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Literature | In Capital Letters, 2011 May

Questions?

  • Literature
    202-885-2971
    Fax: 202-885-2938
    lit@american.edu
    Battelle Tompkins, Room 237

    Rangel-Mullin, Rebecca
    Sr. Administrative Assistant

Mailing Address

Greta Schuler, Interview & Writing Sample

In Capital Letters (ICL): What do you want remember about the program in 10 years? 

Richard McCann, who said that life uses us and as writers we must use it right back; Stephanie Grant, who taught me that structure and meaning should be interwoven; Glenn Moomau, who convinced me that I have to have a damn good reason to use the present tense; David Keplinger, who proved to me the importance of crossing genres and reading poetry; Rachel Louise Snyder, who showed me how crucial being fair to all characters—fictional or not—is to the success of a piece; Andrew Holleran, who reminded me what I love most about writing and what is at the heart of the process: the story.

ICL:  From being part of the program and participating in workshops and the Visiting Writers series, what do you think are the most important things you have learned about your own writing?  How has your writing changed?  

I've learned that my writing is not as good as I had hoped or as bad as I had feared. VWS has changed my writing process, each author adding one more thing for me to try to think about while I write.

ICL:  What is your favorite quote or line from a book?

"I am other I now. Other I got pound."

ICL:  What have you read most recently that inspired you?

William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow.

ICL:  Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

I'm afraid of elephants.

ICL:  If your life had a theme song right now, what would it be? 

Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia." A song about the fickleness of the unfaithful muse seems appropriate as I face thesis revisions. 

 

Writing Sample

From This Is the Cow I Greet You With

Faustina could see a child's eye peeking between the plywood door and the mud wall of the hut. Her niece's footsteps had been silent—Faustina felt Mazvita's stare before she heard her. "Pendai," Faustina urged. Come in. "Why are you afraid?"

The maize meal sack lay crumpled and empty, so Faustina hadn't bothered to start a fire. She would need to take some grain from the orphanage for supper. Letting the shy girl wait a moment, Faustina splashed her face with water from the plastic bucket. The drops running down her cheeks felt cooler as she neared the door, where the dry night seeped in through the cracks.

"Now tell me, child, why have you come so far so early?" Faustina worried that Mazvita wanted something for breakfast. The moon shone on the very top of the little girl's head, which was smooth and shaved, as her father's religion dictated. Mazvita said that her mother was at the clinic and that the fat nurse with the Karanga accent wanted her to go to the hospital.

The baby, Faustina thought. Something was wrong with Silent's baby. Silent was little more than a girl herself. Faustina had been a wife with child before her father had taken Silent's mother as his third wife.

"Mhanya nekukrumbidza!" Faustina ordered Mazvita to hurry back to the clinic. She would follow with the white women in their Toyota.

Faustina rolled a rock in front of the door and left her hut without looking back. Her own children were gone, Lovemore dead. Now Silent sick. But what could she do?


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Greta Schuler