His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals, including Sou’wester, JMWW, The Collagist, Literary Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal and The Nervous Breakdown. His short story “Sauce” won the 2012 Short Story Contest held by The Coachella Review. He received a BA in English Literature from Ithaca College and an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College. He taught creative writing at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York City and currently teaches professional writing at the University of Maryland at College Park. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, the writer Kate Angelella.
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