Walker Mettling on the Art of Everyday Life

Upcoming Intro to Comics instructor, Walker Mettling took some time out to chat with Frequency about his approach to making.
Frequency:  I see this course as a chance for students to unlock their own creativity or even their own blocks and fears and be adventurous or experimental. When you begin a class do you have an intention or a desire for your students? 
Walker Mettling:  Well, I think there are a couple of distinct parts of the class. The first half is about drawing games, getting loose, and mind-melding as a group, so folks need to be ready to be relatively open and game. And I think that sets the vibe for the rest of the class which is a more focused on the solitary brain labor of laying out pages and a story… And I kinda tailor the second half to the needs of the group. 
FW:  Can you tell us a little bit about Providence Comics Consortium?
WM:  I co-created the PCC in 2010 for a series of free comics-making workshops at the Providence Community Libraries, and the first 6 libraries produced a 200 page book called “A Guy Fighting a Monster Out of Nowhere.” It’s long out of print but you can find it at most of the libraries. Since then we’ve made tons of books, zines, trading cards and have dipped our legs into spectacle with parades, advice booths and all sorts of other kinds of stuff. A bunch of the PCC kids have grown up to be artists and own weird art businesses in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and other places. But since comics started as a printed medium, publishing has always been a big component of the project. Lately along with perpetual workshops at the libraries for kids, I’ve been hosting a sunday morning drawing project called, perhaps ill-advisedly, “Sketchbook Church.”

FW:  I really love your egalitarian approach to drawing—it really meshes with Frequency’s own ethos. Do you remember if you always advocated for this playful, inclusive approach or if it was something you had to learn as you grew as an artist and an educator?
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WM:  Thanks! Yeah, that vibe preceded art or teaching for me.
The d.i.y. “art of everyday life” philosophy is probably the main reason I’m interested in improvisation, group drawing games, and weird publishing projects and the stuff that grows out of those.

FW:  You casually dropped into one of our conversations reading comics for the blind—I am dying to hear about that and how /if it influenced your own reading or drawing of work?
WM:  WRBH 88.3 FM is a radio station in New Orleans, colloquially called “Radio for the Blind” and they read the entire Times Picayune newspaper aloud everyday, along with the television listings, serialized readings of kids books and old time radio shows at night. When I lived down there, I would tune in because I love the radio and it was so unique. For a while, I did a stint reading a few of the “Dr. Dolittle” novels that got chopped up for the afternoon kids book slot and the guy who had read the Sunday Comics Section (for years and years) got sick so I covered for him for a few weeks. And reading comic strips on the radio is maybe the only stranger experience than listening to them. You are taking comics a super-visual medium and translating it verbally into aural radio form, which is also a strangely visual medium. But most comics are sight gags and it’s like taking a standup comedian routine and explaining the jokes. I was instructed by the engineer to laugh or approximate laughter at the end of each strip to signal to the audience that the strip ended. It probably influenced me philosophically… it’s such a strange assignment.

FW:  Comics you’d recommend to our audience?
WM:  Some might not know the alt-weekly cartoonist titan turned Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Lynda Barry.
She wrote a killer memoir/writing prompt book called What It Is that was a brilliant meditation on what images are and how our brains access, store and use them.
Also, I love the book Conditions on the Ground by Kevin Hooyman. It’s a collection of monthly comics he did for a few years, of the same name, that is heavy with philosophical questions, creatures, fatherhood, and taxonomies of various things from types of whales to space vehicles.
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A Big Thank You to What Cheer Writers Club

Thank you to What Cheer Writers Club for their generous gift of $1000. Frequency’s relationship with What Cheer started a year ago, when we began holding classes in their gorgeous space. Many Frequenters have been What Cheer regulars–checking out readings, networking at events, and some are podcasting (shout out to, Artclectic!) in their ridiculously cool studio.

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As the oldest creative writing non-profit in Providence, Frequency has been providing the affordable and inventive writing workshops for almost a decade. Currently, we are developing a new class for the common good, and What Cheer’s gift will help make that possible.

Thanks so, so much to Ann, Jodie, and Jillian for supporting Frequency and the Rhode Island /southern New England community of dedicated readers and writers!
Much love,
Rekha Rosha, Board Chair
Frequency Writers

 

Attention, Film, & A Woman Alone with Frequency teacher Victor Wildman

Long-time Frequency instructor, Victor Wildman, answered a few of our questions about  his upcoming course and using cinema to become a more attentive writer.

Victor, you’ve taught numerous classes at this point where you incorporate the study of cinema in order to stimulate student writing. This one is focused on the figure of the Solitary Woman. Do you see this course as a meditation on character, setting or both those things?Victor Wildman

“Meditation” might be the right word here in so far as it necessitates a certain openness, a withholding of judgement, a holding back, and ultimately a capacity to stand before a character, not with the mindset of an all-powerful creator, but as a witness.  It’s about learning to pay attention, to wait for things to happen, or not happen. Observing a single character in a specific cinematic setting focuses your attention in a way that allows you not only to look, but to see.

How have you noticed your courses that braid cinema with literature affect student writing?

In a number of ways. Normally, it’s been about developing certain techniques for handling material. I often have students mimic in their writing something that a film is accomplishing on a formal level. For example, for Image into Text, one of the assignments was to generate, as Bergman does in Persona, a whole piece from a selected number of individual images, and just as Bergman brings the movie projector itself into the film, to make the physical process of writing the piece an element of the text. It was also about thinking about the kinds of things that, seemingly, only film could do, and to try to do them, in a formally approximating way, in the writing. I often use film to make students more viscerally aware of form, and this often leads to writing, that while initially restricted in its means, is surprising to the reader and the writer alike. In this way students often succeed in writing something that is awake, i.e. that feelsboth necessary and real.

Is there a particular text (novel or short story) you return to again and again for its cinematic quality or cinematic attention to detail?

The novel students will be reading during the six weeks of the course, along with watching and discussing the movies and doing the writing, Carpenter’s Gothic by William Gaddis. I see this book as the perfect literary analogue to the films we will be watching in that at the center of it is a solitary female character, Elizabeth Booth, who we come to know very well, not through any dominating authorial expositional intrusions but, much more cinematically, through observation. One of the most beautiful things about the book is how intimate we become with Elizabeth Booth by paying her the respect of our attention. And Gaddis makes our comprehension of even the minutest plot points dependent on precisely this attention. Moment to moment we are forced to give it to her, for otherwise we lose the sense of the entire book.

REGISTER HERE

 

The Dramatists Guild & Frequency Writers Partner on Intro to Playwrighting

CSvich200On Friday, February 22, 2019 Caridad Svich will lead a free Intro to Playwighting class for Frequency Writers as part of the Dramatists Guild Foundation’s Traveling Masters program.  This class will be held at Ada Books from 6:00 to 8:00 pm
Caridad Svich received the 2012 OBIE for Lifetime Achievement and a 2018 Tanne Foundation Award, as well as the Ellen Stewart Award for Career Achievement in Professional Theatre from ATHE. Her play RED BIKE is the recipient of an NNPN Rollling World Premiere. She also received an NNPN rolling world premiere and a 2012 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award for her play GUAPA, a 2011 American Theatre Critics Association Primus Prize for THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS (based on Isabel Allende’s novel), and has twice won the National Latino Playwriting Award, including in the year 2013 for her play SPARK. Key works include 12 OPHELIAS, ALCHEMY OF DESIRE/DEAD-MAN’S BLUES, ANY PLACE BUT HERE, FUGITIVE PIECES, IPHIGENIA CRASH LAND FALLS ON THE NEON SHELL THAT WAS ONCE HER HEART and JARMAN (all this maddening beauty). She is also a theatrical translator, chiefly known for translations of the plays of Federico Garcia Lorca.
Workshop is free, but registration is required, as enrollment is limited to 12 participants.
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We are looking for a few good people

Are you or someone you know interested in arts administration? We are looking for an Operations Director and Communication Assistant. Both positions are volunteer with a possible stipend.

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OPEN POSITIONS: Please send cover letter and resume by February 22nd to artisticdirector@frequencywriters.org

Operations Director: Oversees the daily operations of the organization while working independently and with stakeholders to plan Frequency’s long-term operational development. The Operations Director will work the Treasurer to compose and monitor the organization’s budget. They will also oversee the organization’s compliance, communications, marketing, space administration, and records and information management. With Artistic Director, creates and manages fundraising activities. This position is largely volunteer, with a possibility of a stipend. Work is done remotely, with 1-2 in-person board and staff meetings per month. Work time averages 6-10 hours per week. The ideal candidate will be local to Providence RI, have a passion for writing and community education, will be a thorough and organized administrator, and will be comfortable working with people of all ages and identities. Full job description here: Frequency Writers Operations Director full job description

Communications Assistant: helps to generate content for website, social media, and newsletter, manages website updates; familiarity with wordpress and paypal preferred, manages data for students, course registration, payment, and correspondence, table various events; approximately 4-5x per year, perform other administrative tasks as needed, team player as this position works closely with Artistic Director & Operations Director, mostly work from home; with occasional f2f meetings, 15-20 hrs per month with possible stipend.

Student Spotlight: Aishvarya Arora

f9506998-5152-4cbb-8b29-aae04b026a2dThe Writer

I am a first-generation, Indian American immigrant and this subjectivity is vital to all my work. In my poetry, I strive to name and interrupt the ongoing erasure of language, history, and memory that can occur during assimilation. I use poetry as a means to develop an Asian American political consciousness.
Who are you when you aren’t writing?
When I am not writing, I am doing clinical psychology research, and I am passionate about increasing access to mental health treatments in diverse communities.

 

The Writing Community

I took the open poetry workshop with Erica Mena last winter! I hope to take more classes this spring.
What stuck with you, and why?
Erica’s class was a wonderful experience. It was the perfect balance of flexible yet structured…always pushed students to consider how power and identity are at play in writing–and I was so grateful for this! We were challenged to read and think about some truly meaningful texts, and provided with some thought provoking, process-oriented writing prompts. I have a full time job and when I didn’t have time to produce new work, I was still encouraged to share existing writing with the class for workshop. 
 
How has being part of a writing community impacted your writing practice?
Being a part of the Frequency writing community allowed me to envision a new way in which poetry could continue to be a part of my life, even after leaving school.
As a newcomer to Providence, it also helped me make connections with other folks in the area who share similar interests.
Who would you invite to join Frequency Writers?

I really recommend Frequency for folks who might have a lot going on, but still want to refocus on their craft in some way. Folks who are new to writing or coming back to it after years–there is room for everyone!

I especially encourage other folks of color and queer folks to join the classes.

 


To learn more about our Current Courses and Scholarship offerings, explore our website or email inquiries to frequencyprovidence@gmail.com.

Origin Stories for a New Year

This New Year’s we will start at the beginning: The origin.

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In this one day studio course we will take a look at the origins of space-time, the Earth’s geographical/topographical history alongside etymology (the origin of words) to generate new work or add to works already in progress. Appropriate for all genres, interests and levels of writing comfort!

Instructor: Nada Samih
When: Sunday January 27th
Time: 10:00 am to 2:00pm
Where: What Cheer Writers Club,
160 Westminster St, Providence, RI 02903
Tuition: $65

Read about Nada’s experience of starting out as a student of Frequency Writers workshop, or hear what she has to say about this class in the video below:

REGISTRATION required: https://frequencywriters.org/register/

RSVP and invite folks on our Facebook Event pages.

bio 2018Nada Samih-Rotondo is a writer, teacher, and mother who is inspired by the relationship between personhood and place. Born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, she immigrated to the United States at the age of six to Rhode Island as a refugee of the Gulf War. She has taught creative writing, literacy, and English as a second language to low income students in communities of color in grades 7-12 and through college. She holds an MFA from Lesley University in Fiction and loves creating from the intersection of all genres. She is interested in the slippery concepts of home, intergenerational trauma, and folklore. Her writing has been featured in the Masters Review, Squat Birth Journal and the Frequency Anthology. Nada can be followed on her blog: https://nowapproachingprovidence.wordpress.com.