Links Galore

Apple iPhone orchestra here & Is it art? here


Reading and Writing: The Rhetoric of eBay & Amazon?


Accept credit card payments…with your iPhone

Other than using search engines to find readings/readers, the following sites are rich with content–more than we could get through in a lifetime:

Links to sites about readings:


By now you have learned a great deal (I hope) about delivering your writing on the page and how readers might respond. Readings, though, are a much different matter when it comes to delivery. Writing on the page, whether it’s an actual hard copy or its functional, on-screen equivalent, presents readers with a document that is made to last. When readers interact with these texts, they have the option to return to them again and again over time, should they so choose. As authors delivering text for the page, we should be mindful of the status of a text.

Readings, on the other hand, find a great analogy in music. What is made for the page might be compared with an album or track. It is composed by the band, revised and produced over a period of time and then delivered in a media that is meant to last, meant for repetition, like CDs or more commonly, digital music files like mp3s. Musical artists and producers collaborate on many of the same choices that writers work on individually when making a track or album, like invention, arrangement, revision, and delivery/memory. A reading then, is analogous with the recital, concert, or performance. In my opinion, the best concerts I’ve attended showcase the relationship between the performer and audience, and the less successful concerts sound exactly like the album version. In fact, at these shows, I’ve wondered why I don’t just stay home, save my money, and skip the concert.

In readings, then, I feel like it is our duty as readers to be mindful of the audience and give them something that goes beyond what is on the page, or at least, reveals our awareness that the work on the page differs from performance. A recent trend in readings, it seems, is for readers to read their work without affect, as if their mere authorly presence were enough for the audience. On the far opposite end of the spectrum are readers whose work is intended solely for performance, like slam poets, who use the page as a means to their own performative ends, dramatizing their reading for the audience. While I respect these readings and understand that it is no easy feat to perform work compellingly, I find that it is not realistic to expect everyone to perform their work in that way.

In the end, the way you perform your work has to jive with your personality, while still having that je nais se quoi, that something indescribable that makes a reading memorable for the audience. In my experience with readings, this something else that you can offer your audience comes from knowing your work really well and understanding how to manipulate your performance so that the best part of your piece stands out.

Let’s say you know you’ve got a really great line in a poem that might sound awesome read aloud, have memorable images, and also key into the conceptual core, the essence of the poem itself. In this case, you owe it to the audience to make that line memorable. If you listen closely at readings, you can often hear an audible gasp from audience members when readers who know how to deliver these kinds of lines well do just that.

For the most part, tone, pauses, and cadence will be the tactics you use to draw out the best performative elements of the piece you read. A shift in tone of voice functions to show the arc of a work you are reading. In a sense, tone of voice in readings works a lot like the literary term “tone,” the author’s attitude toward the subject tey are writing about. Pauses are equally important, and in my opinion, take a great deal of practice to get right. As you know from public speaking you’ve done, you will most likely be nervous or anxious before the performance. When you read, you will have to work against rushing through the piece you are reading, but doing this is absolutely necessary. Going back to the idea of Shklovsky’s enstrangement, the very essence of how creative writing work on its audience is by making us pause, so readers have to allow these enstranged moments of a text room to be absorbed, digested, thought on. But it is a performance, so a balance must be struck between pauses and moving forward enough to keep the continuity of the work going.

Cadence is  related to both tone and pauses. It is the way you accent your work when you read it aloud. In what parts of a reading should you speed up? When should you slow down? Should you put different emphasis on different words? How will you do this? All these things should be considered and practiced. The only way to understand what works is to practice and experiment. This is how you build a knowledge of how your work should be performed in a way that the audience can take away a memory of your work. As a friend of mine says on attending readings, “one line from a reading can change your perspective, change your worldview, change your life.” Are you up for that challenge?

Now, let’s look at some YouTube videos of readings from different genres:

These questions provide a chance for you to reflect on creative writing. Please answer these questions in a post on your blog. Your answers will not be graded for content, and there are no right answers. Please be honest.

  1. Finish this sentence: Creative writing is…
  2. Briefly describe your history or background in reading and writing creative texts.
  3. Are writers born, made, or both? Explain your answer.
  4. Explain how writing affects your daily life.
  5. What is the purpose of the creative writer in contemporary society?
  6. Will you continue to write creatively when this course ends? What are your plans?

Directions: Copy and paste this questionnaire into a new MS Word document or blog post.  Please answer the following questions as honestly and in as much detail as possible.  Your thoughts and suggestions will aid me as I revise the course to teach it again.

  1. What was your favorite writing assignment? Why?
  2. What was  your least favorite writing assignment? Why?
  3. Discuss your reactions to full-group workshops. Would you change them in any way?
  4. Discuss your reactions to small-group workshops. Would you change them in any way?
  5. Did the overall course structure (two portfolios, emphasis on invention before revision, arrangement, delivery) helped your writing practice?
  6. Would you have liked more specific instructions on genre conventions (e.g. poetry, prose, creative nonfiction, etc.) or were you comfortable with the multigenre or genre-less approach to writing? Explain your answer.
  7. Did you like having the opportunity to negotiate grading criteria? Were you able to fully participate in this process? How would you change it for future classes?
  8. Did keeping a journal and blog help your writing practice? Explain.
  9. What did you use the blog medium for (creative writing, reading response, journaling, etc.)?
  10. Discuss my performance as an instructor. Did you find the way the course was conducted satisfactory? Would you have liked the instruction to be different? Explain.
  11. Please offer some advice or helpful hints for students taking this course in the future.


I often use writing samples from past students as models in my classroom.  Please check one of the boxes and type in your name and today’s date below:

__ I give you permission to use writing samples from my English 227 portfolio

__  I do not give you permission to use writing samples from my English 227 portfolio

Print Name:­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­



Read the NYT article.

Even though making sure the writing is happening daily/habitually and is of high quality should always be our top priority, most of us will also want to attempt to get published so our work can be read. In our class, we have a captive audience of readers who are willing, and often eager, to read and respond to our work. Once class ends, it’s back to being on our own with the writing (unless y’all keep meeting with your small groups or latch on with another group or form your own writer’s group HINT HINT!), and you may find yourself getting the itch to send work out and see if there’s an audience for it.

When writing cover letters and putting together a submission manuscript for publication, pay close attention to the publication’s published submission guidelines and make sure you know what kind of work they publish. In general, it is best to be concise when crafting cover letters. I’ll bring an annotated sample to class tomorrow.

Some don’ts:

  • don’t gush about how much you love the publication (it sounds fake, and a good submission proves you like the rag)
  • don’t address the editor or editorial staff in a friendly way (calling them by their first name) unless you really are friendly with that person (odds are a reader will handle your work first and the reader will be some snot-nose grad student like me, and false familiarity makes me feel icky)
  • don’t overdo your biographical information (I’ve seen cover letters listing 70+ journals, cover letters with gushy blurbs from poets I’ve never heard of, cover letters that are philosophical or anecdotal)–overdoing it makes you appear pretentious
  • don’t send photocopies of poems or form cover letters
  • don’t send anything to a publication you would not purchase or read yourself just for the sake of trying to be published
  • don’t be ashamed to submit without any previous publications or biographical material–everyone starts there at some point
  • don’t get discouraged when the rejection slip(s) come–if you get one acceptance out of twenty submission (5% acceptance), that’s really good, amazing even

Some do’s:

  • do make sure you’ve read the publication you’re sending work to and that your work fits the bill for what they might publish
  • do list the publications and biographical information you are most proud of (it will help situate you in the in-bred creative writing world)
  • do (briefly) mention a previous relationship with the publication (i.e. you have submitted before, been rejected and possibly received a brief, handwritten note), in your cover letter e.g. “Thank you for the encouragement with my previous submission.” Often, readers will be instructed to forward these submissions straight to the editor(s) who make final decisions, bypassing initial readers (this is the benefit of having a relationship with a publication over time–they get to know you a bit, even if you are rejected a few times)
  • do make you submission neat–neatness and appearances count
  • do make your submission seem like it was made especially for that publication
  • do target a variety of publications: print and online, start-up journals, mid-range and top-notch publications
  • do utilize (but don’t exploit) connections and friendships in the creative writing world
  • do submit your work simultaneously (i.e. send out the same piece to different places) regardless of what guidelines say–life is too short to wait on readers and editors and in the age of e-mail, it is easy to notify editors if a piece is accepted and needs to be removed from consideration

Other considerations:

Envelope size does not matter, in my opinion, and the majority of submissions are in 4 1/8 x 9 1/2 plain white envelopes (two folds of submission; fold in thirds), which easily fit six pages and folded SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope). Second in popularity is the letter-sized yellow/manila envelope (no folds). Third is the mid-size envelope (one fold of submission). Personally, I like the large, letter-sized envelope because it provides the reader with a clean copy–no folds, and the submission can be paper clipped together. I think this affords me the most control over how my print submission is viewed.

For online journals, follow the submission guidelines to the letter: does the publication want submissions attached? what format (pdf, .rtf, .doc, etc.)? as one document? or one document per poem? in the body of the e-mail? do they publish formally experimental work (HTML is a killer for projective work that uses the space of the page)? do they have a style guide?

I hope this helps and provides some practical information about publishing, the business side of creative writing.

It’s hard to believe that a few days ago August became November, but it’s already time to write up the end-of-semester calendar and requirements.

Final Portfolio

The final portfolio is a chance for you to put together a collection of your best work during the semester and beyond. This process has hopefully been informed by reading a published collection of stories, poems, or essays.

Critical Introduction

When creating your portfolio, you should take into consideration a number of factors, and the critical introduction will, I hope, help to clarify these in your own mind and see if others’ readings of your work match up with what you think it is doing. In an introduction that is 600-800 words, please write about the following:

  • Conceptual Core: What is at the center of your writing? What is the essence of the work you’ve done?
  • Creativity/Originality: What makes your writing unique and uniquely yours?
  • Completeness/Cleanliness/Attention to Detail: Does your portfolio fulfill the requirements of the assignment? Is your portfolio manuscript clean and neatly produced? Does the manuscript “sweat the details” and take care of the little things?
  • Audience: In your estimation, who is your writing for generally? Who is your ideal reader, a single person who may be the perfect person to read your work? Why?
  • Genre(s): Have you written in multiple genres (e.g. poetry and prose together) in your collection or stayed in a single genre? Has this choice affected your writing? How does your writing fit with conventions of the genre(s) you write in?
  • Arrangement (form/content): What arrangement method(s) did you use? How does the arrangement enhance the conceptual core of your collection?
  • Forum: How have you chosen to present the work to the reader and why did you choose this method? For example, did you print out a manuscript in MS Word? Did you create a book, chapbook, or fascicle? Did you publish your work as an e-chap on a blog? Did you make an audio recording or CD? A video?
  • Context: What kinds of relevant experiences and encounters with people and texts influenced your collection, either positively or negatively (i.e. what’s going on in your life, either locally or globally, that you feel affected this collection?
  • Revision/Changes: What texts have changed? How have they changed? Why did you revise them in the manner you did?
  • Acknowledgements: Did anyone play a role in creating your collection that needs mentioning?

For Student Exchange (November 12):

  • Critical Introduction (see description above).
  • Collection of your best texts, ones you feel you have worked hard on and are finished (15-20 pages; maximum 25 pages; font 10 pt at minimum).

For Student Response (November 19):

  • Please respond to the portfolio you are given in letter form, approximately one page single spaced.
  • Remember to provide your reaction to this as published, finished work. We will assume this collection will not be revised anymore, so it is appropriate to describe what the collection is doing and offer summative responses.

For Instructor (November 19; please put work in dossier, folder, etc. so I don’t lose it):

  • Critical Introduction
  • Collection (printed/tangible)
  • Collection (electronic: send as an e-mail or link)
  • Handwritten journal or composition book
  • Submission stamped and ready for mailing (or bcc to cshalle@ilstu.edu if you submit electronically) mindful of submission heuristics we discuss

End-of-Semester Miscellaneous Stuff (due December 3 in class unless otherwise specified)

  • Please create a one-page, single-spaced MS Word document describing the grade you feel you’ve earned for the course with reasons why. Be mindful of the syllabus in comparison with the actual work you’ve done in the course. Please do not post this on your blog; turn it in during class.
  • Writer’s Inventory Redux: I will re-post the writer’s inventory on the class blog. Please complete these questions again, without rereading your original answers, on your blog as a last post.
  • Course Questionnaire: I will post a brief questionnaire on the blog. I value your feedback both about the content of the course and my instruction. I respect honesty, praise, and especially constructive criticism, so you can choose to complete the questionnaire after grades are submitted, if you feel the grade issue will compromise your ability to be honest. I will use questionnaire responses to revise the course when I teach it again in the future. This can be e-mailed to cshalle@ilstu.edu.


T 11/10


  • Full-group workshop response (Lisa and Ryan); last one…


  • workshop
  • portfolio assessment and criteria discussion

R 11/12


  • Portfolio prepared to swap with classmate


  • Journal or Blog Presentations

T 11/17


  • Bring submission draft (cover letter and work) to class for peer editing/proofreading


  • publishing your work
  • talking about submission do’s and don’ts

R 11/19


  • Portfolio for instructor


  • meetings with your portfolio reader
  • talking about performing your work
  • examples from the web
  • assigning food for in-class potluck and reading on 12/3

T 12/1


  • Book review posted to blog


  • more on performing work
  • “creative writing class is over but I don’t want the writing to end: ideas for extending our writing practice”

R 12/3


  • End-of-semester miscellaneous stuff


  • Class reading, potluck and dance party

In class today, you will receive a copy of a recent submission to the poetry journal I edit, Seven Corners. 7C is a solicitation-based journal that publishes Chicago poets and other poets from a liberal Midwestern vicinity. Since I solicit work, you do not have to worry about making qualitative judgments about this submission. The submission is in the order I received it (sans cover letter), but if I were arranging this, I would rearrange the submission to make it a coherent post as a group of texts (I never assume the author has done this).

You do, however, need to read these poems by Thursday, give them some consideration, and apply an arrangement strategy or strategies that we have discussed previously, both in class and on the blog.

On Thursday, when we meet in small groups, each group will discuss the arragement strategy that each person has come up with and figure out a group strategy. A designated speaker will then “pitch” the order the group decided on to the group. If the three groups come up with different arrangements, we will vote as a class on which we prefer based on the argument of the pitches.

Then I will publish that arrangement on 7C.

Rationale: For the final portfolio, I want you all to be more concerned with arranging your work as a collection of texts. I am certainly concerned with this as a literary editor, and this assignment allows you access to a real-world arrangement activity dealing with creative writing where I hope the thinking mirrors what you might do while building your final portfolio.

Links Galore

HoTT is Hot at FSU


Less for More at Public Universities


Thoughts on the Neuronovel


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)