Poetry & Prose Slam 2018

  • What: The Annual Poetry & Prose Slam
  • When: Wednesday, November 14th from 7:00 to 9:00PM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room SU-104
  • Why: Money, vague threats involving Mountain Dew (see below)

The Poetry & Prose Slam is upon us, looming on the horizon like a bird or a sun or a hitchhiker you’re desperately trying to avoid locking eyes with. Well, it’s too late. We see you. Sitting there, all comfortable and “mobile” in your Ford F-150s and your Toyota Priuses and your non-descript mountain bikes. Listen, either you pull over now or we follow you back to your house, tip over your refrigerator, and soak all your dish towels in Mountain Dew Code Red.

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Think of your dish towels.

What we’re trying to say here, figuratively, is that you should attend this event.

More than that, you should read and compete in this event. Bring your original and creative writing–poetry, short fiction or nonfiction, song lyrics, and any other genre we haven’t listed that you can read in about three minutes or less. Read it before our friendly, Mountain-Dew-drinking judges and guests, and then maybe win a little money. It’s not often we get paid for our creative work, after all, so take advantage.

In order to participate, you’ll need to fill out a simple entry form that you can download and print right here: Registration Form. If you forget to grab a form, no worries, we’ll have extra entry forms available at the event. The slam is open to everyone, student and non-student alike.

November Events & Highlights

With October behind us, it’s time to look at all the great November events and news relevant to CRW at GCC.

Spring classes are open and ready to be filled. We have our usual stalwarts of CRW150, CRW160, and CRW170. Plus, we also have more unique and special offerings like CRW202: Witness Writing and CRW251 – Worldbuilding. Whether you’ve taken courses with us before, or you’re thinking of taking that first step, we have plenty to offer. See our full list of offerings and course descriptions here: Spring 2019 Classes.

Our final Saturday workshop for Fall 2018 lands this weekend on November 3rd. Laura White, in all her clever glory, presents Fight Die Love: The Hardest Scenes to Write.  In this workshop, which is free and open to all, Laura will talk about scene doctoring, making sure you get the most out of your prose, be it short-form fiction, long-form fiction, or creative nonfiction.

Our annual Poetry & Prose Slam falls on Wednesday, November 14th from 7 to 9PM. Come read your work, come win some money, and come have fun at GCC after dark. The competition is open to the public, GCC student and non-student alike. There’s money on the line! Stay tuned for more details and guidelines, coming very soon.

The Magical Library writing competition, put on by the kind and creative folks in GCC’s library, ends on Friday, November 2nd. They’re accepting short fiction, flash fiction, and poetry incorporating the theme of “magical library”–all interpretations welcome, but only GCC students may submit.

The Traveler, GCC’s Arts & Literary Magazine, is still accepting submissions for this year’s issue. The Traveler accepts short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and one-act plays, but only GCC students may enter. The deadline is November 18th! For full guidelines, and to submit online, head here: Submit to the Traveler!

And not to be outdone, the Maricopa Community Colleges are holding an even bigger contest: The District Writing Competition. If you’re a student at any of Maricopa’s community colleges, you’re eligible to enter. Much like The Traveler, you can submit your short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and one-act plays. So, whatever you decide to submit to the Traveler you should also submit to the District Writing Competition! Enter here!

Know of a creative writing or artistic event taking place in November? Let us know and we’ll add it to the calendar.

Saturday Workshop – Fight Die Love: The Hardest Scenes to Write

Whether it’s Negan laying down the law with Lucille, Luke looking into Anakin’s eyes for the first and the last time, or Harry confessing his love to Sally as the New Year’s Eve ball drops, these types of scenes carry great energy and purpose, but a heavy pen can lead to unwanted melodrama or sentimentality. In many ways, fight scenes, death scenes, and loves scenes are the hardest to write, but they are so often necessary for the stories we want to tell. In the “Fight Die Love” workshop, attendees will review and emulate techniques used by writing professionals from a diverse range of genres.

Saturday workshops are free and open to the public. Entirely unimpressive refreshments will probably be provided.

  • What & Who: Fight, Die, Love: The Hardest Scenes to Write, with Laura White
  • When: Saturday, November 3rd from 10:00AM to 12:00PM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
  • Why: Because it’s the last Saturday workshop for Fall semester, and you need one last fix to tide you over until February!

Course Spotlight: CRW202 – Witness Writing

As everyone goes through the process of determining their Spring schedules and registering for classes, we’d like to highlight some of our special creative offerings. The first course we’d like to spotlight is CRW202 – Witness Writing. This is an online course, taught by Kimberly Williams. View the flyer below for more information, and contact Professor Williams for questions, or if you have any trouble registering.

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Writerly Advice: Stegner’s Seven Rules of Writing

Wallace Stegner is perhaps the best short story and novel writer you’ve never heard of – even more unusual for you AZ students, perhaps, because he wrote often of the Southwest. His novel Angle of Repose won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize. Another, The Spector Bird, won the National Book Award in 1977. His short stories were collected in 1990; three of them won O. Henry Prizes. (His literary agent at the time infamously told him to quit writing short stories before he used up all his “openings and closings” – sadly, Stegner followed her advice).

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Wallace Stegner

Most importantly for us creative writers, Stegner founded the Stanford Writing Program in 1945 (I’ve heard it said mostly in response to his objection to what he considered harsh techniques employed at Iowa Writer’s Workshop). He continued to teach at Stanford until his retirement in 1971. Graduates of that Stanford MFA program include Wendell Berry, Edward Abbey, Harriet Doerr, Tillie Olsen, Raymond Carver and Larry McMurtry. Stanford carries on Stegner’s legacy with the Wallace Stegner Fellowship, a prestigious award and position given out to writers at all stages of their career, without degree requirements or concern for genre. If you’re serious about your writing, view the link above and maybe set a goal for yourself.

Stegner “came of age” in an era when not many people thought you could teach or be taught creative writing (a good blog subject in and of itself?). In his short book On Teaching and Writing Fiction, Stegner offered these seven “rules of thumb” for writers (pp. 94-95):

  1. Start in the middle of things; start in motion.
  2. Stay in motion by not letting the summary intrude; keep the summary feeding into the scene in hints and driblets, by what Ipsen called the “uncovering” technique.
  3. Never explain too much; a reader is offended if he cannot participate and use his mind and imagination, and a story loses much of its suspense the moment everything is explained.
  4. Stay out of your story; pick a point of view and (especially in the short story) stick with it. Nobody has less right in your story than yourself.
  5. Don’t show off in your style. The writing should match the characters and the situation, not you. This applies as well to obscenity and profanity as to other matters. Where character and situation call for them, they belong; elsewhere they may be a sign that the author is trying to catch someone’s attention.
  6. Nothing is to be gained, except a breaking of the dramatic illusion, by attempts to find substitutes for the word “said” in dialogue tags. “Said” is a colorless word that disappears; elegant variations show up.
  7. Stopping a story is as hard as saying goodnight. Learn to do it cleanly, without leftovers or repetitions.

I suggest you print these out and hang them up in a prominent spot in your writing area.

I did.

PS. Stegner’s eighth rule? “Revise! Revise! Revise!” (He says the difference between a good writer and a great writer is their ability to revise their own work and make it better.)

Looking for more writerly advice? Come to our next Saturday Morning Workshop, tomorrow (10/13) from 10AM to noon. Jayme Cook talks tension, atmosphere, and genre writing.


This post was contributed by Gary Lawrence, one of GCC’s English and Creative Writing faculty. Gary teaches online CRW courses for us, including CRW170 (Introduction to Fiction Writing) and CRW270 (Intermediate Fiction Writing), both of which he’s prepping for Spring 2019. View his courses, along with our other CRW offerings, here: GCC Find-A-Class.

Saturday Workshop: Tricks & Treats of Genre Writing

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Feral cat, looming cheese curd, night

October is an important month. There’s Halloween, Oktoberfest, both National Pizza and Pretzel Month (not to be confused with National Soft Pretzel Month which, as we all know, is in April), National Kick Butt Day (which, sadly, seems more about kicking bad habits and not about, you know, kicking actual butts), and who can forget National Feral Cat Day which follows closely on the heels of National Cheese Curd Day, and how October has the wonderful internal contradiction of being both National Caramel Month and National Dental Hygiene Month, and then there’s the classic National Transfer Money to Your Daughter Day, and National Writing Day on the 20th and National Bologna Day on the 24th and…

What was I talking about?

Right, well, now there’s another important holiday: National Come to a Saturday Morning Creative Writing Workshop Day. We have the perfect choice, too, as Jayme Cook dives into genre writing and offers strategies and activities for building suspense, developing mood, and creeping out an audience.

  • What & Who: Tricks & Treats of Genre Writing, with Jayme Cook
  • When: Saturday, October 13th from 10:00AM to 12:00PM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
  • Why: Because the day before was National Pulled Pork Day and you need to work off some calories.

Writing Competition: Magical Library

The GCC Libraries seek your creative writing submissions on the theme “Magical Library.” Enter your flash fiction, short fiction, or poetry submissions for publication on the GCC Library website and a small prize. What is “magical” to you, and how might magic manifest (either literally or figuratively) in a library setting? Let your imagination loose! All genres welcome. The deadline is November 2nd.

To review the full submission guidelines, and to submit online, head here: https://guides.gccaz.edu/creativewriting/writersconnect


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The Traveler Literary Contest Open for Submissions

Did you know that frogs, like birds, have migratory patterns? It’s true. Each year, as summer gives way to autumn, frogs travel north. Sometimes for business meetings, and other times for academic conferences and awards ceremonies and predatory debt collecting and spas and definitely-not-extra-marital-affairs. Did you hear that, Diane? Definitely. Not. Extra. Marital. Affairs. You’re being ridiculous. Call the hotel.

You might be asking, what do frogs have to do with The Traveler–GCC’s Arts & Literary Magazine, which is now open for submissions? Nothing, but there’s one in the flyer.

And the frog has a suitcase.

And the suitcase has wheels.


Traveler Flyer 18c approved-1

Writer’s Quote: Killing Your Darlings

“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”

— William Faulkner.

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William Faulkner

What does it mean to kill your darlings? Well, first, what is a darling? A darling is something that interferes with the relationship between you and your audience. It’s a part of your writing (could be a line in a poem, a paragraph in a story, or an entire chapter in a novel) that doesn’t do the work it needs to do but, despite this, you love it and refuse to edit it out.

All writers are guilty of harboring darlings. It’s the line that someone told you had such a nice ring to it. It’s the character trait that is pulled from someone you know in your own life. It’s the pop culture reference that only you and your friends “get.” As fun as it is for us writers to read and re-read these darlings, as much as they make us smile, we have to remember the writing is not for us, not unless it’s a diary. And if the writing is for someone else, an audience, we must be attentive to its purpose, what effect it is designed to have on the reader. Does the passage advance the plot, does it build the character, does it enhance the reader’s sense of setting? No matter how long the work is, every line in it has to “do” something. If you’re not sure what the line is “doing” but you just like the way it sounds, it might be a darling. And as fun as they are for us to read, they fall flat for our audience and thus interfere with whatever else we are trying to communicate to them. Good writers become “good” by being ruthless in their determination of what really “works” on the page and what doesn’t.

But isn’t writing supposed to be fun? Do we have to be ruthless all the time? Darlings persist when there is ambivalence on the author’s part about who a piece of writing is for. If the story is akin to a diary entry, if it will only ever be read by you, then you can have as many darlings as you want. But if it’s for anyone else, then you have a duty as a writer to consider your audience’s expectations (often based on genre) and their desire for entertainment (this cuts across all genres.) As authors we certainly don’t want to pander to audiences, but we can’t afford to ignore them either. Your writing is the machinery that delivers your dreams, your ideas. Darlings are the pretty little flowers that get stuck between the gears.

Click here to read more about weeding out your darlings. This author has suggestions for how you can preserve them, to some degree, if you can’t quite bear to kill them entirely.

Have you ever killed a darling? How did it feel?


This post was contributed by Jeff Sanger, one of GCC’s English and CRW faculty. In addition to periodically contributing thoughtful posts like this, he is also planning to facilitate our first Saturday Morning Workshop for Fall 2018. That workshop will take place this weekend, September 8th, from 10AM to Noon on GCC Main. Read more about it here: Who Are Your Characters?