Join Team Renegade!

Calling all literary citizens -- writers, poets, and readers!

The Renegade Writers’ Collective is currently recruiting members for our Street Team to spread the word about our events and happenings. Help us advertise around Burlington, Montpelier, and/or Middlebury, and receive a free one-year membership.

Spend 2 days putting up flyers in the community, (the days must be spread one month apart) and earn an Individual Writer Membership:

            -     A 10% discount on all classes

-     Unlimited use of RWC’s daytime writing center and reference shelves during open office hours, including wi-fi and coffee.

-     Unlimited membership in Renegade Reads, RWC’s official monthly book club

-     Free postings of your publications and writing-related news on our blog

-     Discounts at local book stores, coffee shops, restaurants, and more

OR

Spend 4 or more days advertising, and you will receive the Literary Citizen

Membership, which includes (in addition to all of the benefits of the Individual Writer Membership listed above.):

            - One free half-day class of your choice

            - One free 30-minute critique of up to 25 pages of a work in progress

What does a day of advertising entail?

Pick up flyers, posters, or other materials from the Renegade Writers’ Collective office at 47 Maple Street, Suite 220, Burlington. Then put them up in as many coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, and bulletin boards you can find.  Keep track of your days and drop-off locations and start reaping the benefits!

To become a Street Team member, email: renegadewritersvt@gmail.com

With the subject headline: Street Team

Be Most Excellent

A guest post in the Gertrude Stein Blog Series by Leesa Cross-Smith.  

We all want to praise the things we love. If I could capture the feeling I get when I read something I love or see something I love or hear something I love, it would look like sparklers and firecrackers, it would taste like suckers dipped in ginger ale. I do wish I could bottle that feeling, spray it all over me, carry it around in my purse. When I read a book that moves me or an article/essay that makes me put my hand to my heart or a poem that makes me remember exactly what my grandmother's kitchen smelled like on the hottest day of the summer, I want to praise it. I want to talk about it. I want to tell other people about it. I want to track down the other books by the author, the literary magazine that published the essay, the small press that put out the book of poetry. And there is so much good stuff out there, it's wonderfully hard to keep up!

People like Win Bassett, Kima Jones, Justin Daugherty and Jill Talbot make it a bit easier. Kima does this thing on her Twitter where she writes “Just read _____” and she links to the article/essay/story/poem. Sometimes she comments, sometimes she doesn't, but it's a really good way to see what is new and out there. Win's Twitter feed is a heavenly literary news aggregator with all kinds of links to all kinds of different things. He's also behind the Bull City Press Community Roundup Blog that highlights some of the literary happenings of the week. And Justin and Jill always keep their Twitter feed full of good, good stuff!

Something else I do is write the author of whatever it is I love/am excited about. I've made it a habit to reach out to the authors whose work I adore. Even when I'm intimidated! I try to at least tweet at them or send them a quick email to let them know I read their work and enjoyed it. Just a little thank you note for sharing their heart/thoughts/ideas.

My husband and I run a little literary magazine called WhiskeyPaper and over on the Twitter feed, I try to keep up with all of the super-talented contributors we've been lucky enough to publish. I have created a separate list for the WhiskeyPaper Family and try my best to shout out the new things our contributors have out in the world. It's delightfully exhausting...having too much good stuff to read. Having a big stack of books next to my bed and being frustrated because I love them so much I can't decide...it's a lovely problem for me to have. I feel blessed by it.

Literary citizenship can look a lot of ways but I like to think of it as simply spreading the love. Sharing. Encouraging. I'm a big believer in the idea that there is plenty of room for all of us and a little something for everyone out there. Everyone has something to teach and something to learn. And we all play a part. That goes for how we treat one another when we meet on the street, as well as how we promote one another/buy each other's books/reach out to one another.         

My friend, Georgia, who also deserves a yay literary citizen shout out has a radio show called Mr. Bear's Violet Hour Saloon that comes on Boston Free Public Radio from 8-9 on Tuesday nights. She reads stories, plays music, shares goodness from the literary world. And my friend, Sean H. Doyle, who is an awesome person and an awesome writer, as well, has a great habit of saying “I am trying to love myself more.” And I think about that a lot. Let's all try to love ourselves more. Let's also try to love one another more, support one another more, be good to one another more. Books, literary magazines, traffic, the lines at the grocery store...it all matters. Let's be most excellent literary citizens and let us be most excellent creatures of the Earth planet. Indeed.

Leesa Cross-Smith is a writer from Kentucky. Her debut short story collection Every Kiss a War is forthcoming from Mojave River Press (April 2014.) Her work has appeared in places like Midwestern Gothic, Carve Magazine, Word Riot and SmokeLong Quarterly, among others. She and her husband run a literary magazine called WhiskeyPaper. Find more at LeesaCrossSmith.com.

New! The Renegade Writers' Collective and the Writers' Barn in Shelburne are working together!

Now, members of the Writers' Barn in Shelburne and past participants in their writing classes are eligible to receive a 10% discount on all RWC classes by emailing lin@windridgebooksofvt.com for the discount code!

This means that RWC members may also receive a 10% discount on classes at the Writers' Barn.  Send us an email at renegadewritingvt@gmail.com for the promo code. 

It's win-win! (Never stop learning.)

Where Are the Wild Things? (A Meditation on Literary Citizenship)

A guest post by poet Maureen Seaton in the Gertrude Stein Blog Series:   

Last spring I created a course entitled, simply, “The Book.” It was over a year in the making, and I had all kinds of reasons for wanting to teach it, but mostly I planned to try two radical exercises with my students: have each one write a book of fifty poems in four hours (they were appalled at that idea, of course), then make artist’s books out of them (they liked that one a lot). Along the way, I thought it might be worthwhile to discover how we all felt about “the book” these days—on screens, in print, as artifacts in flux, so I and my eleven student writers set off on our adventure. And although I’d never heard, or at least registered, the term “literary citizenship,” that’s exactly what we ended up experiencing—and it all started with the woebegone volumes in our library’s infamous Mezzanine.

You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next…                                                                            

            You can find all kinds of brilliant esoteric and ephemeral books in the Mezzanine, yet there they sit, shoulder to shoulder in their controlled climate, pining away with no readers to appreciate them, year after year, as the elevator passes by on its way up to flashier floors with sexier call numbers. It’s rumored that even poetry stands a better chance of being checked out by students than the ghostly inhabitants of the Mezzanine.

…You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. ~Ray Bradbury

             One day, in wisdom born of loving books, our Special Collections director suggested a project for my class that involved treating some of those long-forgotten volumes to a lift—not a face lift exactly, more like a lift of the books’ spirits, to be interpreted and implemented in any way we liked. She led us to the Mezzanine and instructed us to choose one book each to read, rescue, and restore in some non-invasive way (no writing in book, for example).

            One student filled a small handmade chest with treasures that echoed her book, then tucked the volume in at the base of the chest. Another extended his book astonishingly into a handmade typewriter with poems spooling from the top. One wrote touching letters to the characters in her book. One inserted short memoir pieces from her life. One hand bound a huge stack of loose oceanographic reports, adding provocative text based on research. I chose to write poems in response to my book, printing them on vellum and inserting them in palimpsest fashion in what I came to feel was truly “my” book: A Bibliography on the Avocado (1500-1950), four-hundred plus pages on el agucate. Involvement with our books became personal for us all, and as exciting as it was to place the transformed books back on the shelves for someone to find (or not find) in the future, it was difficult to let them go.

             Book was there, it was there. Book was there. ~Gertrude Stein

             How many books did we treat to a new look, a contemporary interpretation, a saving read? Fewer than a dozen? And where are they as we speak? Well, right back in the Mezzanine. But something is different. You can feel it on the way to the upper floors. It’s like a cross between an Edgar Allen Poe story and a runway full of light in the Mojave. Those books are alive.

            Speaking of light, this past year was my grandson’s first Hanukwanzmas, our family’s holiday miscellany of spiritual expression, and we did it up brightly as usual with a symbol all our holidays have in common. Luminaria, firelight (seven candles, nine candles), lights that change color (the baby loved those best, as he loves anything that repeats infinitely), and, of course, solstice “inviting back the light” light. 

            Word and book. Light and book. Light made book.

            When I was young I was taught by idealistic nuns (it was the sixties, after all), and we started each year off with breaking in our new schoolbooks. We’d open them gently and smooth out the pages little by little so that the spines would stretch, not split. So that future students could use them, of course. But I literally thought books were sacred—that reading them, much less writing them, imbued a kind of sacred responsibility. Those nuns. Screwing us up with their high-minded rules one day; passing along the idea that we could actually make a difference the next.

            When, as a child, I wrote my name for the first time, I knew I was beginning a book. ~Edmond Jabès            

            My literary citizenship feels two-pronged to me, a dual citizenship as writer and reader. I want what I write to posit good stuff in the world, like Muriel Rukeyser’s transfer of human energy or Audre Lorde’s conviction that what is most important…must be spoken. This may be from those idealistic nuns again, but I’m old now, and this is what I believe possible. In researching books I plan to read to my grandson, I see there are numerous children’s authors out there who really love kids (and animals and the planet). I write poetry for adults, obviously, but I’m a sucker for kids and animals and the planet too. (See my future essay subtitled: “I’m a Sucker for Kids, Animals, and the Planet.”)

           My readerly citizenship looks a little different from my writerly citizenship, but I still hope to bring a bit of expansion into the larger cosmos through my own small sphere. For me personally, this means reading outside my comfort zone, reading another language besides English, picking up work by authors of other genders and cultures; and, something I really try to remember in my baby-boomerish Woodstockian oft-dumb superiority: trusting in young people—even if the way they read doesn’t look the same as the way “we” did it. Because, barring disastrous circumstances, I truly believe nothing can stop a reader.

          My friend Mia, a poet, memoirist, mom, and teacher, often all on the same day, was weeding out the family bookcases last summer and asked a few of her former students if they’d like some of the bounty. Who wouldn’t, they said, so Mia handpicked books for each of them and sent them off in the mail. For one, Ashbery, another, Cisneros, another, Maso, another, Hughes. She asked me if I’d like some children’s books in Spanish for my grandson, then sent me two dozen pre-loved treasures, including my favorite of all time, Donde Viven los Monstruos.

            Where are the wild things? you ask.

            They’re in the Mezzanine, of course.

            

Note: Thanks to Cristina Favretto, Mia Leonin, my University of Miami students, Amy, Benjy, Damara, Eleanor, Essy, Hallie,  Hiram, Jen, Lex, Madeline, and Patrick, and to my family for being the light-bearing literary citizens they continue to be in my life of books. 

seaton.jpg

Maureen Seaton has authored seventeen poetry collections, both solo and collaborative— most recently, Fibonacci Batman: New and Selected Poems (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2013). She has received numerous awards, including two Lambda Literary Awards (for lesbian poetry and for lesbian memoir), the Audre Lorde Award for lesbian poetry, the Iowa Poetry Prize, an NEA, and the Pushcart. She teaches poetry at the University of Miami.