By: Nicole Sintentos, Claritza Maldonado, Jacquelynn Jones, Maggie Unverzagt Goddard, Kate Duffy, Doctoral Candidates in American Studies
This time has changed the way that we gather and create.
In late May, Nicole Sintetos reached out to the other graduate students in the American Studies department with an invitation to participate in a writing club. Below is her email, rooted in a feminist praxis of collaboration and care.
To: American Studies Graduate Students
From: Nicole Sintetos
Thu, May 28, 2020 at 5:32 PM
Re: The Two Pager Writing Club
I have been struggling to write the last two months: perhaps it is the isolation that curbs one’s confidence, or just the general depletion of joy in the world, or the increasingly overt brokenness of this country, but let me tell you the words are not flowing. And yet, the dissertation (or any pressing deadline for that matter) needs to get done.
I’m interested in starting an unorthodox writing club. The rules: everyone in attendance must upload two pages (not three! two!) of any type of writing by Monday at midnight. Truly, any type of writing, as long as it is fresh off the press. It can be a dissertation chapter fragment. A journal entry about one’s frustration writing a dissertation chapter fragment. A series of incomplete stream-of-conscious ideas written at two in the morning after too much wine in which you are haunted by your incomplete dissertation chapter. A partial fields essay in which you fight with Foucault. A poem about your love for Foucault. A McSweeney’s List. Really, anything.
Then, on Tuesday, over lunch, we will each discuss our individual submissions (simply, one thing we are still struggling with and one thing that we think might be fruitful). We must then isolate just a single sentence from our submitted writing that we think is worth keeping and read it aloud.The scale of the writing group is to celebrate kernels of ideas, not fully fledged essays, and to hold space for the joy of writing at the sentence level. We actually will not edit each other’s work: the uploading is simply to provide an accountability structure for ourselves, though others can read and offer global compliments. Lunch will not exceed an hour.
I have long-felt that graduate school should be seen as a team sport. The same holds true for writing. And, frankly, I miss the spaces of community where we can casually talk about ideas.
If interested in joining the Two Pager Writing Club please shoot me an email.
In addition to gathering virtually each week, Nicole’s email prompted us to focus on both process and the creative work that we do beyond graduate school. Below, each member of the Two Pager Club shares a look into their creative lives and practices beyond our research and dissertation projects. We hold this space for each other to recognize and celebrate the life that we live within and beyond the academy. We encourage you to experiment with art supplies (broadly conceived) and think more about creative process rather than sheer productivity.
Collage, Claritza Maldonado
Collage, like poetry, has taught me a lot about fragments, small pieces, and the many beautiful (and sometimes ugly) things that form from them. Most of the images I cut out for this collage are from different tourist magazines, food magazines, fashion magazines, and advertisement pages.
Jean Art, Jacquelynn Jones
I started painting jeans because I wanted to use what I had to create something new. Painting this design, while using a new medium, has shown me that inspiration takes time and imagination needs space. It has also served as a needed reminder to slow down, to be patient, and to enjoy the process.
Watercolors, Maggie Unverzagt Goddard
I’ve always wanted to understand different watercolor techniques, but I’ve also been intimidated. By playing with different materials, I’m trying to suspend my sense of judgment and allow myself to experiment—a kind of curiosity and acceptance that I try to bring to my writing too.
Photo, Kate Duffy
I walk around the neighborhood, taking time to notice, ponder, and appreciate the things I see. This red door in an old stone wall has become a favorite point of interest. Since the pandemic began I’ve observed the vines grow thick with green leaves, then begin to fade again. On and on we go.
Photo credits: All images are by the creator named below the image.