Tag Archives: OMI International Arts Center

A year of reading

(and writing and applying…)

Hey, 2014 has been a pretty good year. Here are a few numbers* (it’s that time of year, right?)

1 move (to NYC)
2 stories published (White Snake, Green Snake in Fairy Tale Review and What Is Lost in Interfictions)
12 stories/projects in various stages (around 6 finished but probably in need of editing)
1 residency at Omi International Arts Center
1 fellowship at The Center for Fiction
3 readings (2 upstate, 1 in NYC)
5 states visited (RI, MA, CA, PA, DE)
18 job interviews
2 jobs
2 interviews (here & here)
15 blog posts (including this one!)
1 bicycle
1 Chinese conversation meetup attended
2 upstate hikes (Harriman State Park, Cold Spring) + more SF hikes
1 cat fashion show attended
2 bowling nights
6 plays seen (Stage Kiss, The Killer, Indian Ink, The Cottage, Wicked Frozen, Pocatello)
3 movies seen in theaters/does Central Park count? (American Hustle, Interstellar, The Royal Tenenbaums)
7 museums visited (The Met, MoMA, The Brooklyn Museum, Noguchi, Sculpture Center, Rubin, Museum of Chinese in America…I have a feeling I’m forgetting some…)
many new-to-me parks and gardens (Riverside, Astoria Park, Socrates Sculpture Park, Gantry State Park, Prospect Park, McCarren Park, SF Botanic Gardens, Oakland’s Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens)
and…
65 books read! Here’s this year’s list:

1. Five Star Billionaire-Tash Aw
2. Tenth of December- George Saunders
3. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt- Aimee Bender (re-read)
4. A Natural History of Dragons- Marie Brennan
5. Soul Mountain- Gao Xingjian (didn’t finish)
6. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.- Adelle Waldman
7. The Color Master- Aimee Bender
8. The Magician’s Assistant- Ann Patchett
9. The Isle of Youth- Laura Van Den Berg
10. Tyrannia- Alan DeNiro
11. Ha’Penny- Jo Walton
12. The Defining Decade- Meg Jay (NF)
13. Love in the Time of Algorithms- Dan Slater (NF)
14. Super Sad True Love Story- Gary Shteyngart
15. Maddaddam- Margaret Atwood
16. Love Minus Eighty- Will Mcintosh
17. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children- Ransom Riggs
18. On Such a Full Sea- Chang-rae Lee
19. The Interestings- Meg Wolitzer
20. Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather- Gao Xingjian (didn’t finish)
21. The Love Story of a Young Monk- Wang Zengqi
22. Fairy Tale Review- 10th anniversary Emerald Issue
23. The Corpse Exhibition and other stories of Iraq- Hassan Blasim
24. A Thousand Morons- Quim Monzo
25. Gone to the Forest- Katie Kitamura
26. The Inheritance of Loss- Kiran Desai
27. The Tiger’s Wife- Tea Obreht
28. Boy, Snow, Bird- Helen Oyeyemi
29. East, West- Salman Rushdie
30. 2013 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellows Anthology
31. The Cat’s Table- Michael Ondaatje
32. Soy Sauce for Beginners- Kirstin Chen
33. Running in the Family- Michael Ondaatje (NF)
34. Free Food for Millionaires- Min Jin Lee
35. Arcadia- Tom Stoppard (re-read)
36. Hark! A Vagrant- Kate Beaton
37. The Longshot- Katie Kitamura
38. The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold- Kate Bernheimer
39. Horse, Flower, Bird- Kate Bernheimer
40. The Enchantress of Florence- Salman Rushdie
41. Bellweather Rhapsody- Kate Racculia
42. The Snow Child- Eowyn Ivey
43. Fourth of July Creek- Smith Henderson
44. Prayers for the Stolen- Jennifer Clement
45. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle- Haruki Murakami
46. Cementville- Paulette Livers
47. The Enchanted- Rene Denfeld
48. The Beautiful Indifference- Sarah Hall
49. I Capture the Castle- Dodie Smith (re-read)
50. The Great Glass Sea- Josh Weil
51. Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal- Ava Chin (NF)
52. 2014 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellows Anthology
53. Whistling Vivaldi- Claude M. Steele (NF)
54. In Persuasion Nation- George Saunders
55. State of Wonder- Ann Patchett
56. Dataclysm- Christian Rudder (NF)
57. Disgrace- J.M. Coetzee
58. Bossypants- Tina Fey (NF)
59. Chocolat- Joanne Harris
60. The Reprisal- Laudomia Bonanni, translated by Susan Stewart & Sara Teardo
61. This Is Where I Leave You- Jonathan Tropper
62. Stone Mattresses- Margaret Atwood
63. The Emerald Light in the Air- Donald Antrim
64. The Land of Steady Habits- Ted Thompson
65. The Invention of Exile- Vanessa Manko

*numbers may not be completely accurate due to author’s imperfect memory. Random additions or subtractions may be added.

Happy new year!

NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship

Just wanted to announce that I’ve been awarded an NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship at the Center for Fiction! It’s really an amazing opportunity and I’m very excited about it; they chose 9 people out of 470 applicants and I’ll be getting workspace at the Center! They’ll be holding a reading of last year’s fellows on Monday, the 19th, and also announcing the 2014 fellows. I’m really looking forward to meeting the other fellows.

I also wanted to post some photos from my time at Omi. One is a group shot with a bunch of us outside Ledig House (I miss you all, friends!) and the other is from the reading we did in Hudson. It feels like a different world upstate. (Sorry, they are blurrier than expected!) 10176068_10152321536183971_7168411616909287117_n 10301543_10152321766058971_602426290214495578_n

The Catskills in the distance

Outside my bathroom window, I notice the delicate shapes of tender red leaves unfurling from the boughs of the japanese maple. Out by the kitchen, the azaleas are blooming, a clear pastel hue between pink and purple. The deer congregate in the fields below Ledig House in groups of 4 or more; they lie down and you can just tell them from their ears. It is still bright when we sit down to dinner at 7:30pm yet by 10 in the evening, it feels late, due to the utter darkness around, and the solitude. Y. and L., the ones who arrived with me, left last week and the place feels a bit lonelier without them although there are new arrivals with new stories, of ayahuasca and stalkers, and an explanation of what book scouts do. P1110609 IMG_20140503_185832

I try to bike to Chatham but at a crossroads, turn the correct way but then doubt myself when I see signs for Old Ghent and rolling hills. I turn around and go up the other road before turning around again. A huge empty barn stands by the side of the road and along the way, there are signs for hand-gathered farm fresh eggs for $3/dozen. The Columbia Paper is a tiny house and the local fire department’s clam bake is cancelled because “MOTHER NATURE STOLE THE CLAMS.” A brown hawk, in a small field off Old Post Road, flaps heavily away, when I startle it. When I go running, I am sometimes recognized by the friendly locals (“You flew by us on Quinn!”) but not by the dogs, like the black lab that runs alongside the road on the way to the pigs. The piebald horse, L. said, is a bully, but he comes close to be pet.IMG_20140505_094541 IMG_20140505_095133 P1110612

And here, I am writing a story about Yangshuo and its mountains, so different from the Catskills off in the distance. It feels odd to be writing in a place this quiet and empty about a place that was often filled with people, even out in the countryside. Where you would see tourists wandering around the lotus fields and so many more bicyclists riding by the side of the road. I am often the only one of the road here and when the trucks pass, they leave behind clouds of dust. Funny how hilly it is here where the mountains are in the distance and how flat the terrain of Yangshuo with the mountains so close. The flowers, though, are finally blooming and although it hailed recently, while A.A. and I were running, that’s just the mercurial nature of spring, right? I heard a warbler testing out several different songs and the international residents are delighted by the turtles in the pond. I discovered a new sculpture yesterday, down a path by the marsh I hadn’t known was there. I still love how the groundhogs move, their chubby furry bodies close to the ground as they clamber into their holes then pop up to look to see if we are still there. And the breathy squeaking of chipmunks. These are the things that China and New York City do not have. These are the things I will miss.P1110620 P1110623 P1110626

Country Living at Omi

At Omi, the weather is changeable but the wind often howls outside the windows, high as we are, on a hill overlooking the sculpture park. Young frogs cheep loudly, both during the day and at night, and when the sun sets, it outlines the Catskills in the distance in orange and pink. After dinner, we drink wine and talk by the fire. Once, while it snowed, we drove through winding unlit roads to a bar in a Victorian, neon Budweiser signs in the window. Inside were floral curtains and garlands of fake flowers for Easter, drinks almost half the price of ones in the city. How long has this bar been open, we asked its owner of 37 years. Since the end of Prohibition, she said, and we were the first to sell hot wings around here. On the trip back, three deer bounded across the road, their eyes reflecting our headlights back at us.P1110545

During the day, our home is a converted barn. My room has two twin beds turned into a king, a large wooden table as a desk. In the bathroom, the water smells of sulfur, most strongly when you shower. My room is warmer than the rest of the suite. Upstairs, the rooms have loft spaces to sleep in. During the summer, when this place is for artists, they sleep two or three to a room but in the spring, the writers have more space and less company. Ants wander freely through the kitchen in the main house and once, a hawk soared overhead, barely out of reach. I take runs in a 3.5 mile loop, passing pig pens and cows, beautiful young horses and an occasional groundhog, its small pointed face wary as it watches me from a hole by the pumphouse. In the barn is a silo where we lose ping pong balls in its dark depths and also, studios, some completely empty but for birdshit, and some full with pottery equipment, bicycles, strange machinery. IMG_20140421_134146 P1110595

The sculpture park is set on swampland and there are patches of skunk cabbage everywhere. I sometimes write in the Visitors Center cafe but mostly in my room or the main house. I’ve been here for over two weeks now and have written two pieces: one a longer story set in Harbin, the other a piece of flash fiction adhering closely to the Searching for the Sun folktale. There’s so much here that I’d like to read, not only the books in the library with books by previous residents including Kiran Desai, Gary Shteyngart, and others, but also the books written by the other residents who are here with me. On the weekends so far, we’ve gotten guests from publishing houses, first Jill from Archipelago Books and this weekend, Chad and Kaija from Open Letter and the blog, Three Percent. Both these presses deal mostly with translated work since we have a fair number of translators in residence here and it’s been fascinating hearing about the process of translation and its place in publishing.

This weekend, we did a poetry reading at the Chatham bookstore, many of the works read in different languages. It was a fun gathering and included a young boy who recited a Latin “rage-vent poem” which was amazing. I read my poem, If/then, which I thought was somewhat suitable since it’s about Chinese although I wish I’d had something to read in Chinese since so many people were speaking other languages and it was just fascinating to hear.

The time has been going very quickly, despite what seem like fairly long unstructured days. I’m hoping to get several more first drafts of stories done before I go. It’s a good thing I have ~2 more weeks!

Writers OMI

I’ve only recently arrived at my residency here in upstate New York at the OMI International Arts Center and have already done a reading in Hudson with 7 other amazing writers and translators (from all over the world)! We had a really great crowd (some people were even standing in back) and the space was gorgeous, at the Marianne Courville Gallery. Hudson itself is a lovely city, not run-down at all, and reminds me a bit of cities in Vermont with lots of antique stores and art galleries. I’m really looking forward to exploring it sometime.

I mostly spend my time at Omi which is actually in a much more rural area about 20 minutes away from Hudson. There’s a large sculpture park here which has been fun to wander through. The terrain is so hilly here and you can see the Catskills in the distance. The frogs, at night, cheep louder than crickets and today, the wind is howling something fierce but it’s beautifully warm out. I’m here to work on the collection I started while in China, short stories inspired by Chinese folktales, and I definitely plan on getting a lot done. Which means I should get back to writing…