|Folklore and Creative Writing Section|
Many members of the American Folklore Society have an abiding interest in creative writing. Recent productions include, for example, a novel by Betty Belanus; the theater work of Elaine Lawless and her students; the nonfiction of Barry Lopez; and the poetry of Susan Stewart and Steven Zeitlin. Joanne Mulcahy of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, sponsors a summer workshop on creative writing and ethnography. A recent issue of the Journal of American Folklore published works in creative ethnography. And in October 2008, Utah State University Press published The Folklore Muse: Poetry, Fiction, and Other Reflections by Folklorists, edited by Frank deCaro.
Folklorists have long studied the creative forms of others: cowboy, logger, and fisher poetry, for example. With this section, we hope to highlight the talents of folklorists, provide an opportunity for dialogue, and consider how creative writing has influenced the field of folklore—what we do and how we do it—and how folklore influences creative writers. We also believe that our work with creative writing will broaden public awareness of folklore and of the issues folklorists explore.
The AFS Folklore and Creative Writing Section, created in March 2005, intends to (1) gather folklorists with an interest in creative writing; (2) hold regular panels and events, such as readings and section-sponsored speakers, at the AFS annual meeting; (3) provide support for folklorists who write, teach, or organize workshops in poetry, drama, fiction writing, creative non-fiction writing, and more; (4) provide educational opportunities for folklorists who want to improve their creative writing skills; (5) publicize and promote the creative performance folklorists are doing, such as the theater piece that immigrant women are creating with the sponsorship of the Institute for Cultural Partnerships; (6) create additional venues for the publication and performance of creative writing by folklorists; (7) establish dialogues between AFS and creative writing associations, such as the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, by sponsoring panels at their conferences; and (8) work with the Storytelling Section of AFS on programs of mutual interest.
The section holds an annual meeting during the annual AFS conference, maintains a listserv among section members, and maintains this web page. Margaret Yocom of George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia; and Amy Skillman of the Institute of Cultural Partnerships, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, served as founding conveners for the section. At the first meeting of the section at the AFS annual meeting in Atlanta in October 2005, members gathered to share their writing and to discuss future AFS sessions and workshops they wanted to organize and sponsor. There, they decided on overlapping two-year terms for two co-conveners. In 2007 members voted to charge annual section dues of $5 to help fund special programs we might want to offer in the future, and in 2008 the dues were raised to $10 (beginning in September 2009), with student dues remaining at $5.
For more information on the Section, including photographs, annual reports, Section member bios, and details on upcoming activities at the AFS annual meeting, please go to Margaret Yocom's web site.
To ask any questions or join the Section's listserv, please e-mail one of the current conveners or founding member Margaret Yocom.