Minutes of the Folklore and Creative Writing Section of AFS









Minutes of the Fourth Meeting of the Folklore and Creative Writing Section of AFS

October 24, 2008, 12:15 - 1:20 pm

            American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky

Meeting called to order by senior convener Peggy Yocom at 12:15 p.m., assisted by junior convener Andrea Graham.

Reading: Nic Hartmann read his poem called “Estonian Kitchen Party.”

Introductions: There were brief introductions by attendees with their affiliations and recent writing projects.

Minutes: Motion by Jo Radner, second by Nic Hartmann, to approve the minutes of the 2007 meeting, motion passed.

• Peggy announced that the AFS web site will soon be updated to a more interactive format, with blogs, user-added information, frequent updates, comments, audio and video, etc. There is a new editor (John Laudun), and he will be looking for sub-editors on particular topics or for sections, to solicit and organize material. The Folklore and Creative Writing Section could use the site to post writing for feedback, post a weekly or monthly piece of creative writing by members, and Peggy could move the information on the section that is on her personal site to the AFS site for greater accessibility.

• This year there are three section-sponsored events at the meeting: A session of readings from the newly-published The Folklore Muse, for which editor Frank de Caro was heartily thanked; a panel on ballads and creative writing; and a collage writing workshop run by poet Susan Tichy.

• Peggy will continue to serve as the AFS liaison to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), which is meeting in Chicago on February 11-14, 2009. She will present on ethnopoetics in teaching folklore and creative writing. The 2010 meeting will be in Denver, and she and Dave Stanley have talked about proposing a panel on cowboy poetry. The AWP conference is large, 4000 attendees. It has papers and forums on creative writing issues, readings, and a book fair. All the MFA programs in the country are there, as are many presses. See www.awpwriter.org

• Peggy will continue to maintain the Section’s listserv FOLKWRITERS through her university, George Mason.

• The Folklore and Creative Writing Section now is listed on the AFS membership form with annual dues of $5, so we can keep track of membership. It was suggested that dues be raised to $10, so we can accumulate some funds and pay to bring in writers; Darcy Holtgrave, University of Missouri graduate student, requested that student membership remain at $5. Andrea will contact Tim Lloyd about making this change effective at the start of the next fiscal year, September 1, 2009.

• The Section’s web page with bios of members needs to be updated, and it is the responsibility of members to send their new information to Peggy to be posted. She suggested having separate sections for members of the Section and non-members. There was some discussion of what to call the non-members’ section—friends, associates, or allies were all suggested, although some felt “friends” or “associates” suggested a supporting membership category. Those present decided on “allies,” citing the similarity with GLBTQA language.

• The next AFS meetings are scheduled for Boise, Idaho, in 2009 and Nashville, Tennessee, in 2010.

Activities for Boise Meeting: Andrea explained that both Boise State University and the University of Idaho in Moscow have MFA creative writing programs, and that we might draw on their faculty for presenters. Nearby writers also include Teresa Jordan in Salt Lake City and Kim Stafford in Portland, both of whom understand folklore and have done writing workshops for the Western public folklorists’ meetings. Kim Stafford comes highly recommended, and we might be able to work with the Cabin Literary Center in Boise, Boise State, and the Idaho Commission in the Arts to share costs of bringing him in. Most present were interested in having Kim Stafford come, possibly with his Lewis and Clark University colleague, folklorist Joanne Mulcahy.

Darcy Holtgrave suggested a professional session or workshop on publishing, how to submit materials, find a publisher, etc.; perhaps someone from the BSU faculty or the Cabin could present on this topic. Another idea was to recruit people representing university presses in the book room to speak on publishing. The director of the Idaho Humanities Council runs a small press and might be another good resource.

There was a discussion on the best format for a writing workshop, with many people preferring at least a day-long workshop to get the most benefit, although shorter workshops also have a place. The group was evenly divided on whether a pre-meeting, post-meeting, or two-session workshop during the body of the annual meeting was preferable—no option will work for everyone. We might work with the Cabin to host a day-long workshop either before or after the meeting, with local writers invited to attend as well a AFS members, and have Kim do a shorter session or reading or keynote during the meeting.

Sue Eleuterio proposed an open mic session, either during the day or in the evening, which could be combined with a guest reading by our featured writer. Susan Isaacs said she could help organize a reading panel in Nashville, but was not sure she would be at the Boise meeting. If we do a reading panel, someone needs to organize it.

Duties and Appointment of Section Conveners: A draft of duties for the senior and junior section co-conveners was presented and approved (attachment A). It will be posted on the section’s web site. Sue Eleuterio volunteered to serve as junior co-convener for next year with incoming senior convener Andrea Graham.

Treasury: The current treasury of the section as of August 31 was $180.20, but the money is invested by the society and has lost about 15% in value with the recent financial crisis. There was a discussion about ways to add to the treasury besides membership dues; suggestions included printing a chapbook as a fundraiser, hosting benefit readings or slams, and having $5 (or more) of workshop fees per workshop attendee come to the section. (Five dollars per attendee at this year’s Collage Writing Workshop comes to the Section; $20 per person goes to the workshop leader, Susan Tichy). Funding for a guest writer next year can come from registration fees or possibly the Idaho Commission on the Arts. Jens Lund recommended letting the treasury build up for awhile until we have enough to do something substantial.

Other Activities: The section could host a weekend or weeklong writing workshop during the year some time, possibly working with Joanne Mulcahy. In the past there have been writing workshops for folklorists at regional meetings in the west and in New York state. This regional model could be expanded through existing regional academic and public folklore associations and conferences. There could also be informal weekend gatherings of writers on a regional basis. There are existing writing workshops that might be of interest to members, such as one at Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky, and the Writing Culture workshop organized by Joanne Mulcahy through Lewis & Clark College in Portland; links to these could be posted on our web site.

Other topics that people were interested in were children’s writing, and play and script writing. Sue Eleuterio mentioned the Neighborhood Writing Alliance and the Journal of Ordinary Thought, which conducts local writing workshops on selected themes. They could help organize a community writing session at AFS, similar to the folklore and education workshops. Topics might include interviewing, family history, or stories. Their web site is jot.org. Peggy will email Section members and ask them to send us details on the Section’s Folkwriters listserv about these groups and journals.

For the Good of the Order: Peggy remarked that in the four years of its existence, the section has organized a number of sessions, sponsored writing workshops, and there is now a published book of creative writing by folklorists. Thanks and acclamation to Peggy as a founder of the section and for her three years of service as a convener.

Those Attending: Frank de Caro, Cece Conway, Sue Eleuterio, Andrea Graham, Charlie Groth, Nic Hartmann, Darcy Holtgrave, Susan Isaacs, Steve Kruger, Keith Ludden, Jens Lund, Mary Magoulick, Laura Marcus, Deeksha Nagar, Theresa Osborne, Jo Radner, Alice Shaughnessy-Begay, Jacqueline Thursby, Libby Tucker, Bryan Warner, Georgia Wier, Peggy Yocom, Steve Zeitlin

Meeting adjourned at 1:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Andrea Graham



Minutes of the Third Meeting of the Folklore and Creative Writing Section of AFS

Thursday, 18 October 2007, 12 noon 1:30pm Portneuf Room

            American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in Quebec City, Quebec

Peggy Yocom (myocomATgmu.edu)
[Amy Skillman (skillmanATculturalpartnerships.org) couldn’t be present]

We listened to several brief introductions by people who had never attended this Section’s meetings before: who we are, what we write.

Readings. Peggy opened the meeting by asking the first person who signed up to read from her writings: Laurel Horton, from “Belief and the Quilt Researcher’s Rage,” in Uncoverings 2007.

-- Peggy read Frank DeCaro’s note about The Folklore Muse manuscript: Frank heard from John Alley of Utah State University Press that the manuscript (nearly thirty folklorists’ poetry, short stories, parts of novels, memoirs and other non fiction, and drama) receives a positive review from ints first reader. He’ll keep us informed. Frank suggests the Section “try to support a regular publication (annual? bi-annual?) for folklorists’ creative efforts. Could be in print or on-line.”
-- Eileen Condon told us she didn’t get as many submissions as she had hoped and that she was planning another call for submissions to her proposed Poetry of Ethnography book.
-- Peggy urged members to attend these sessions the Section is sponsoring at AFS this year: free workshop by Jo Radner, "Storytelling Techniques for Creative Writers" Friday 19 October, 3:30-5:15; forum Take Your Pencil for a Walk: Adventures in Creative Writing 1:30-3:15pm.
-- Peggy told the Section how well her ballad and creative writing panel (“Secrets, Betrayals, and Half-Told Tales: Writing Under the Spell of the Traditional Ballads”) was received at the AWP Conference in Atlanta February 2007. The Section agreed to sponsor a re-staging of this panel at AFS 2008 in Louisville.
-- We reminded each other of additional panels, forums of interest to creative writers at AFS this year: Crowley Concert and more.

We discussed future activities.
-- CeCe Conway urged us to keep working with the Crowley Concert, organized by the Storytelling Section
-- We discussed the kinds of workshops we’d most like to have at AFS. Some wanted to make sure that the workshops be process not product-oriented. Some spoke for a collaborative writing workshop. Some suggested that we invite an author to AFS who would read, in advance, the work of those who sign up for the workshop. Jo Radner suggested that a workshop could be based on a storytelling model she practices: writers in a workshop would read each other’s work in advance, and at the workshop they would ask each other “What works for you? Why did you do xx?”
-- Peggy described a collaborative writing workshop that her George Mason University colleague Susan Tichy could do during AFS 2008. (Susan will be at AFS for the ballad and creative writing panel). The Section agreed to sponsor this.
-- We discussed having a place on the AFS website where a Section member could post a piece of writing and then others could post their comments. No one volunteered to begin this.
-- Peggy agreed to gather Section members’ bios and put them on her Folklore & CW section website.

On the structure of our section.
-- Dues. We voted to ask for the lowest amount of annual dues possible, $5.00 a year. (All ayes, one nay).
-- We have $180 that we earned at the Crowley Concert readings last year. We voted to pay $25 for the translation of Jo Radner’s forum on storytelling and creative writing.
-- We decided to have two conveners who will serve for two years each, one off-set from the other by a year. So we’ll always have one senior convener and one junior convener. Peggy agreed to stay on as senior convener from Nov 2007 to Nov 2008. Andrea Graham agreed to be junior convener from Nov 2007 to Nov 2008, and senior convener from Nov 2008 to Nov 2009.

Reading. We closed the meeting with Leslie Prosterman’s reading of her poem “Transit.”

Those attending: Isaac Akrong, CeCe Conway, Janine Criswell, Sue Eleuterio, Nicole Eugene, Andrea Graham, Nic Hartmann, Darcy Holtgrave, Laurel Horton, Darrel Holnes, Steve Kruger, Jon Lee, Jens Lund, Bill McCarthy, Ellen McHale, Theresa Osborne, Becky Penick, Leslie Prosterman, Jo Radner, Sara Reith, Riki Saltzman, Patricia Sawin, Jeff Titon, Zulfiya Tuksunova, Peggy Yocom.

Those here in heart, having sent messages to the conveners: Frank DeCaro, Anne Pryor, Amy Skillman.

Respectfully submitted,
Peggy Yocom (myocomATgmu.edu)



Minutes of the Second Meeting of the Folklore and Creative Writing Section of AFS

Thursday, 19 October 2006   12 noon - 1:30pm Room: Executive A

            American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Peggy Yocom convened the meeting.


Peggy circulated an attendance sheet with e-mail addresses, and she’ll add those who would like to the FOLKWRITERS listserve she manages at George Mason University. Those attending: Laurel Horton, Steve Kruger, Eren Giray, Jens Lund, Michael Jung, Jenn Horn, Faye McMahon, Nicole Eugene, Sue Eleuerio, Andrea Graham, Steve Zeitlin, Kindra Foster, Bill McCarthy, Kristiana Willsey, Jo Radner, Cathy Preston, Sheila Bott.


Minutes from the previous Section meeting, 2005, Atlanta.

Peggy distributed the 2005 minutes and corrected one item: People can belong to any AFS section without being a member of AFS.


Readings: Our section meeting started once again with readings. Laurel Horton read from her non-fiction project “My life as a quilt.”



 Sue Eleuterio urged people to come to the session with novelist Mahmoud Saeed

 Faye McMahon, Acquisitions Editor for Voices: Journal of New York Folklore hopes to establish a column for creative writing. Short pieces: 1000-4000 words is the usual length. Photo essays, also. Urges people to submit. She’s open to different forms, especially non-fiction and poetry. Rolling deadlines. She encourages writers to send a draft and ask if it’s what Voices wants. Faye reminds us that Steve Zeitlin writes a regular column for Voices.


Activities. We discussed the activities we’d like:

– More writing workshops. Let’s try one small focused workshop during AFS; maybe even two. Sessions before and after AFS are difficult for some because of the additional expense of an additional night, etc.

– Hold a forum on where to publish our creative writings. Steve and Faye volunteer. (After the meeting, they ask to be relieved of this task).

– Put a bibliography of our creative writing on our website. Peggy volunteers to send out request to the listserve; will try to do this in coming year.

– Put an annotated list of readings, something like “Folklorists recommend Writer X’s Novel Novel because . . .  Peggy volunteers to canvass the listserve; will try to do this in coming year.


Have an official members list?

            Most attenders agreed. Such a list would encourage people to stay active, facilitate sending timely news to everyone.



            We discussed what we could do if we assessed dues: a book exhibit, a prize, travel money for graduate students, money to defray cost of writing workshop.

            Tim Lloyd recommends that sections establish dues only when they have a clear purpose for the money.


Readings, at the close of the meeting:

– Bill McCarthy read two poems: “The Birthday Horse” and “Papageno Wampanoag”

– Jo Radner read a poem: “My Great-Great-Grand Uncle’s Bone-handled Jackknife”

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Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting of the Folklore and Creative Writing Section of AFS

Thursday, 20 October 2005   12 noon - 1:30pm Peachtree Room

            American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia

Peggy Yocom (myocomATgmu.edu) and Amy Skillman (skillmanATculturalpartnerships.org)

Readings. Peggy and Amy opened the meeting by asking the first three people who signed up to read from their writings: Jeff Todd Titon, Laurel Horton, and Peggy Yocom.

Introductions. Everyone who attended introduced themselves and told of their creative writing.

We discussed future activities to further our writing together:

  • Readings at AFS, alone or in conjunction with Folklore and Lit or Storytelling Sections. Perhaps a late afternoon open mike with an open bar, and a pre-event sign-up.
  • Writers Workshops at AFS. Ask Joanne Mulcahy and Kirin Narayan.
  • Panels at AFS on writing, creative writing, ethnographic writing?
  • Writers Workshops for Folklorists at meeting of Association of Writers and Writing Programs
  • Panels at AWP.
  • Listserve. Peggy volunteered to set this up.
  • Bibliography of creative writing by folklorists (and anthropologists)
  • Annotated bibliography of writers we like whose work involves traditional materials
  • Website, with links to resources on the web and short bios of each of us. Peggy volunteered to make a website.
  • Ways to share news and information (such as what journals publish creative work like ours)?

We discussed the structure we want for our section:

  • Two conveners who serve for three years. We will elect a new two-some in the third year so they can learn from the first group
  • We want to discuss dues next year.
  • Membership is open to any member of AFS


  • Frank deCaro distributed his call for writings for his book of creative writing by folklorists.
  • Peggy handed out information about her panel on creative writing and folklore to be held at AWP in Austin March 2006. Norma Cantú is one of the participants.
  • Peggy handed out information about her course for Spring 2006 "Living Words: Folklore and Creative Writing"

Readings: We closed with three readings: Annie Pryor, Jackie Thursby, and Jo Radner.

Attending were Karen Baldwin, Christina Barr, Erica Brady, Frank deCaro, Doris Dyen, Margaret Glass, Andrea Graham, Laurel Horton, Susan Isaacs, Ellen McHale, Kathryn Morgan, Ruth Olson, Sue Peznecker, Cathy Preston, Anne Pryor, Jo Radner, Amy Skillman, Jackie Thursby, Jeff Titon, John Wolford, and Peggy Yocom.

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