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Rahna Reiko Rizzuto: On the Birth of Clockhouse

Wed, 2013-12-11 14:24 -- Anonymous (not verified)
MFA in Creative Writing Faculty: Writers Talking About Writing
Rahna Reiko Rizzuto: On the Birth of Clockhouse

 

On November 1st, a new national literary journal was born.  Clockhouse was the dream of two of my master’s degree candidates in the MFA in Creative Writing program my very first semester teaching at Goddard.  Led by a group of alumni, editorially-independent, the journal they imagined was nevertheless essentially of Goddard, for Goddard; you could even say it was a gift to the college and the program they grew out of and loved.

Ten years later, Clockhouse is born as a truly national journal, featuring twenty-four brand new short stories, interviews, essays, plays and poems by award-winning writers, as well as exciting, new literary voices.  The same two “students,” now teachers and published writers in their own right, are still on board (How cool is that?  How many writing programs can boast such a strong, enduring community of alums?) along with a talented staff of writers who have graduated from Goddard in the decade since.

We are excited.  We are inspired. But does the world need another literary journal?  To us, that’s like asking, Does the world need another writer?  Haven’t all the stories already been written? Editor Julie Parent and Publisher Kathryn Cullen-DuPont sat down with me to talk about the role of the writer in the world, and their vision for the journal. Eavesdrop on the beginning of our conversation here and decide for yourself.

Dare. Risk. Dream. Share. Ruminate.

How do we understand our place in the world, our responsibility to it, and our responsibility to each other? Clockhouse is an eclectic conversation about the work-in-progress of life—a soul arousal, a testing ground, a new community, a call for change. Join in.
Clockhouse mission statement

A New Community

Jill Newton Moore’s photograph, “The Martin Family’s Garden House”—the cover image of this inaugural issue of Clockhouse—speaks of the juxtapositions and transformations that we at Clockhouse Writers’ Conference and Goddard College embrace every day. There’s the open door, demarcating a clear separation between interiority and the outside world, while inviting an easy crossing between the two, and perhaps suggesting there’s no true separation after all. We also note the oppositions: a time-worn but still solid wood frame, embracing the fragility and transparency  of glass. There’s the wall of peeling and disintegrating plaster, too: layers carefully applied by many hands, now come undone by weather and time—and in its deteriorating state, laying bare the history of human effort and chemical bonds that went into its construction. And then, a seat. A bench dressed with a shawl, so not empty; a seat without an occupant, so waiting.

For what?

The history of the building itself provides an answer, given by Willard and Maude Martin, owners of Greatwood Estate and Gardens before it became the campus of Goddard College. The Martins’ relative, Susannah Martin, was imprisoned, tried, and sentenced to death as a witch during the Salem Witchcraft Trials in Ipswich, Massachusetts. When the courthouse of Susannah’s trial was later torn down, Mr. Martin bought its timbers and had them transported to Plainfield, Vermont to become the supporting beams of this garden house roof. They’re not hidden, but exposed: a piece of very hard history, made openly and differently beautiful. The persecution Susannah Martin endured, by order of her government, has been transformed within this space for contemplation by the Goddard College and Clockhouse Writers’ Conference communities.
It’s in that spirit of looking carefully at our world and expressing fully what we see in it and in each other—and trying to create something differently beautiful in the process—that we invite you to enter Clockhouse.

The new community we are waiting for is a society, culture, government, and discourse based in truth rather than lies, in authenticity rather than fabrication, more in worth than in price. In it, everyone is seen for who they are, and each person is standing tall and taking her place, shaping his life in keeping with what his heart and soul says is right. In these last few decades, it has become harder to achieve this kind of community, as the world has become more synthetic, and we have increasingly lost trust in our inner compasses to successfully navigate it. In such times, artists have traditionally come forth to offer a more honest vision and clearer direction: she puts herself out there, to be seen, so that we may all be seen; he points out that which must be questioned, examined, and transformed.

When we think about the origins of story and storytelling, we remember Joseph Campbell’s idea that storytelling was rooted initially in our need to teach our children how to function in the world. Today’s non-stop propaganda, a media controlled by special interest groups, press releases published as news, tell us: what we need from storytelling has changed. In a world where sound bites and headlines replace our thoughts, the role of the creative writer is to shock the reader who’s already numb—who’s being rendered helpless by all the yelling on television and opinion offered as fact—into meeting and experiencing the world from a stronger and more vital personal vantage point. The creative writer empowers people to recognize what they think society and culture should be, and to take action…

Find out more about Clockhouse at www.clockhouse.net.

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