Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: Goddard

Mastering the Fine Arts

This post comes a day late because I’ve been a bit distracted by getting my Master of Fine Arts in Writing at Goddard College. (“You will never truly master your art, no matter what your diploma says,” they warn me.)

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After Mike’s grandma’s 100th, we went to New York for a few days (which was An Experience, and a separate blog post), then up to Vermont for my graduation. Saturday I did a ten minute reading as part of my graduation. Sunday was the graduation ceremony. I spent yesterday flying with some excitingly tight connections (sprinting across the entire Detroit airport, getting there right before they closed the door type thing). There was a lot of emotion and a lot to process, and I was almost afraid to start writing about it out because I wasn’t sure what might emerge.

First off, Goddard. For two years, I would fly across the country to Vermont once a semester, and spend a week at the campus. I’d be matched up with an advisor and and an advisory group of fellow students. I’d attend readings, workshops, and on the first Sunday of every residency, I’d watch a crop of students graduate.

So for starters, it was a bit surreal that it was now my turn. It was and it wasn’t. Since I quit my job in February, I’ve been doing more or less what I want to do: freelance design, submitting creative work, writing. I’m reaching the bit where my work must accelerate in pay or else I need a day job for the bills, but that’s all right. I’m fine with where I am. Somehow after graduation, though, it all feels a bit new. The first day of the rest of your art, as our commencement speaker, the politically-charged poet Jan Clausen called it. Perhaps that is the window through which I view my life: how much art I can make out of myself.

Goddard graduations are odd affairs. For one, there is no cap and gown, and we are not given any Silly Hats of Academia or Hoods of Pomp & Circumstance. It’s in a former hay barn, now the Haybarn Theater. There are horses across the street. There are plastic chairs and a wooden floor. And a podium, where each member of the graduating class gives a speech, or “becomes their own valedictorian” as MC and poet Elena Georgiou puts it. (Her advice to us, said in her soft British accent, was “three minutes or less, and try to avoid words like ‘fucking’ and ‘masturbation.’ She managed to keep a straight face while saying it, but then cracked up along with us. “The fact that I even have to warn you about that…”)

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When my turn came, I went up to the podium with a pack of Vertigo Tarot cards, which for which Rachel Pollack wrote the book. They’re cards about comics. Seemed appropriate. And so here is my graduation speech:

(Hold up card: The Fool)

The major arcana of the Tarot traces the archetypal journey of a fool, which in this case was me, two years ago, flying across the country to a little school in Vermont, not really knowing what to expect or exactly what I wanted to write.

(next card: The Magician)
I quickly met my personal Magician, Susan Kim, who told me that writing was like being chained together running through the snow pursued by wolves. This was heartening. Susan reminded us how important creative community was, not to mention breaking down dramatic structure into manageable, alchemical pieces.
(next card: High Priestess)
Soon enough I met my next mentor, Rachel Pollack, who was my High Priestess–transcendant in ideas, she helped me preserve the mystery of my work. From global myth to really bad puns, working with Rachel was magic. For the record, Rachel says that whenever someone asks what you’re doing with your MFA, just tell them that when you graduate, you get a ring that raises the dead.
(next card: Empress)
I could not have made this journey without all of my Empresses, those who supported me and held me through this long strange trip. The people who cared for me at residency: gave me food, shoveled the sidewalks, provided me with yoga mats and help networking my computer. My fellow students, in residency, on the Internet, and in Seattle. (what’s up Shae and Cody!) My awesome partner, Mike, who supported me in every step of this journey and totally put up with me when I was at my whiniest. My parents, who have always been supportive of both my writing and my education, meaning that I did not spend my time here writing a memoir. Everyone in this room. Many who are not.
(next card: Emperor)
As I move into the cold, regimented, Emperor world of publishing, I just have one thing to say:
Thank you.
One final thank-you that I didn’t speak in Vermont: Thanks to my writing group and blog pact buddies: Clara, Alexandria, Morgan, Laura, Kellen, and new blogbuddy Brendan, among others. They have all helped me to get through these past two years. Thank you. (Especially because y’all get to do an extra blog post this week ’cause I was late…sorry!)
Okay I lied about “final” thank-you; I am never done saying thanks to this world. But specifically, thank you to Jennifer H. for the pictures. 🙂

Back from the Underworld

…and by “underworld” I mean “drafting-heavy semester of work in which I completely ignored my blog. *cough*

So, since the world didn’t end, here’s the haps with me:

1. Finishing Grad School!

I am hard at work on my last semester of school for my MFAW from Goddard College. If you want to be a beta reader for my thesis, shoot me an email.

Also at school, I designed the interiors and cover for the Pitkin Review this go-round. Check out Chelsea Jean Warner’s exciting dinosaur picture couched in my classic design. Hooray! Also buy a copy!

2. Book design!

Designing the Pitkin fostered in me a wild, mad crush on book design. Seriously. This past residency theme at Goddard was “The Shape of the Work,”  and the reason why I love book design is that it takes the essence of what the book is about and makes it into a nice, easily grokked pieced of packaging. This TED talk by legendary and fabulous Chip Kidd totally inspires me:

Designing Books is No Laughing Matter..Ok, It Is.

If you need a hot hot cover/interior design in your life, please contact me. Aside from the Pitkin, I have designed a chapbook for the talented Seattle poet Shae Savoy, and have a few more contracts in the works, not to mention…

3. Last but in no way least, Minor Arcana Press!

Minor Arcana Press is an exciting new-ish Seattle press run by the supremely talented Evan J. Peterson. We publish mostly poetry, and mostly weirdo stuff: zombie poems! furry poems! shuffle-able poems! poems about superheroes! blatant disregard for capitalization! and other things as well.

I have officially signed on as Internal Layout Designer, a.k.a. the Hermit. So far I’m loving the heck out of it–I did the internal layout for their latest release, Zebra Feathers by Seattle poet/performer Morris Stegosaurus. I’m also working on learning how to make eBooks. Hooray!

So that’s what I’ve been up to. More to come in terms of proper blog content. I may have entered some sort of unholy pact with certain other bloggers to update every Monday by 9AM. Oh dear.

Proof of Higher Education

Dear Internet,

I went to Vermont! It was strategic.

For those of you who do not know and/or are too lazy to look two posts back where I talked about it, I am a candidate for a Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT. This means once a semester I go to Vermont for a week for to absorb arcane teachings and amazing people. Actually, I mostly hang out with the people and talk about books and stuff…there’s less absorption going on than with the teachings.

ANYWAY. I have proof that I’m doing Master’s Level Work…and by that I mean the following very silly play I wrote during residency…

Sherwood

Scene: Two desks and chairs sit on the stage, facing each other, each in their own pool of light. Each has a laptop on the desk. On the left sits ROBIN HOOD, wearing a green jerkin, skin-tight green leggings, boots, and his signature pointed green hat. On the right sits the SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM, a portly man wearing an unbuttoned navy collared shirt with a white undershirt beneath. The SHERIFF has a beer in hand and is reading a Men’s Health with a stony expression. ROBIN clicks aimlessly at his computer.

ROBIN

Next…Hi there, hotness, where are you from…oh. Really. What monastery? Yeah, that’s a little weird. No, it’s not you, there was this thing that happened when I was a kid. With a priest. Next… Maid who? You want to show me what? Oh my god, ew. Blocked.

The SHERIFF sighs and turns to the computer screen. He clicks something open.

ROBIN

Next…

ROBIN

Oh my god! Sheriff! I didn’t know you did Chatroulette!

He immediately sits up straighter and leans in.

SHERIFF

(crosses arms) Mr. Hood. I didn’t know there was internet service in the forest.

ROBIN

You only assume I’m in the forest. (raises eyebrows saucily) No, really, though, we get wireless. You don’t have any fancy tracking software, do you? You’re not going to storm the compound, guns ablaze?

He seems oddly excited at the prospect. The SHERIFF stares.

SHERIFF

I’m off duty.

ROBIN

Oh. Interesting. And who is the Sheriff of Nottingham, off duty?

SHERIFF

Same as I am on duty.

ROBIN

So single-minded, over-vigilant, and vicious, then? But not in uniform, which is a little unfortunate, I must say. I like seeing that big old ring of keys at your belt. Keys to the kingdom, and all that.

SHERIFF

You think I’m vicious?

ROBIN

Oh, I know it. (Beat.) So, no Mrs. Of Nottingham?

The SHERIFF takes a swig off his beer.

SHERIFF

No.

ROBIN

That sounds like some hurt feelings, if I’m any judge.

 

SHERIFF

You’re not.

ROBIN

(sighs) So, have you figured out where my secret forest lair is yet?

SHERIFF

You think I’d be sitting on my ass at home if I had?

ROBIN

You know, Sheriff, we used to play such devious little games, and now it seems like you hardly have the time for me. We never have fun anymore.

SHERIFF

Huh. You sound like my wife.

ROBIN

I thought there was no Mrs. Notty.

SHERIFF

She left me six months back.

ROBIN

No! Bitch.

The SHERIFF swigs his beer again and shrugs.

SHERIFF

It is what it is.

ROBIN

You know, Sheriff, I’ve never told you this, but I admire you very much.

The SHERIFF is taken by surprise. His beer freezes mid-swig.

SHERIFF

You do?

ROBIN

Kind of awkward, I know, us being enemies and all. But you just have this… animal magnetism, know what I mean?

SHERIFF

Animal? What do you mean, animal?

ROBIN

Like you’re some sort of…badger. A sexy badger.

SHERIFF

That’s dumb. Badgers don’t do shit. I think of myself as more of a wolf.

ROBIN

I could get behind that. (Beat.)

SHERIFF

Just what are you after, Mr. Hood?

ROBIN

I keep thinking how…satisfying it would be to meet an old enemy on equal ground.

SHERIFF

What, you think you could take me or something?

ROBIN

You have no idea what I could do to you.

The SHERIFF is silent and looks away from the computer for a beat. When he speaks, it’s quiet and furtive.

SHERIFF

There’s a motel on the edge of the forest.

ROBIN

Be there in twenty. It’s a duel.

Lights down on desks. There’s a brief sound of animalistic noises in the darkness as the scene changes: grunting, panting, and howling. Lights up on a bed. ROBIN is sitting in bed, on top of the sheets, wearing only his tights and smoking a cigarette. The SHERIFF is cuddled up next to him, wearing only novelty heart boxer shorts. The rest of their clothes are scattered all over the room. Next to the bed, a side table is covered in an oversized key ring loaded with keys, an ashtray, and a pack of cigarettes.

ROBIN checks to see if the SHERIFF is really asleep. He is. ROBIN grins. He carefully slides out of bed, grabs his shirt and boots, dons his cap, and slowly picks up the keys. He tiptoes to the exit, then pauses, turning back.

ROBIN

Catch you later, darling.

He blows a kiss as the sleeping SHERIFF and then leaves.

The sound of a truck roars from offstage. The SHERIFF wakes and discovers that Robin has gone. He spots the lack of keys on the bedside table. He tugs at his hair and lets out a howl of fury. He storms around the room, kicking at the bed, tearing at the sheets, ripping at his clothing. Finally he settles on the edge of the mattress and looks at the cigarette butt in the ashtray. He picks it up and twists it wistfully between thumb and forefinger.

SHERIFF

God damn it, old man. You’re such a fool.

Blackout.

 

***

 

Yep. I am totally getting an advanced degree. And using it for good. 😛

Cheers,

Anne

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