Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Meet the Instructor: Marija Stajic

 ~ By Catherine Gregoire

            At the Writer’s Center, we love welcoming new members to our ever-expanding community of talented writers, authors, teachers, and literary enthusiasts. This is why we’re especially excited to welcome Marija Stajic, the newest TWC workshop leader!
            Marija comes to TWC with a long literary history. She is the winner of both The Writer’s Center 2014 Undiscovered Voices Fellowship, and the Neoverse Short Story Award (top 20 out of 4000). Her unpublished novel, Refugee and her book of secrets, was a Washington Writer’s and Publishing House 2015 competition finalist. Marija received a BA in Literature from the University of Nis in Serbia, and an MA in International Journalism from American University. She studied fiction at both The George Washington University and The Writer’s Center, and playwriting at HB Studios in New York City. Marija’s work has been published in the Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, South 85, Gargoyle, Epiphany, Lunch Ticket, Inertia literary journals, and in the Defying Gravity and Threads anthologies. Marija is also the author of three collections of poetry in Serbian.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Marija is no stranger to transcultural and transnational experiences. In fact, she says that her time spent living in various countries has made her a better writer. In fact, she plans to draw on her unique background to teach two upcoming Winter/Spring workshops: Multicultural Fiction and How to Build Complex Characters.

The Writer’s Center: Why are you teaching these particular topics? Why are they important to you?

Marija Stajic: “I'm teaching these particular topics because my brilliant former novel teacher, Amin Ahmad, thought that I would do a good job. It is/was something that TWC didn't offer until now. I believe diversity and options in education are always good.”

TWC: How would you say the concept of sharing culture and reaching beyond one’s culture through writing can impact both writer and audience?

MS: “I think people read fiction because it transfers them into different worlds—often ones they would never be able to experience in person. I know that I love to read about cultures I know nothing about. It's mysterious; it's exotic. I feel like I'm learning while I'm hovering over a scene a great writer created—like Junot Diaz of Dominican Republic, Jhumpa Lahiri of India, or Orhan Pamuk of Turkey. I also believe that people should write what only they can write. I happen to have a somewhat unique experience of growing up in the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia under Tito, then living in dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, then surviving NATO bombardment of Serbia, and then immigrating to the United States five years later to start a whole new life. As I recently said to a Serbian journalist who is writing a story about my winning the Neoverse Short Story Writing Competition, I am bilingual, have two college degrees in two languages, and I have two driver's licenses. I had to take a test to become an American citizen. I had to do things twice that most people only do once. I believe these unique experiences make me the writer I am today, for better or worse. Why not share my experiences with people who are interested in hearing about them?” 

TWC: What are you up to next? What are your future plans and goals?

MS: “I will be teaching two TWC courses in January: Complex Characters and Multicultural Fiction. For more than 15 years, I have been teaching Serbo-Croatian and Bosnian languages and literature, but this will be a different kind of teaching. I am excited about it. I look forward to being a part of TWC's community of teachers and writers. I plan on immersing myself into my best teacher-self, and preparing for these courses with energy and enthusiasm. I'm also writing my second novel, The American Sorceress. I'm only at 55,000 words of the first draft, but I am hopeful that after some strenuous and diligent workshopping with my TWC peers, I will be able to find a legitimate publisher for it.” 

We’re excited to have Marija on board to teach these exciting new classes! We believe that just as it has for Marija, an exposure to multiculturalism will make us all more effective writers. We hope you can join her in January! Click here for course registration information.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Spotlight on Literary Events: December 2016

Friday, December 2nd, 7:30 pm
Folger Shakespeare Library
201 E Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Given since 1988 in honor of the late Bernard Malamud, this award recognizes a body of work demonstrating excellence in the art of short fiction. This year we will honor Joy Williams, a writer known for her crisp prose, grim wit, and unsparing explorations of the dark side of hope. Tickets are $25. Discounted tickets for students, seniors and military members are available.

Monday, December 5th, 6:30 pm
Busboys and Poets 14th and V
2021 14th St NW Washington, DC 20009
Join April Ryan, Joy-Ann Reid, Mary Frances Berry, Wes Moore, Cornell Belcher, and Avis Jones DeWeever for the fourth in an ongoing series of discussions focusing on race in America. Event is free.

Tuesday, December 6th, 12:00 pm-1:30 pm
Library of Congress-Whittall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building
101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540
Michael Signer will discuss and sign his new book Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father (Public Affairs, 2015). Cosponsored with the Law Library.

Saturday, December 10th, 10:30 am-12:00 pm
The Writer’s Center
4508 Walsh St, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Join us for a free information session on our Memoir Year Program. Starting February 2, serious memoirists who have completed a draft of their memoir or nonfiction will have the opportunity to workshop their entire manuscript over the course of a year. Event is free.

Sunday, December 11th, 2:00 pm-4:00 pm
The Writer’s Center
4508 Walsh St, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Poets Walter Cybulski, author of Nothing to Say and Saying It, and Piotr Gwiazda, who reads from his recently published third collection, Aspects of Strangers, are joined by The Writer’s Center Undiscovered Voices Fellowship 2014 recipient, Caitlin Reid. She has earned several scholarships to continue her education, including The Gettysburg Review Writer’s Conference and a Murphy Writing Seminar in Wales. Event is free.

Monday, December 12th, 7:30 pm
Folger Shakespeare Library
201 E Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Co-sponsored with the Poetry Society of America
“The surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.”                                                                                                                                  —Toi Derricotte
Tickets are $15.

Tuesday, December 13th, 7:00 pm-9:00 pm
Upshur St. Books
827 Upshur St NW Washington, DC 20011
Paul Freedman (Ten Restaurants that Changed America) and Robert Simonson (A Proper Drink) are coming to Upshur Street Books for a moderated talk about the history of fine dining and fine drinking in America. $6 tickets include a cocktail, the perfect pairing for discussing fine fare and libations.

Wednesday, December 14th, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm
Busboys & Poets-Takoma
235 Carroll St NW, Washington, DC 20012
COME HEAR IT AT THE GRAPEVINE @ Busboys and Poets, Takoma SECOND WEDNESDAYS @ 7:30 PM! Tim Livengood and Noa Baum host The Grapevine Spoken Word Series. Celebrate the timeless Art of Storytelling, with Truths, Folktales, Rumors, and everything in between! $15 suggested Donation.

Thursday, December 15th, 7:00 pm-8:30 pm
Upshur St. Books
827 Upshur St NW Washington, DC 20011

Friday, December 16th, 6:00 pm-7:30 pm
Epicure Café
11104 Lee Highway Fairfax, VA 22030
Cathy Cruise received her MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and her BA in English from Radford University. Her fiction has appeared in American Fiction Volume 14, Blue Mesa Review, New Virginia Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Phoebe. Event is free.

Friday, December 16th, 6:15 pm
Shakespeare Theater Company @ Sidney Harman Hall
610 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Bring one (or more) of your beloved children's books and exchange them for new favorites. Light refreshments provided! This event is a part of Family Week, seven days of free and low-cost programming that celebrates The Secret Garden. Event is free with RSVP.

Saturday, December 17th, 12:00 pm-5:00 pm
The Writer’s Center
4508 Walsh St, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
On this day 40 years ago, The Writer’s Center first opened its doors, and has been inspiring and supporting an extraordinary community of writers ever since. Celebrate with a day of readings, speed dating with editors (members only), and a book fair. Workshop leaders and staff will be on hand to offer advice and help you select gifts for all of the readers in your life. Stay for birthday cake and a glass of holiday cheer! Event is free and open to all.

Sunday, December 18th, 2:00 pm-4:00 pm
The Writer’s Center
4508 Walsh St, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Come share your writing at open mic! Sign-up for readers starts at 1:30 and the reading starts at 2:00. Event is free.

Sunday, December 18th, 2:00 pm-4:00 pm
The Writer’s Center
4508 Walsh St, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Come share your writing at open mic! Sign-up for readers starts at 1:30 and the reading starts at 2:00. Event is free.
The Writer’s Center presents a reading and publication party for Martin Galvin’s A Way to Home: New and Selected Poems (Poet’s Choice Press). Poets Rod Jellema and Liz Hazen will read from the collection, and will be joined by two of Galvin’s grandsons, Davis Galvin Curry and James Joseph Curry.