Dynamic New Story-Telling Series, Stranger Stories, Clues Us In  

In May 2018 two Frequency alums, Judee Barr and Fallon Masterson, started Stranger Stories, a bi-monthly reading series where local writers come together to share true stories and personal essays in an intimate space. Artistic Director Rosalynde Vas Dias was thrilled to interview them. StrangerStories-logo_web

 Rosalynde: So, speaking for myself specifically and Frequency generally, it is pretty exciting to have two Frequency alums starting a story telling series here in the greater PVD area.  Can you fill us in on the origin story of Stranger Stories?  And have you used “Origin stories” as a theme yet?

Fallon: No, but that’s a great theme! The series came about because I lived in Chicago for a bit and took part in the live lit scene there. “Live lit” being defined as these readings of personal essays and creative non-fiction, a hybrid of storytelling and spoken word, but you’re “on-book” and reading from your work. (You can basically find a live lit show any day of the week there, it’s crazy how many there are!) When I moved back to Providence, I missed the ability to share my writing in that way and wanted to start a night. Then I met Judee at Frequency and realized she’d be the perfect person to bring the idea to life with me. She’d been hosting these salons at her apartment at the time, and had a real love for the community-building spirit of sharing your life experiences.

Judee: Yes, Frequency brought us together! Fallon wrote a piece about enchanted dust from New Mexico and another piece about being Italian, and I had to email her after class to say how much I enjoyed her writing. I loved her idea of creating a Providence space for writers of all levels to practice and share the personal essay form. I was holding these gatherings in my living room to make space for artists to share their work, and sharing pieces of our lives in a communal forum felt really powerful. We decided to give a reading series a shot! Thus began Stranger Stories. It’s been so much fun, and a thrill to get some support from the RI State Council of the Arts.

JB-FM-StrangerStories
Rosalynde: Is there a particular bias you have as a ‘reader/curator’ when you are screening submissions for Stranger Stories?

Fallon: I’m always going to advocate for a story that I think will make an audience laugh. Even if it’s largely about something serious, if there’s a joke or two that seems like it’ll land, I’ll push for it. Pieces that are too maudlin risk veering on melodrama when they’re read out loud, if the writer isn’t careful. It can be done, though!

Judee: One of the things I love about creative non-fiction are those hilariously honest details that the writer can pinpoint in the process, the ones that are SO TRUE! and reel you right into their lives and their stories. The pieces that have sparks of that – the truth of someone, honesty that might be slightly embarrassing in a different setting – are the ones that really grab me.
 
Rosalynde: So this might be a softball, but can you tell us your fave non-fiction/CNF writer or tale-spinner?

Fallon: My CNF gateway, Joan Didion.

Judee: I don’t have a clear fav – I met the creative non-fiction form as a writer much more than a reader. But I have been blown away by Janet Malcolm.

Rosalynde: Can you challenge our readership with a CNF form they might use to access some particularly personal material?  OR what do you say when someone says their life is boring? 

Fallon: I like the Sherry Simpson “Tiny Masters” exercise, which comes off of a quote from Susan Orleans about how she’s most interested in writing about people who are masters of their “tiny domains.” Simpson’s idea comes from using this as a personal essay tool to shift the focus off ourselves, to our places of knowledge and power.  To do the exercise, you write a list of ten things you consider yourself a master at. Maybe you’re an insane parallel parker or bread baker or master of apologizing. Pick an item off your list and jump in. In drafts, ask yourself, “What is this really about?” and the deeper level of your essay will become clear. It’s a good way to get at some unexpectedly heavy stuff, but sort of through a side door.

Judee: Our lives are worlds of fascinating weirdness. It’s all about noticing those strange details that add up to being a person, finding a way to access them like with the exercise that Fallon suggested. We did an exercise that I really enjoyed in a Frequency class called “Margins” led by Evelyn Hampton – we wrote a short personal essay, added footnotes to the essay, and deleted the content so that the footnotes themselves became the entire piece. It produced a kind of detailed commentary and frank tone that was fodder for more reflection and writing.

Stranger Stories next event information is as follows:  logopins
Theme: Dinnertime!
Submission Deadline for Writers:
Sunday, December 30, 2018

Event Details:
6:30PM, Thursday, January 24, 2019
Artists’ Exchange @ 50 Rolfe Square, Cranston, RI 02910

You can learn more about Stranger Stories by following them on facebook, or checking out their website: www.strangerstoriespvd.com

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Honoring the Visible and Invisible

2018 giving tuesday

Dear Frequency Family,

I’ve been writing poetry for almost 30 years of my life.  Like most of the writers I wrote poorly for a while, getting better by increments, learning with the help of patient teachers, a lot of reading, and a good bit of trial and error as well.  It has been my incredible good fortune to have been involved with Frequency for the last 4 and half years. And it occurs to me that the long work I have done as a poet is similar to the work of keeping a delicate and beautiful organization like Frequency going—by which I mean so much of the work we devote ourselves to is invisible—the hours spent turning a vision in a reality, a draft into a final piece and hopefully a published piece, a read piece.

Like one’s writing life, shepherding a small non-profit through its stages of growth is fraught with self-doubt and every small success brings a sigh of relief, a glow of pride.  Frequency was founded by writers and teachers who knew first-hand the drive to share the visible part of one’s writing life with a greater community and that is what drives us still.  Frequency is still very much run by writers with day jobs and we know the almost measureless value of the time you give yourself as a writer to be with your community, to draft side by side with fellow writers, to receive from instructors, and to give as well, to share your work via a table read, an open mike, or publication in Frequency’s anthologies.

Your donation to Frequency today supports both the visible and invisible nature of the work we do—the glamorous and glorious side such as paying our truly beloved instructors and the mundane: rent and insurance payments.  Most importantly though, your gift opens the door to writers like you who wish to take a class and be visible. For writers who wish to be both seen and heard, and need some extra help to do that.  Profoundly and even radically, Frequency wants to honor the invisible and visible lives of writers in our community.  Please help us do just that today.

Affectionately,
Rosalynde Vas Dias
Artistic Director

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A Micro-interview –on Film– with Instructor Victor Wildman

Victor Wildman

Victor, one of Frequency’s most in-demand instructors, will be leading Image into Text: an all-ages and all-levels workshop about writing and film. (More information below.)

Here, Victor joins us to discuss these mediums in tandem:

We too love film and feel innately inspired by it as a writer.  How do you think cinematic image or motion emerges in your writing?

There is a real desire on my part to learn about my characters – not by imposing thoughts or characteristics on them – but by paying careful attention: observing what they do and where they go, listening to what they listen to, listening to what they say – as if their lives were simply unfolding before my eyes like a succession of images and sound, like a film.

How will this course build on previous Frequency courses you’ve taught or how do you think it will differ?

While I have occasionally asked my students to watch a movie and to do something formally analogous to what they saw in their writing, this course will mark the first time where the entire course will revolve around the doing of this kind of work: looking carefully at what certain films do with narrative and image and with sound and translating that as carefully as possible into a piece of writing.

What’s a favorite or haunting movie moment or image of yours that anyone reading this might turn to as a prompt or a goad?  

Maybe the image at the end of Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman where the eponymous heroine, after having committed a shockingly violent act, sits down before her dining room table – or rather, it is not so much this moment taken by itself, but what this moment means after having spent almost three and a half hours getting to know her by paying her the respect of our undivided attention, time spent witnessing her life, and all the pain that we can now so plainly see. It is a haunting moment that reverberates long after the movie is over. It imprints itself on us and she is still sitting down before us, even now.

Dates: Thursdays, November 8th to December 13th
Time: 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Place: School One
$250, scholarships available

Join Frequency’s Wavelength: Make a Donation Today!

Good writing has many elements, including vibrant characters, strong voice, and a moving rhythm both on its own and in tandem with others.

For over 8 years, Frequency Writers has been shaping our individual and collective voice, expanding our outreach, our wavelength, by contributing to the voices of many artists and writers through the offer of accessible, affordable, and unique classes that seek to empower writers of all levels and all backgrounds.

Frequency is nearly entirely volunteer-run, and your tuition goes to support our very talented instructors. We would like to offer even more:

  • We strive to increase scholarships
  • Grow our dedicated staff with compensation
  • Create more opportunities to conference, learn, publish, and connect with writers and artists across Rhode Island and New England.
In short, we intend to raise our frequency. Your contribution of any kind helps!
Today, we launch our first ever digital fundraising campaign:
Our goal is to raise $500 in 2 weeks, beginning today.
The equivalent of 50 people choosing to donate $10 each. We can do it!

Frequency is thankful for your support!

Sincerely,
Karen Haskell
Operations Director

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Around the Corner…

The Devil You Know

The figures that stalk our nightmares are as familiar to us as any fictional character we might embrace. For every Mr. Darcy, Harry Potter, and Offred, there’s a Dracula, Prince Joffrey, or a Freddie Kruger. As much as they repel us, we never quite let go of them; do we? But where do our monsters come from? In this class we will dig into the ways in which monsters in fiction and film grant us access to powerful impulses coursing through our society, culture and ourselves. Through inventive and infectious (!) writing prompts, we will explore how writers might harness these energies to answer the question: How do monsters, freaks, and other tragic metaphors enable us to speak about our society and envision change?

Watch the two-day workshop trailer:

View/Register for all Current Courses.

Instructors: Janaya Kizzie & Rekha Rosha
Dates: Thursdays, October 18th & 25th
Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm
$120 – Scholarships available!

Interview with Instructors about this course:

Will this be a class about ghosts, zombies, and sorcerers—or what sort of monsters are we talking about here?
The seed for this course was zombies, but we’re really talking about all of them! We’re interested in exploring the ways that monsters reflect and are shaped by our fears, so they come in as many shapes and sizes as we can imagine.

The structure and prompts of the class follow the structure of monster stories, which is essentially a tale of transition and self-discovery in the face of extremes.

As students reply to prompts, they will be writing toward and engaging with the fundamental building blocks of horror novel. Meaning that our students will be, essentially, in their own monster story.

We’ll be looking at excerpts from short stories and novels that give us insight what monsters mean to us, as well as the ways in which we fight, flee from, or accept monsters.

Will you address some of the dreadful aspects of writing, with ways to overcome these terrors?

Writer’s block can definitely be as paralyzing as a monster! We have two tracks going at once during the class: The narrative of the monster/self discovery tale and the observation of the writers’ craft. For every prompt and narrative structural element of the monster story, we’ll talk about a different element of craft and how to approach it.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.44.32 PM

Janaya Kizzie writes horror stories and an occasional prose-style sonnet. Providence

inspires her often, and her career as an archivist often informs the historical elements in her creative work. She is particularly interested in genre fiction  (especially historical fiction, horror and sci fi), interstitial fiction, small-batch self-publishing, and the places where writing meets other things, like visual art, music and film.

Rekha Rosha‘s work on the intersections of fiction and finance has appeared in anthologies published by Palgrave Macmillan and Cambridge Scholars Publishing. She has taught courses on American literature and composition at Boston University, Wake Forest University, and at Brandeis University, where she received her Ph.D. in English and American Literature. Her favorite moments

rekhain the classroom were teaching “When Zombies Attack!”–a composition course that explored questions only the undead can raise about consciousness and identity. She is currently writing an early American noir novel about the violence of colonization in 1630 Boston. She lives in beautiful Pawtuxet Village.

Fall Classes

All levels and beginner-writers welcome!

Saturday 9/15: Nature Writing

Sundays, 9/23-10/14: Endless Beautiful

Thursdays, 10/18 & 10/25: The Devil You Know

Thursdays, 11/8-12/13: Image into Text [Cinematic Writing]

Sunday, 11/11: Writing the Difficult Story

Tuesdays, 11/13-12/4: Poet as Witness to History

Sunday 12/2: The Road to Publication

Current Course Descriptions and Registration.

Student Spotlight: Veronica Vela

Frequency is honored to feature the voices and writing of community members! Our Student Spotlights bring you the words of some of our inspired writers. If you would like to share your own thoughts, please email coordinator@frequencywriters.org.

The Writer

When I’m not writing, I’m usually laughing. I love watching movies and traveling. I’m grateful to have a career in writing, where I can still be creative. The goal of being able to write professionally has always been my goal ever since I can recall….

…Reading helps me find the right mood I’m trying to achieve in a new story…. I’m typically very focused and sometimes (if I’m lucky enough) I’ll get in a trance-like state where the piece writes itself. Experiencing that is one of the many reasons I have always loved writing. 

The Writing Community

How has Frequency inspired your writings? 

I was part of Kristen Capaldi’s Flash Fiction course. The reason I joined was because I hadn’t written anything new in over a year….Kristen’s prompts helped unlock my creative juices and I managed to finish three complete storiesaround 500 words each, which I am grateful for. 

How has being part of a writing community impacted your writing practice and life beyond the page?

Typically, I love solitude…but I challenged myself to participate andreally listento other writers. Members of my writing group helped me solve problems I was grappling with, they motivated me to keep going… Their insights were invaluable. 

Because of this class, I became motivated to submit to journals….[T]he act of submitting a piece of fiction was an achievement for me…. [W]e still meet bi-weekly to talk writing and workshop our pieces. 

Who would you invite to Frequency writers? 

I would encourage people who are nervous about getting out of their comfort zones to take a class, with classmates from all different backgrounds[some] had never written a piece of fiction in their life.  Like most people, we were busy, tired from working ten hours at work, and driving in bad traffic, but we all showed up. We showed up just so we could engage in something wonderfully creative….

Read a flash fiction piece by Veronica Vela, Astrobee-3:

Astrobee-3

I can’t recall the feeling of being hurled hundreds of feet into the air, but I can remember the smell of the field. Stretches of young, coarse wheat surrounded me and I drew my hand through the cool stalks.

Each time I landed, I hit the ground butt first and each time, I woke up further from the house. Father had taken to the new device, the Astrobee-3. The Astrobee was a precarious little knob that worked roughly half the time. He had worked his way up on the dial to 500 feet. It was a distance far enough from the house that the march back would be a contemplative one.  According to the manual, “anything greater than 500 feet could result in the unpredictable displacement effect or even death.”

I can’t recall the feeling of being mid-air, but I remember always wanting him to leave. My father was an orphan from the slums of Birchdale and by the time I had become a teenager, he was a widower from Moose Jaw. He had a shrewd, fat face, and was devoid of spirit except when it came to swinging his wrists. By the time Astrobee arrived, he was practically giddy as he removed the contraption from its box. ASTROBEEwas printed in black bold letters on a silver round button. He couldn’t read, yet fingered the black raised letters sweetly as if hoping he could. He kicked the styrofoam peanuts all around the floor and tinkered with all of Astrobee’s mechanical parts. “This knob ‘il set you straight you mark my words” and kept the button deep in the pockets of the trousers he wore every day.

Father used Astrobee every chance he could. If I shifted in my chair a certain way, if my shirts were too tight, if I cooked a bad meal,  hell if the sky was pink. Each time I made the walk back to the house, I came back bruised and blood-crusted with wet grass stuck to my legs. But each time, my body adjusted a little more. He thwacked the ejector knob so often and with such excitement, the “A” “S” and “R” had worn off the button leaving the word “T   OBEE” in pale black ink.

Our house was a squat log cottage, with two bedrooms and three beds. The house came with a high stone fireplace and a good country dog, one rich in leisure. The last night I saw father, he had about two pints of curl (homemade alcohol that’ll curl your toes) and passed out with his head resting on the hearth near the fire box. Father had tripped so hard that the button slipped out of his khaki’s. My body felt like an electric wire and I shot straight up. I could see the tick marks so clearly and the DO NOT EXCEED label near the orange range. In that moment, I saw everything.

I took the button and turned it over with the dial side facing me and cradled it in both hands like a precious animal. I looked at my drunken father on the floor, looked back at the device, and smiled as the dial’s face stared back at me.