MFA Creative Writing Program

News & Events

REEF Residency

The School of Critical Studies and the School of Art are pleased to
offer recent graduates of the MA Aesthetics and Politics Program, MFA  
Creative Writing Program, MFA Programs in Art, Art and Technology,
Graphic Design and Photo/ Media the opportunity to apply for the first
CalArts REEF Residencies. Four artists and writers (2 from each School)
will receive cost-free space in a large shared open studio from April
1st September 30th, 2015. Recipients will also receive a small award to
support their work over this time. For more details on eligibility
requirements and how to apply, download an informational PDF, here: Reef residency call- 2015-Final-1.pdf

&NOW @ CalArts

We're pleased to announce that next spring, CalArts' MFA Creative Writing Program will be playing host to the 2015 &NOW Festival of New Writing!

Titled Blast Radius: Writing & The Other Arts, the 2015 festival will be a celebration of writing that explodes the boundaries of visual art, music, filmmaking, and performance to create entirely new artistic forms. The festival will be held on the CalArts campus beginning March 25 and concludes March 28 with a keynote address by M. NourbeSe Philip.

More detais on the conference, including how to submit proposals for panels are available at the official conference site.

NEXTWORDS final Showcase @ REDCAT!

Join the CalArts MFA Creative Writing Program this Thursday, May 15, at 8:30 for our annual NEXTWORDS Showcase at REDCAT!

The graduating MFAs will present brief excerpts from their work—a selection of fiction, poetry, nonfiction and hybrid genres. Copies of NEXTWORDS, the publication representing their work, will also be on hand. Followed by a reception, the Showcase offers an opportunity to experience the exciting new writing coming out of CalArts and to raise a glass to a group of talented and dedicated young writers.

This year's readers are:

Ani Bakhchadzyan

K. Bradford

KT Browne

Joey Cannizzaro

Jade Hudson

Djinji Jimenez

Emma E. Kemp

Clay Kerrigan

Shishonia Livingston

Shana Mirambeau

James Pianka

Riley Raubacher

Diego Robles

Chrysanthe Tan

Vesta Vaingloria

Robert Villalobos

Emerson Whitney

Adriana Widdoes

The Pitch of Poetry: A Reading and Discussion with Charles Bernstein

February 6, 6pm, Butler Building #4

Join CalArts' MFA Creative Writing Program for a reading and discussion with acclaimed poet, Charles Bernstein.

Charles Bernstein is author of Recalculating (University of Chicago Press, 2013), Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions (Chicago, 2011), and All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). He has written librettos for Anne LeBaron, Dean Drummond, and Brian Ferneyhough and collaborated with visual artists Richard Tuttle, Amy Sillman, Mimi Gross, and Susan Bee. Bernstein is Donald T. Reagan Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He is co-founder of PennSound and the Electronic Poetry Center. More information

Interventions Lecture Series Continues with Bruce Robbins

January 28th, 6pm, CalArts, Butler Building #4

Join CalArts’ school of Critical Studies for a lecture and screening by Bruce Robbins, who will be showing his film Some of My Best Friends are Zionists, followed by a Q&A with Thomas Altheimer.

Robbins is the Old Dominion Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He works mainly in the areas of nineteenth and twentieth century fiction, literary and cultural theory, and postcolonial studies. He is the author of Perpetual War: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence (2012), Upward Mobility and the Common Good: Toward a Literary History of the Welfare State (2007), Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress (1999), The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below (1986) and Secular Vocations: Intellectuals, Professionalism, Culture (1993). He has edited Intellectuals: Aesthetics, Politics, Academics (1990) and The Phantom Public Sphere (1993) and co-edited Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation (1998). He was co-editor of the journal Social Text from 1991 to 2000.

CalArts Creative Writing Program Alums Receive Arts Writers Grants

We are pleased to announce that CalArts Creative Writing Program alums Travis Diehl and Andrew Berardini, have both been awarded grants by The Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program! Diehl and Berardini are two of only seven writers who were awarded in the category of Short-Form Writing for 2013.

For additional info. on the Arts Writers Grant Program and a full list of honorees, check out!

Interventions World Three: Lydia Davis

Please join us for two upcoming events around World Three of the "Interventions" Series, where our guest will be the internationally acclaimed writer, translator and this year's Katie Jacobson Writer-in-Residence at CalArts, Lydia Davis.

Tuesday, Nov 12, 7-9 pm.
Langley Hall

Wednesday, Nov 13, 8:30 pm
631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles

Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and seven story collections. Her collection Varieties of Disturbance was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She is the recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award of Merit Medal, and was named a Chevalier of the Order of the Arts and Letters by the French government for her fiction and her translations of modern writers, including Maurice Blanchot, Michel Leiris, and Marcel Proust. She is the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize.

Lydia Davis. | Photo: Theo Cote

Interventions World Two: Renee Gladman

"Is there anyone here?" I was asking about the city.

Please join us for World Two of the "Interventions" Series, as acclaimed literary innovator Renee Gladman reads from and discusses her ongoing series about the invented city-state of Ravicka.  Reception to follow.

Tuesday, October 22nd, 7-9 pm.
Butler Building #4

Renee Gladman is assistant professor of Literary Arts at Brown University. She received a B.A. in philosophy from Vassar College, and a Master’s degree in poetics from New College of California. She is the author of six works of prose, and one collection of poetry. Since 2005, she has operated Leon Works, an independent press for experimental prose and other thought-projects based in the sentence, making occasional forays into poetry.

LISA DUGGAN: "Atlas Shrugging: Ayn Rand's Erotic Capitalism"

Does the secret to Neo-Liberalism's success lie in the novels of Ayn Rand? Come hear noted cultural studies scholar Lisa Duggan unpack Rand's affective intervention into the twentieth and twenty-first century U.S. political landscape.  Enjoy a lively discussion with MFA Creative Writing Program and MA Aesthetics & Politics students and faculty as we kick off our "Interventions" visitors series.

9/24/13. 7 - 9 in BB4 Seminar Room, wine and cheese reception to follow.

Lisa Duggan is professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She is the author of Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence and American Modernity (2000), co-author (with Nan D. Hunter) of Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture (1995), and co-editor (with Lauren Berlant) of Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and National Interest (2001). Her most recent book is Twilight of Equality?: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy (2003).

Honoring a Gifted CalArts Writer

"On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend's life also, in our own, to the world."—Henry David Thoreau

Katie Jacobson

When Katie Jacobson (Writing Program MFA 2010) passed away last October, her parents, Leslie Jacobson and Jeanine Caltagirone, considered several ways to honor her growing writing prowess. “We agreed that we needed to initiate something to carry on the writing she did and carry on her name,” said Caltagirone. And they decided that the tribute should be at CalArts, where (Katie) Jacobson spent two productive years, honing her craft.

The result of their generosity is the new Katie Jacobson Writer-in-Residence Program in the CalArts School of Critical Studies. Each fall, beginning this year, a world-renowned writer will spend a week at the Institute, working with students, participating in classes and delivering a public lecture. The first Jacobson Writer-in-Residence is the award-winning, short story writer Lydia Davis, a 2003 recipient of the coveted MacArthur Fellowship and the 2013 winner of the Man Booker International Prize. Davis is a professor at the State University of New York at Albany.

"We are extremely grateful to the Jacobson family for this wonderful donation to our Creative Writing Program. Their generosity means that our students will benefit from intensive and one-to-one interaction with internationally-renowned writers, enriching the creative life of the community at CalArts in immeasurable ways."—Amanda Beech, dean of the School of Critical Studies

A Precocious Young Writer

Jacobson, who grew up on the East Coast, came to CalArts in 2008 after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Occidental College in 2007. Her mother recalls that she was interested in language, reading and writing from an early age, often with humorous results. "She read and wrote very early on, and was even writing notes at a pre-school age. I remember her writing a note to me that she would be going downstairs to watch the TV cartoon show The Littl’ Bits."

Jacobson’s mother remembers that she liked to read Francesca Lia Block and poems of John Ciardi when she was young. "Later, two favorites were The Scarlet Letter and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Katie also enjoyed the mechanics of language. When my husband asked her to explain the meaning of the Oxford comma, she did so without hesitation, but also sent us a funny illustration to emphasize the point."

According to Janet Sarbanes, chair of CalArts’ MFA Creative Writing Program, Jacobson was "very bright and a pleasure to talk to. Her writing was quirky, original, thoughtful and darkly humorous."

Choosing Lydia Davis

"We chose Lydia Davis to inaugurate the program because of her experimental impulse—having basically invented her own form of fiction, the very-short short story," Sarbanes says. "She’s a great person to bring into an innovative writing program like ours and a terrific model for students. She also has a multi-dimensional practice, which is something else we encourage in our interdisciplinary setting. In addition to being a world-renowned and prize-winning author, she’s also a celebrated translator of Proust, Flaubert and others. And finally, her absurdist sensibility and minimalist aesthetic puts us in mind of Katie—we think she would have enjoyed her visit very much."

Lydia Davis. | photo: Theo Cote

A Residency to Enrich Learning

Sarbanes says that the residency program offers a unique opportunity for CalArts students to gain special access to important contemporary writers beyond the Institute, and to discuss with them the role of literature, working methods and the writing life.

"The Jacobsons have made CalArts a tremendous gift in memory of their beloved daughter, for which we are profoundly grateful.” —Janet Sarbanes, chair of CalArts’ MFA Creative Writing Program.

"The gift also helps raise awareness of our unique, interdisciplinary creative writing program among the general public," Sarbanes says. Davis’s public presentation will take place on November 13 at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in downtown Los Angeles, and Caltagirone and her husband are looking forward to attending the event.

"We’re hoping that this goes on for years. Maybe some young writer will attend the CalArts’ program, or develop his or her work, and go on to realize a dream." —Jeanine Caltagirone, mother of Katie Jacobson


To make a gift to the Katie Jacobson Writer-in-Residence Program:

   > please click here - and under "Special Instructions", please enter              
     "Katie Jacobson Writer-in-Residence Program"
   > or, please call Jessica Cosio at 661.222.2748.

Thanks for your support!

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