Creative Writing at The New School

The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics has announced MFA student Raven Jackson (class of 2014) as the winner for their annual Art Collection Writing Award! Here's their note about this year's theme and the fierceness of the competition:

New School MFA Student Raven Jackson

In a first, this year’s competition applied an expanded notion of “essay,” and accepted non-text based, visual entries. Submissions were garnered from across four New School divisions–Parsons, Lang, NSPE, and NSSR–by students from such diverse programs as Urban Design, the Institute of Retired Professionals, Economics, Creative Writing, Poetry, Politics, Anthropology, Sociology, and Fine Arts. Like the Art Collection itself, the award provided a cross-divisional platform for creative and critical thinking and making.

Award winners actively engaged The New School Art Collection–a distinctive component of the educational experience at The New School–and found inspiration in the Vera List Center’s 2011-2013 focus theme, “Thingness.” Addressing this theme deftly by focusing on the material aspects of art, the winning submissions honor the conclusion of the current thematic issue before the Vera List Center upcoming, 2013-2015 focus theme, “Alignment.”

Brice Marden "Untitled #4"

Raven Jackson's winning poem “Mississippi” is printed below. About the process of writing her poem she said:

While preparing to write a poem inspired by Brice Marden’s Untitled #4 tile, I constantly looked at the image. I got lost in it. There are so many stories that little tile wants to tell. In the top right hand corner, there’s a couple kissing under a chandelier. In the bottom left, a face peeking out from black. But were these people, faces, really there? Or were my eyes creating them out of negative space and lines? I found that aspect of the tile so intriguing and constantly thought of it as I began to write. Nothing’s made clear in the tile—it’s all so smoky. And as “Mississippi” formed, I wanted to bring “smoke” from Marden’s piece into my poem. And in a way, through tone and imagery, I think I did.



Flames red as pepper skins
licked our porch. Popping windows

like pecans in Mama’s hands.
The shells tiny bones rolling

on the floor. And when beams
fell from the roof like giants,

I almost heard her voice, sweet
as pomegranate seeds laid down

in soil. Their roots opening
like hands. Letting something go.


About The Author

Founded in Greenwich Village in 1931, Creative Writing at The New School continues to promote, engender, and shape innovative literature.