Reflection: Rene Steinke

The students in the Riggio Program are unique and uniquely talented. Many of them have had unusual life experiences prior to coming to the New School, and they often express a kind of urgency and passion for their education—these students do not want to waste time. I became a member of the Riggio Honors Program faculty in the Spring of 2007, and it has been one of the richest, most rewarding teaching experiences in my career. The students are devoted to writing, and their thinking about language on the larger... Read The Rest →

Reflection: Greil Marcus

I joined the Riggio program in Writing and Democracy in 2007, and with the exception of 2008 have taught in the program every fall semester since. My main responsibility has been the ULEC undergraduate lecture course “The Old Weird America—Music as Democratic Speech, from the Commonplace Song to Bob Dylan.” The theme of the class, which enrolls between 90 and 100 students, with the participation of four to five Writing Program TAs, is the American folk song—including ballads, blues, blackface minstrelsy, and so-called folk-lyric compositions, where hundreds of floating verses... Read The Rest →

Reflection: Liz Axelrod

Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it—don’t cheat with it. —Ernest Hemingway If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper. —T.S. Eliot “Every disappointment is an opportunity in disguise. You’ll overcome this and move on to better things.” This is what your friends tell you when you get those awful declines and rejections. Yes, it may be true, and yes,... Read The Rest →

Reflection: Tom Healy

ASHLAB:  The Ashberyian Panorama Tom Healy One thing we do at AshLab—an ongoing documentary project on the life and work of poet John Ashbery—is make panoramas of Ashbery’s home in Hudson, NY. We can’t get inside Ashbery’s head, but we can put a freeze frame on the Ashberyian domestic interior circa 2013. We are using sophisticated digital cameras, but of course anyone with an iPhone can shoot a pretty cool panorama. What I love is that this now-ubiquitous tool of our culture’s relentless self-documentation has a weird and interesting history... Read The Rest →

Ralph Ortiz: Rikers Island

Ralph Ortiz was born and raised in the Bronx. He is a city employee, a New School student, and a married father of two girls.

Reflection: Mario Alberto Zambrano

I was a dancer before I became a writer. At 30 years old, after a 13-year career, I had developed a penchant for literature and wanted to go back to school. From across the world—I was living in Japan at the time—I searched the Internet for undergraduate programs that could offer something like what I’d heard an MFA program in creative writing was meant to provide. I found the Riggio Program at The New School—it had just started that same year—and it was one of those moments when I felt as... Read The Rest →

Reflection: Nick Broad

I have to say, coming from a mechanical engineering degree into a writing course at a liberal arts college, I was expecting to be the worst writer in class. I took a few starter courses; to my relief and horror, people were asking when to use “an” or “a,” when to put an apostrophe in “who’s,” and what a semi-colon was. These were adults, people who had finished high school and were hoping to be writers in the future. I was dumbfounded. Dad suggested that I try focusing on something... Read The Rest →

Reflection: Leah Iannone

When I decided to join the Riggio Writing and Democracy program in its inaugural year, the word “democracy” scared me—a lot. I actually studied its meanings. It’s not that I didn’t know the definition, but I sensed that it was an idea much bigger than I’d considered. Before the semester started, I had horrible (and quite dramatic) daydreams that the word “democracy” would be worked into most, if not all, sentences—all day, all the time, by everyone I was going to be prepared to use it just as excessively as... Read The Rest →

Profile: Leigh Stein / Naima Asjad

Since its inception at The New School in 2006, the Riggio Honors Program: Writing and Democracy has been a platform of initiation for many young writers. Whether they will go on to become highly published authors is not an issue that occupies their minds. At Riggio, it is all about writing. With established authors and poets as their instructors, Riggio students focus on what they can learn from these mentors; the accomplishment, for many, comes in the form of a clear expression of ideas and in the process of writing... Read The Rest →

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