Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Writing for Social Change: Presentation and Workshop Samples


Not Chick Lit, but not Dick Lit either: Creating a new literature for young male readers that doesn’t treat them as gun-toting brutes, yet can still compete with videogames (T, S)

Jeff Kass

This presentation will explore the work of fiction writers and poets who attract male readers without pandering to stereotypes. How can writers expand the range of issues males wrestle with beyond sports, guns and cars with excessive horsepower? How can they question what it means to be male in the first place in a way that doesn’t set up a false dichotomy between sensitive guy and frat boy, latté-sipper and Nascar fan? We’ll look at how writers choose details and make choices in language, style and tone to create a literature for males that’s not only engaging, but also thought-provoking and emotionally charged.

Required Reading:

Stories: Junot Diaz, How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl or Halfie from Drown

Lewis Robinson, Officer Friendly from Officer Friendly

Davy Rothbart, Lie Big from The Lone Surfer of Montana Kansas

Jim Daniels, United States Street Football from Mr. Pleasure

Jeff Kass, Drowning Superman and On the Case from Knuckleheads

Poets: Roger Bonair-Agard, Patrick Rosal, Kevin Coval, Jim Daniels, Ross Gay, Mike Moriarty, Tim Seibles

* Note * contact me @ and I will send you a PDF of the packet of poems.

Additional Suggested Reading:

Novels: Richard Russo, The Risk Pool

Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor

Adam Mansbach, Angry Black Whiteboy

Jonathan Lethem, Fortress of Solitude

Steve Amick, The Lake, the River, and the Other Lake

Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Starting the Avalanche: Remembering War, Genocide, Conquest (S)

Fred Marchant, Willa Schneberg, Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

Poetry is a subversive act. It is a vessel of remembrance against the tide of war, genocide, and conquest. This panel will discuss poetry in relation to the human questions of militarism and peace-making.  Drawing from their recent work and the work of poets they admire, these poets will address the aftermath of war, genocide, and conquest ranging from Europe to Southeast Asia to the Americas. Fred Marchant was one of the first Marine officers during the Vietnam War to be honorably discharged as a conscientious objector (C.O.). He is also editor of Another World Instead, William Stafford’s collection of poems written in World War II C.O. camps. Willa Schneberg was a U.N. District Electoral Supervisor and Medical Liaison Officer during Cambodia’s first “free and fair” elections after the Khmer Rouge killing fields. Cindy Williams Gutiérrez is a re-imaginer of the Aztec oral tradition and preserver of the pre-Conquest art of “floricanto.” Join these political poets as they explore how writers committed to remembering actually re-member the past to create a new future.

Required Reading:

Frances Payne Adler, Debra Busman, and Diana García (editors), Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action Writing, poem: “Luna Llena” by Linda Lopez and “Allegory” by Rafael Campo

William Stafford, Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford 1937-1947, edited by Fred Marchant, poems: “CO’s Work on Mountain Road,” "Prison Camp,”

“Shall We Have That Singing,” “Mr. Conscience,” “The Sound, Summer 1945,” “Deep

Listening" and “Meditation”

Suggested Reading

Peter Everwine, Working the Song Fields: Poems of the Aztecs

Carolyn Forché, Against Forgetting

Cindy Williams Gutiérrez, the small claim of bones (forthcoming: Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe/Arizona State University, 2012) [Note: excerpt currently available at]

Melissa Kwasny & M. L. Smoker, I Go To The Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights

Miguel León-Portilla, Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World

Fred Marchant, 1) Full Moon Boat 2) The Looking House 3) Tipping Point (The Word Works, 1994)

Jerome Rothenberg (editor), Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe & Oceania

Willa Schneberg, Storytelling in Cambodia

William Stafford, Every War Has Two Losers

Unveiling the Words; Reading Women Writers of the Middle East

Reza Jalali

When Shahrazad, known in the West as Scheherazade, of famed the Thousand and One Nights stories, on her wedding night, offers to entertain her husband, the King, by telling stories to escape the fate of the many virgin girls who lost their heads the morning after, she gives birth to a tradition of storytelling where women to this day would weave and tell stories to survive.

Shahrazad’s descendents, the women writers of today’s Middle East, battling censorship, oppression, and injustice, are busy creating art that warrants attention. In this presentation we’ll read and discuss the writers whose work can be a source of hope and inspiration for us all. 

Required Reading:

Karim, Let Me Tell you Where I’ve Been (PEN Anthology of contemporary Iranian writers, and poets)

Pauline Kaldas and Khaled Mattawa (Editors) Dinzard’s Children (Anthology of contemporary Arab American fiction)

Suggested Reading:

Forough Farrakhzad, Rebirth (a collection of poetry by one of the most well-known Iranian feminist poet and filmmaker)

Hayan Charara, Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry

Laila Halaby, West of the Jordan: A Novel  

Mozaffari and Karim Hakkak, Strange Times, My Dear (Anthology of contemporary Iranian writers, and poets)