Culture

You’re Invited! UB’s “Handmade” Plork Press Releases Its First Book Thursday

0 Written by: | Monday, Sep 23, 2013 10:02am

sewingCall us old fashioned, but Plork Press still believes books are meant to be held in your hands—not to be scrolled and clicked, but to be cradled, flipped, fondled no less, to be eyeballed inside and out. Plork Press believes that the visual and tactile processes are exactly what make reading the extrasensory experience we all discovered it to be once upon a time when we first learned to do it. A student-driven imprint at the University of Baltimore, Plork Press announces the release of its first book, Plorkology: Stories, Poems, and Essays. Join us on October 3rd at 7:30 p.m. for the book launch party in the basement of the Langsdale Library and behold these colorful, hand bound books. To learn how this is done, visit us for bookmaking sessions and snag creative training right on the spot. Or you could hang with us and simply watch books get built.

Wait, what is Plork anyway? Only the beginning of everything! Plork marries work and play to create a life that engages all the senses.

We plan to use earnings from Plorkology sales as seed money to continue our seriously playful publishing endeavors in the years to come. Won’t you join us? Do you Plork?! Come on, it’s never too late to create.

For more information, please visit Plork Press here — or on Facebook. Learn more about our first book after the jump!

group

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Culture, Featured

Baltimore-Born Cobalt Review “Kickstarts” to Publish Books

0 Written by: | Monday, Jun 10, 2013 10:19am

cover art by Suzanne Levesque

cover art by Suzanne Levesque

Sure, the Internet’s slow-folding, death-of-print side effect saddens many of us who still cherish the tactile experience of holding a book or a magazine and hearing the pages turn as our brains take in the literature at hand. Book heartbreak aside, it’s heartening to remind ourselves that digital publishing itself doesn’t minimize our lit-reading options—it actually increases them. Although everything’s permutating in the world of fiction and poetry publishing, and I’m the first to complain about it, that doesn’t mean great writing’s not being born digitally all the time—same goes for on-the-rise online publishing imprints like Dzanc that raise funds to print books the old-fashioned way.

As long-established literary journals like Shenandoah bid farewell to print and take up residence online, so are numerous startup journals staking their claim on the web and in some cases even producing actual tangible books with artistic covers–the kind you can touch. And they’re using yet another fast-growing digital playing field to find their funds: Kickstarter.

Case in point: Cobalt, an online quarterly lit journal featuring fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and interviews edited by University of Baltimore alums, wants you to visit their Kickstarter page and consider pledging part of the $2000+ they’ll need to produce their first book through Cobalt Press. Why should you consider this project among the other dozen your music-video-making friends are hounding you to help with? Read More →

Schools

The Singing Professor: Songwriting 101 at UB

0 Written by: | Friday, May 24, 2013 11:30am

courtesy of UB University Relations

courtesy of UB University Relations/photo by JJ Chrystal

If University of Baltimore Professor Roger Friskey’s brisk attitude and winning grin remind you of Robert Preston in the film classic The Music Man, in which, of course, Preston’s charming band leader character only pretends to teach teens to play their expensive instruments, cease the comparisons at cosmetic ones. Yes, Friskey’s teaching a brand-new songwriting class as part of the summer schedule at UB; true, Friskey encourages anyone and everyone to register, even those without a hint of musical training or ability. But the guitar-strumming, Renaissance businessman, who typically lectures on persuasive and public relations writing for the university, isn’t promising to turn his students into pop stars or producers overnight. He’s just saying all are welcome to join the lively workshop discussion of songwriting technique and the seminar chat about the fast-changing face of the music industry. And all are encouraged to compose at their level. Read More →

Culture

Hitler’s Clairvoyant: Arthur Magida at the Ivy, May 24th

0 Written by: | Wednesday, May 22, 2013 1:04pm

hanussen

As World War I left Berlin devastated, a depressed and bewildered citizenry turned to the occult for comfort — private seances and one-on-one psychic readings provided a sense that the tragically dead weren’t completely out of reach, and a much needed escape from reality. In the early 1930s, Erik Jan Hanussen, a famous Jewish-German mind reader, gained eerie and unlikely entree into Hitler’s inner circle. Eager to please the fuhrer, Hanussen transformed his life and changed his occult publication into a Nazi propaganda rag. Ultimately, Hanussen’s psychic knowing wasn’t enough to save his life… Want to learn more? You can hear the rare nonfiction author Arthur Magida, a writer in residence at UB, discuss his book on Hanussen, The Nazi Seance (Pallgrave Macmillan), at the Ivy Friday evening at 7. Read More →

Featured, Money & Power, Schools

Which Local Universities’ Grads Make the Most Money?

0 Written by: | Thursday, May 09, 2013 10:17am

Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 9.22.02 AM

It’s not who you might expect. PayScale, a website that aggregates economic data to help people understand whether they’re under- (or over-) paid just released its 2012-13 data ranking various universities for their salary potential. A quick data point:  Princeton grads have an average starting salary of $58,300 and an average mid-career salary of $137,000. And because money isn’t everything, PayScale also asks alumni whether their job “makes the world a better place”; 49 percent of Princeton grads think that it does. (The site surveyed students with a bachelor’s degree from the institution, not MD/MA/PhD grads, in case you’re wondering). The lowest-earning school on the list is the online division of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (because who goes to art school online!?), where fresh grads average $34,200 and those with a decade or more under their belt make $42,300, on average. Curious about how some local schools measure up? We’ve got the answers below:
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Featured, Schools

On the Baseball Field, Baltimore’s Public and Private Schools Compete, Collide, Unite

2 Written by: | Monday, Apr 15, 2013 9:12am

President’s Cup from Julie Simon Productions on Vimeo.

BaseballJulie Simon, associate professor in the University of Baltimore’s School of Communications Design and a former network television producer, set out to make a documentary about high school baseball, but not for any of the wind-in-your-hair reasons you might expect. (Be sure to check out the moving trailer above, featuring narration by former O’s broadcaster Jon Miller.)

“I really don’t have [an] interest in baseball,” Simon says. “I’m a fair weather Oriole fan. What interested me about this piece was the story, not the sport…”

The fantastic 2012 tournament story that drew Simon’s camera focus links back more than 20 years to a time when public and private high school students in Baltimore City competed regularly on the baseball diamond in one league. Black and white students engaged; a diverse klatch of parents filled the stands to root for kids who would never have been brought together otherwise. Read More →

Featured, Schools

UPDATE: Commencement Speaker Extravaganza: Baseball Players, Hollywood Directors, and More!

1 Written by: | Thursday, Apr 11, 2013 11:17am

main_may2013

Well, we know one person who is not going to be a graduation speaker this year. (That would be Hopkins’s Dr. Ben Carson, who opted not to give the speech at the graduation for the Johns Hopkins Medical School after students protested his homophobic remarks.) Here’s who’s speaking at local schools this year:
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Big Fish, Featured, Money & Power

Big Fish Q&A with UB President Robert Bogomolny

0 Written by: | Friday, Nov 16, 2012 8:00am

 

University of Baltimore President Robert Bogomolny

University of Baltimore President Robert Bogomolny (pronounced bow-go-mole-knee) isn’t your stereotypical chief university officer, with patches on the elbows of his blazer and a past life performed most loudly in chalk-dusty seminar classrooms. Before accepting the job in August of 2002, Bogomolny served as corporate senior VP and general counsel at the pharmaceutical firm G.D. Searle and Company (think Ambien, Metamucil, Nutrasweet), and before that as professor of law and dean of the Cleveland Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University from 1977 to 1987. Born in Cleveland in 1938, Bogomolny’s business and academic experience is rich and varied; he is widely credited with amping UB’s enrollment and enabling the school’s urban campus to expand and beautify annually, and credited, as well, with knowing how to dig in and “grow” the school based largely upon his far-reaching resume. Read More →

Featured, Links, Money & Power, Schools

Billionaire GoDaddy Founder Bob Parsons Tells Life Lessons at his Alma Mater, U of Baltimore

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012 11:20am

Bob Parsons was once just another Highlandtown kid who was scared of the mean nuns at his Catholic school, joined the military after graduating, and worked at Bethlehem Steel after returning from Vietnam. But his story has a different ending than most:  last year, he sold the majority of Go Daddy, his domain registration company, for $2.25 billion, and gave $1 million of that to his alma mater, the University of Baltimore, to endow a professorship. So how exactly did Parsons get from there to here?
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Bohemian Rhapsody, Lifeline

True Confessions: A Writing Workshop Confidential

6 Written by: | Wednesday, Aug 17, 2011 12:00am

In most occupations, if you have an accident at work, you end up in the hospital. When a creative nonfiction teacher has a little job-site snafu, forget the ambulance. There’s plenty of trauma, but not the kind they can handle at the ER.

I’d logged just a year of campus experience when I taught a boy and girl from Florida who’d been friends before college. He was a lazy loudmouth, she a quiet, serious type who’d been ROTC in high school. They were an odd couple as friends, but at least they had each other.
One day in workshop, Mr. Faux Gangsta read us an essay about the night he’d been babysitting the youngest child of a neighbor. Once the little girl was asleep, he smoked some pot he found in a kitchen drawer, then ended up having sex with the mom when she got home. All of this was described in great detail–I had probably written “show, don’t tell” on one of his previous papers. By the end of the story, his friend was staring at him with her mouth open.

“Yes, it was your mom,” he said, smiling broadly and waggling his finger. She bolted from the room.

“Oh Christ,” I muttered as I rushed after her, shouting over my shoulder that everyone, even the non-smokers, should take a cigarette break until further notice.

When the class is personal storytelling, going to school is rarely boring.

I was a child of 41 when I started teaching, pregnant with my daughter Jane. I had no idea that my MFA in creative writing qualified me to do anything income-producing at all, but when my husband’s college found itself desperate for someone to teach a scheduled writing class, I suddenly learned I had the credentials.

Though I was extremely nervous and sure I had nothing to say, I drew up a syllabus, ordered some books, and drove to Harrisburg two nights a week as my belly pushed ever closer to the steering wheel.  I began by assigning the students journalistic pieces, and that went okay. But when we started to work on memoir material, the class caught fire. As it turned out, I had a student who’d grown up living with her family in a bizarre rural religious cult. She was now a stripper. Another had racked up credit card debt in the tens of thousands of dollars before turning twenty. Another had lived through the horrors of high school as a gay teenage harpsichordist.

I had found my calling.

*

Believe it or not, back when I was a student, there was no such thing as creative nonfiction. You could study poetry or fiction, maybe playwriting, but it wasn’t until 1994, more than 10 years after I finished graduate school, that the first classes in the genre were offered. That was when people started realizing that 16th century author Michel de Montaigne and NPR commentator David Sedaris were doing about the same thing.

By then I had stumbled onto the form myself. My first personal essay, though I didn’t know that term, was called “How To Get Pregnant in the Modern World,” and described recent experiments I had been doing along those lines. No made-up plot or characters, no gimmicks of language, a voice very close to my own–what the hell? Was this allowed?

Finding my form as a writer was an incredible relief to me and the excitement carried me through dozens more essays and one book-length memoir. I ventured past humorous storytelling into darker territory: the role of drugs in my relationship with my sister, the sorrow of losing my father in my mid-twenties, my battles with weight, body image and eating disorders, the dream-turned-nightmare of the pregnancy that ended in stillbirth. At first, some subjects seemed untouchable, as I imagined the exposure I would endure, and the shame, and the complexity of getting these difficult, multifaceted stories down right. Eventually I learned to recognize that “don’t do it” reaction for what it is, camouflage and barbed wire around the entrance to the place you are looking for, whether you know it or not.

*

When my husband took a job teaching at MICA, I joined him there. Though at first it was all beer pong and raves and sex in the city, the essays of the art students eventually took a heartbreaking turn. A girl wrote about growing up hungry. Another had been pushed down the stairs by her father. Another had run away from home and was living off the grid in a national park on the Tuesday morning some hobo with a transistor radio told her planes had hit the World Trade Center. She called her mother for the first time in a year.

Absolute silence followed the reading of some of these pieces in class. Sometimes students were crying, or staring fixedly at their desks. I too felt panicky, especially after that disaster with the Floridians. I was not a trained counselor or even a good role model–did I have the skill to steer a group of young people through the waves of anxiety, emotion and judgment swelling around me?

By the time I got to the University of Baltimore, where I teach now, I had figured out my shtick. My students can write about almost anything, and I encourage them to be as brave as they can stand, to forge through the camouflage and barbed wire. But the class doesn’t offer therapy, at least not for the soul. Only for the story.

So, for example, it is fine to lay the smack down about your ex-boyfriend the psychotic control freak and the horrible things he did to you–or the cherished love you found making out with your roommate. But all you’re going to get from me and your fellow students is advice on how to make it a better story. “I don’t understand what happened that night at the Dairy Queen,” you’ll hear. Or, “Dude, you never explained why you even dated her!” The only way readers will be interested in the assholes these people became is if you take the time to show them as you first fell in love with them, wry smile, wild hair, bass guitar, scarred wrists, golden retriever and all. We have to fall in love too. And the only way we can really engage with the story of your betrayal is if you figure out your part in making it happen–how you played into it, or wanted it, or were too weak to get out when you should have. That’s a story people want to read. And if you can find a few moments of black humor, so much the better.

While I insist that we are doing craft work, not therapy, the students eventually figure out what I learned from my own writing–they are pretty much the same thing. When you write about your problems, you are in charge of them–they are your little puppets, instead of you being theirs. And if you can figure out your role in bringing them on–”self-implication,” as we call it in the workshop–you have taken a huge step toward freedom. This is what I hope for all the broken-hearted kids who have had to take my “love medicine,” for the boy who kept bragging about black-out drinking, the girl with the marriage she’d kept secret from her parents, for the boy who survived the world’s most protracted and ridiculous armed car-jacking.

Still, every once in a while, the needle goes off the charts and I feel like half the class is going home with post-traumatic stress disorder. Fortunately, once you’re in the memoir business, PTSD is just another thing to write about.

Marion Winik writes “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a column about life, love, and the pursuit of self-awareness. Check out her heartbreakingly honest and funny essays twice a month on Baltimore Fishbowl.

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