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Holly Payne ’97 today, fully healed 15 years after surviving a drunk driving accident. Photo credit Cindi Kinney.

Writing to Forgive

February 23, 2010

"If I am alive, I am going to write." Holly Payne '97 spoke these words as she lay on the edge of a road beside a cemetery. Seconds earlier, she stopped to assist two stranded cyclists. A passing pickup truck struck all…

Auteur Rockstar Strikes A Chord

Auteur Rock Star Strikes a Chord

February 11, 2010

Listening to a brooding cello concerto, the writer strikes the keyboard as he begins his short story or book. He begins, yet does not know where it will end until he arrives there. "You know, it's hard for me to do this -- to…

Illustration by Rick Cortes.

The Magic Poetry Bus

January 27, 2010

I grew up within poetry — the sound of my mother’s voice reciting Great Poems. The poetry she recited was canonical: Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson, Dickinson, Longfellow — but the way she told these poems…

Distinguished Professor of English Percival Everett. Photo credit Philip Channing. Story printed with permission from the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>.

In & Out of Fiction

January 27, 2010

Percival Everett doesn’t spend a lot of time considering his body of work. Instead, says the 52-year-old author, whose new novel I Am Not Sidney Poitier (Graywolf, 2009) came out in June, “I think about writing one…

John Treleaven as Siegfried and Linda Watson as Brünnhilde in "Siegfried." Photo by Monika Rittershaus, courtesy of LA Opera.

Reveling in the Ring

January 15, 2010

Every Saturday afternoon a 9-year-old boy plunks down next to his father and together they listen. The radio dial properly adjusted, a broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's production of Puccini's La Bohème begins. A…

From left, Becca Klaver, (B.A., creative writing, '03); Paul Legault, (B.A., screenwriting, '07); and Juliana Wang, (B.A., creative writing, '07).

Taking a Poetic Path

November 17, 2009

The question is often asked, What does one do with a bachelor's degree in creative writing? In USC College, the answer is plenty. Many go on to publish books of poetry or fiction. Some go on to teach writing, become editors or…

Carol Muske-Dukes, professor of English in USC College, was appointed California Poet Laureate by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Photo credit Carlos Puma.

Elegant Elocution

August 10, 2009

"I write poetry because I have no choice. I've always been haunted by words, by the music of words," said Carol Muske-Dukes, professor of English and California Poet Laureate. A prominent and influential contemporary poet,…

The Writer in the Community

Author, Author!

July 23, 2009

Fourth grader Alex Flores clamps down hard on his pencil to finish his story that begins, "One day I came to school and no one was there." In his tale, Alex turns invisible and hears Mario singing the SpongeBob SquarePants…

T.C. Boyle, author of "World’s End," "The Tortilla Curtain" and most recently, "The Women," has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Photo credit Philip Channing.

Wit Gets Its Due

April 16, 2009

The hours of early-morning writing, the meticulous construction of his characters' psyches and the unmitigated need to research, chronicle and give contemporary America a good dose of wry wit, have again paid off for writer…

Shakespeare scholar Bruce Smith stands in front of the “spatial relations alphabet” and holds up a clay ball with the same symbols. He uses the unusual alphabet to jolt his students into looking at language differently. Photo credit Taylor Foust.

‘Thou Whoreson Zed! Thou Unnecessary Letter!’

April 7, 2009

Although Shakespeare is famous for his cerebral language, USC College's Bruce Smith wants his students to absorb the Bard with not only their minds — but their entire bodies. The Dean's Professor of English…