On September 19-22 the UW Bothell and Cascadia College campuses hosted more than just incoming freshmen. Over 400 participants convened at Bothell for the &Now Festival of Innovative Writing, hosted this fall by the MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics in conjunction with the program's annual fall Convergence on Poetics.
&Now 2019: Points of Convergence sought to highlight the ways the arts can forge convergence in times of social, cultural, and political schism. The possibility of convergence was taken up through experimental works that are themselves convergent—engaging the intersections of literature, art and performance—as well as those that use the languages of these arts to challenge the structures that constrain us.
The event featured keynotes by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, a poet and sound artist; Barbara Browning, a dancer and author of auto-fictional novels; and Nathaniel Mackey, a poet and scholar who collaborates with jazz musicians. Programming included 70 panel and performance sessions, 6 workshops, 2 exhibitions and 2 new media installations, 1 major book fair hosted by Open Books: A Poem Emporium, and 1 marathon reading on Saturday night that brought together a wide range of participants. Colleagues Chris Gildow and Jared Leising of Cascadia College installed the exhibition in Mobius Gallery, and UWB IT facilitated an interactive installation in the Digital Media Lab and a three-screen video work in Discovery Hall.
More photographs by Marc Studer documenting the event are available at the conference website along with videos of the keynotes created by alumna Alison Morton (MFA '17).
The event was coordinated by faculty member Amaranth Borsuk, currently serving as Associate Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics, with assistance from founding MFA director Jeanne Heuving and UW Seattle colleague Maya Sonenberg. Heuving also introduced Nathaniel Mackey, convened a roundtable on his work, and took part in the panel "Following theThread: Thinking and Making." IAS staff member and MA in Cultural Studies alum Mateó Ochoa supported the event in every way from preparation to completion, and IAS staff members Lauresa Babko and Miriam Bartha were instrumental in the planning and execution. MFA alumna Woogee Bae and current second-year student Ashley Noelle served as conference assistants, helping with all aspects of the event and leading a team of volunteers. Borsuk offered opening remarks together with MFA Director Ted Hiebert, and served as emcee for the evening keynotes.
IAS was also represented by faculty members Anida Yoeu Ali, who curated an exhibition by students in her early fall course Visualizing and Performing Poetry, and Naomi Macalalad Bragin, who co-led a workshop on "Writing and Embodiment" with local author Jen Soriano and who performed her work Little Brown Language together with dancers Angel Alviar-Langley and Milvia Pacheco Salvatierra. IAS and MFA faculty member Rebecca Brown was on the panels "Horrors of the Family Romance," and "Grotesquing Gender: Deforming Narrative Now" in which she shared new work. And new MFA faculty member Ching-In Chen introduced LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs and hosted and took part in the panels "Pushing Boundary: Trans, Genderqueer & Non-Binary Poets Off the Page" and "Asian/American Speculative Poetics." C.R. Grimmer, A 2017 PIP Fellow and IAS faculty member, convened the panel "Multimodal Convergence: Situating Activist Poetics Through Multimodal Collaboration," which included presentations by Jordan Havelicek (IAS) and Aaron Holloway (CS, alumni), and Jan Okemgbo (IAS).
A number of MFA alumni also shared their work, including Nicole McCarthy (’17), who spoke on the panel “Updating Bachelard: Toward a Digital Poetics of Space”; Corbin Louis ('17) and Tracy Jane Gregory ('16), who spoke on the panel "Responding to Grief and Trauma"; Brent Michael Cox ('17), Amanda Hurtado ('17), and Travis Sharp ('15), who spoke on the panel "Toward Topological Poetics, Media & Materiality, and the Impossibility of a Desaturated Media Environment"; Peter Buller ('19), who co-led a workshop; and Woogee Bae ('19) and Katelyn Oppegard ('18), who presented a collaborative performance on the panel "OPEN SYSTEMS: A Performance in Flux." Corbin Louis and Brent Cox also shared media work as part of "Ask Not What Poetry Can Do For Video, But What Video Can Do For Poetry." Sarah Baker joined in with many of these alums for the marathon reading on Saturday night.
The festival also marked the launch of Snail Trail, an ecopoetics literary journal edited by Woogee Bae, Aya Bram, and Amy Jones (MFA '19). In the words of the editors, "Snail Trail turns a curious eye toward the catastrophic violences—whether small or enormous—that penetrate our daily lives and envisions alternate possibilities, to rethink our current ecology and live collectively, consciously, and caringly together, with all our sticky residue." Incorporating both a website and a hand-bound journal made of hand-made paper, the inaugural issue includes work by Ching-In Chen, Allison Morton, and Katelyn Oppegard, among others.
Current MFA students exhibited a collaborative work created as part of Amaranth Borsuk's spring quarter class, Between Fact and Imagination: The Material Imagination. Eric Acosta, Amaranth Borsuk, Marina Burandt, Nicolas Hauser, Sabina Livadariu, Abigail Mandlin, Denise Calvetti Michaels, Ashley Noelle, Matthew Porter, Johanna Riggle Segesser, Stephanie Segura, and Nicholas Sweeney each contributed a piece incorporating fabric and text to "A Collaboration of Amateurs," a quilt inspired by the group's readings, conversations, and creative work together. Using found language from the course texts and their own writing, they created a cento or patchwork poem. The project was inspired by Barbara Browning's novel The Gift.
This vibrant gathering was sponsored by the MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics, Simpson Center for the Humanities, and the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. It was made possible by the courageous efforts of a team of MFA student and alumni volunteers, including Eric Acosta ('20), Jacq Babb ('18), Scott Bentley ('21), Aya Bram ('19), Amy Jones ('19), Sabina Livadariu ('20), Reed Lowell ('19), dana middleton ('19), Ashley Noelle ('20), Katelyn Oppegard ('18), Matt Porter ('20), Kat Seidemann ('13), Johanna Riggle Segesser ('20), Nick Sweeney ('20), Cliff Watson ('21), and Simon Wolf ('21). Additional support was provided by Sakara Buyagawan, Eva Navarijo, Trang Nguyen, Lisa Olason, and Cooper T. Sealy.
Kudos and thanks to all who participated in this landmark event!