EOT 367- Redbud Writing Project

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Opening the Episode is Technician New's Editors, Abigail, Emily and Heidi. They discuss news and events going on around the Triangle. Following the weekly news, Eye On The Triangle has an interview with the co-founders of the Redbud Writing Project. Arshia Simkin and Emily Cataneo speak on their experiences within the NC State MFA program and the Redbud Writing Project.

Brian Jurado 0:01
The views and opinions expressed on Eye on the Triangle do not represent WKNC or NC State Student Media. Your dial is currently tuned to Eye on the Triangle on WKNC 88.1 FM HD 1 Raleigh. Thank you for listening.

Brian Jurado 0:20
Hello everyone. This is Brian Jurado, the Public Affairs Director here at WKNC and host of Eye on the Triangle. For today's episode of Eye on the Triangle, we are started off with Technician news editors, Abigail, Emily and Heidi as they run through the weekly news. Following the weekly news, Eye on the Triangle has an interview of Redbud Writing School's co founders, Emily Cataneo and Arshia Simkin. So stay tuned.

Abigail Ali 0:53
Hello, guys, welcome back to Eye on the Triangle. This is Abigail Ali, I'm the news editor at Technician. And today I'm here with...

Heidi Reid 1:01
I'm Heidi Reid. I'm one of the assistant news editors.

Emily Vespa 1:04
And I'm Emily Vespa. I'm the other assistant news editor.

Abigail Ali 1:06
And we've brought you some news tidbits from around the Triangle. And, yeah, we'll get into it.

Emily Vespa 1:11
All right, so my first bit is about Avery Danziger, who's a photographer from Chapel Hill. And he'll be exhibiting a collection of film photographs of the North Carolina State Fair and Durham's through the lens- through this lens gallery. So he's been visiting the State Fair since 1972, and these photos commemorate his 50 years of visiting. So throughout these years, he's taken a bunch of film, black and white, and color photos. And they're gonna be exhibited at the Through the Lens gallery, or Through This Lens gallery, sorry, between October 21 and November 12. And he's had his photographs displayed in the Mint Museum in Charlotte, MoMA and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. So it seems like he's a pretty good photographer. So this would be really cool to look at.

Heidi Reid 1:58
That's so cool. He's in the MoMA, that's insane.

Emily Vespa 2:01

Abigail Ali 2:01
Also, that's going to be so cute. Especially because everybody loves film right now. And the fact that like, 50 years worth of film, that'll be really, really cool to see.

Heidi Reid 2:10
He did trend forecasting or something, because like, who was thinking of taking film pictures during the 2000s?

Emily Vespa 2:17
Yeah, it was really interesting. And like, I like, love looking at the archives and stuff. So it was cool, seeing like, how the State Fair has changed and what it looked like back in like, 1970s and stuff.

Abigail Ali 2:29

Heidi Reid 2:30

Abigail Ali 2:30

Heidi Reid 2:31
I'm sure it's changed a ton just since the 70s alone, so that'll be super cool.

Abigail Ali 2:34
Yeah, literally, my mom, I just went with her and like, she was growing up in the 70s. And she was literally just talking about, like, how different it was when she was little, because it was so, like a lot fewer things to do there and stuff. It was pretty much just like Dorton Arena. And so she was, yeah. That's actually really cool that there's like a presentation of that. I probably should show her that once it's online.

Heidi Reid 2:55

Abigail Ali 2:57
So for my first tidbit, I'm going to be talking about how last weekend, after the Father John Misty concert in Durham, which by the way, DPAC is such a beautiful venue and they had coffee there. I felt so bougie like, walking through and like, I don't know, like the red carpet is just all the vibes. But anyways, after the concert, my friend and I got Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, and I was finally able to understand the hype of this magnificent stuff. For those who don't know, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream is known for its high quality ice cream and its bizarre flavors like wedding cake, watermelon taffy and everything bagel. Jeni's recently opened their spot in Durham, but their ice creams can also be found in pints at Publix, Fresh Market, Wegmans, Harris Teeter, Lowe's and Whole Foods. It was also announced in the spring like, last, right, this past spring, I think, that Jeni's would be opening a location in the Village District. And I can hardly wait for the new one to open, because Jeni's has changed my life for like, forever because I have PCOS and my symptoms are like, triggered by dairy, like really bad, but sometimes I just like, say screw it. I'm gonna get the ice cream, whatever. But Jeni's literally had the best dairy-free ice cream I've ever had, hands down. I wasn't stuck, like, choosing between like, sherbert, and like, or like, being uncomfortable for the next three weeks, or the next three days. Or like, feeling like I'm eating literally just like, ice and air. Like, I'm looking at you Halo Top, that stuff is not good.

Heidi Reid 4:37
Yeah, calling them out.

Abigail Ali 4:39
But Jeni's was so good and so perfect after the concert, and I totally get the hype, and now I'm so excited for the new one.

Emily Vespa 4:47
Wow, what flavor did you get?

Abigail Ali 4:49
It was called sheet cake, but it was like-

Emily Vespa 4:51
Texas sheet cake!

Abigail Ali 4:51

Emily Vespa 4:52
That's such a good flavor.

Abigail Ali 4:53
It was so good.

Emily Vespa 4:53
The second you said dairy free, and you said it was really good. I was like, must have been Texas sheet cake. Yeah. Changed my life.

Heidi Reid 4:59
Did I miss that? Wait, how did you know it was Texas sheet cake?

Emily Vespa 5:01
Because, well, my sister works at Jeni's. She's been working there for like, years.

Heidi Reid 5:02
Oh, okay, okay.

Emily Vespa 5:08
So I go there all the time to see her, and like, well, in Charlotte, I do. And so that's how I know, because I've been going there. But um, I love Texas sheet cake. Another one's like Gooey Butter cake. I think that one has dairy in it. But that's one of my favorites.

Abigail Ali 5:18
I was considering it. But I was like, let me not destroy my gut right now.

Heidi Reid 5:21
Yeah, fair enough.

Emily Vespa 5:21
They have good dairy free. Like, I think they had-

Abigail Ali 5:23
They did.

Emily Vespa 5:24
I can't remember what they had recently that was dairy- I don't know if watermelon taffee was dairy free, but that one was really good.

Abigail Ali 5:30
Ooh. Can't remember. There was a couple of them, but.

Emily Vespa 5:32
They're amazing. And I think one of their holiday flavors is, it's like white chocolate peppermint, and it tastes just like the Chick fil A peppermint milkshakes. And I think it's coming out soon, so that's gonna be exciting.

Abigail Ali 5:44
Yes. That's so exciting.

Heidi Reid 5:46
That sounds so good. I need to try it. Also, here for the Halo Top slander. Why is it so expensive? For what. Someone explain that to me.

Abigail Ali 5:53
So expensive, and I feel like the first time I tried it, it was like, oh my god, this is so good. But recently when I try it, it's like, mmm.

Heidi Reid 5:59
It's just ice cream.

Emily Vespa 6:00

Heidi Reid 6:01
Also, ice cream from like, a little store that's cute, and like, someone scoops it for you. It's just 10 times better than ice cream in a carton, no matter what anyone says.

Emily Vespa 6:08
And their waffle cones are so good. Like they're amazing.

Abigail Ali 6:10
So good.

Emily Vespa 6:11
There, and they're amazing.

Heidi Reid 6:12
There will be a campus thrift open from 11am to 2pm on Saturday, October 22 near the wolf statues and the free expression tunnel. I'm pretty sure that's Wolf Plaza, I could be wrong?

Emily Vespa 6:24
Yeah, I think that's right.

Heidi Reid 6:24
Okay, yeah, where all the skateboarders usually are. Hopefully they'll clear out. Um, all items will be $1, which is a literal steal. And items were donated by both students and stores. And some of them are brand new with tags. More information and updates can be found @NCStateStewards on Instagram. And they held one of these last semester, maybe you popped in, but I went and they had some really cool stuff. But definitely go early since you have the first pick.

Abigail Ali 6:49
Yeah, I went to the one last semester too. And I think I got there too late. It was pretty picked through. But like, I love when there's thrift events on campus.

Heidi Reid 6:59
Right, and everything's $1? Like, are you kidding me? There's some really cool stuff in there for $1. That's nothing. Like you can go find that on Hillsborough in change if you want, you know. Like maybe not, but like, that's so cheap for good clothes, or like, just secondhand, so.

Emily Vespa 7:13
Yeah, definitely. I like went, I was gonna go last year. And then I saw the crowd of people around it. And I was like, actually, I maybe, like, don't really want to go and like, try and get through. I feel like getting through all the people was stressing me out. But I do want to go early this time, so I don't have to deal, hopefully, with as many people, but. Yeah.

Heidi Reid 7:31
Go at 10 am so you get first pick, you don't have to deal with all the people.

Emily Vespa 7:34
Camp out.

Heidi Reid 7:34
Yeah, camp out near the wolves, near the big metal wolves. It'll be fun.

Emily Vespa 7:39
All right. To start off my next tidbit, I have a joke for you guys. So, this is related to my tidbit. Why doesn't Dracula have any friends?

Heidi Reid 7:48
I'm not sure why.

Abigail Ali 7:50
I swear I heard this recently.

Emily Vespa 7:52
Because he's a pain in the neck. Okay, so, the reason I mentioned Dracula is because October 13 through 30th, the Carolina Ballet is performing Dracula. So, I think this is such a great show to watch around Halloween. And they're going to be performing it at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh. And tickets are on sale now. So if you want to see Dracula, I feel like this would be really cool. On the website, it looked like the sets and the costumes and everything looked really, really nice and cool. And so, I think it'd be a really interesting show to watch.

Abigail Ali 7:58
That does sound so much fun. I was just talking to somebody about like, We need to go see a play. Actually, it was the person I went to see Father John Misty with. Because like, DPAC is so just like, bougie and like, very like, very like, I'm going to the opera. So I was like, we need to do something like this. So maybe me and her should go see Dracula,

Emily Vespa 8:42
You totally should.

Heidi Reid 8:43
I bet the costumes are insane, because like, ballet costumes are, and like costumes like that are already so gorgeous, and like the spookiness of it. I wonder if he still wears fake teeth, or like.

Emily Vespa 8:53

Heidi Reid 8:54
Cuz they don't talk in ballets, right? So-

Emily Vespa 8:55
No. So he probably does.

Heidi Reid 8:57
I guess he does wear, I don't know.

Emily Vespa 9:01
I guess you'll have to go and find out.

Heidi Reid 9:01
Yeah, you have to go and find out, is he wearing pointy teeth?

Abigail Ali 9:04
Okay, my next one is for the NC State girlies. And it kind of fits in with Heidi's. Greater Textile Group is hosting one of their iconic clothing swaps on Friday, October 21 at Wilson College of Textiles. Drop off is from 4 to 5:30 and shopping is from 6 to 7pm. For those who have never been to a clothing swap before, they are so much fun. How it works is you bring clothes that you don't want anymore, and you drop them off at the like, swapping site, and however many items you bring is how many credits you have for purchasing purchasing items later. So if you bring like, six items of clothing, you can take six items later at no cost. If you end up taking more items than you brought, you can pay $1 per item. It is honestly one of the funnest ways to thrift in my opinion, and it's really effective. Plus it's cool seeing people pick out clothes that you brought, and like take them out, and they're like so excited to have them. So I highly recommend attending if you have some clothes lying around, which I do, so I will probably try to do this if I have time. If you miss this one, Greater Textiles Group usually hosts a few of these on campus throughout the year. So follow them on Instagram to get updates on when the next swap will be.

Heidi Reid 10:22
Back to back thrifting events, okay.

Emily Vespa 10:25

Heidi Reid 10:25
I actually saw that one on Instagram and had to like, go back and make sure it wasn't the same thing as mine. Because I was like, wow, I missed a lot of information and got the date wrong if it was. But it's not, and this one sounds super cool, too. I've been to a couple of these, I don't know if they were put on by the same people. But it's super cute. Like, seeing someone like, like want something that you brought, because like, that's like real. That's like. Not real life. What's the word, like, new life? To like your old clothes. And you know you never wore them. Like, someone else will wear them and love them. So.

Emily Vespa 10:52
Yeah. I think that's so great that like, you can bring your clothes and like, just get new ones, because it's different than like going, like sometimes I'll go thrift shopping. And then I'll be like, wait, I have like, now I have even more clothes and like, I have to fit this all my closet or something. So it's nice that you can like, get rid of some stuff to make room for the new stuff.

Abigail Ali 11:10

Emily Vespa 11:11
And keep like, you know, like Heidi said like, share the love and give other people's clothes new life.

Abigail Ali 11:16
Yeah, exactly. And I feel like with thrift stores, it's very like, you drop it off, bye. But like, when I've done it, and like seeing people grab stuff and be like, Oh my god, this is so cute. And I'm like, That was mine, I'm so glad you like it. It makes you appreciate thrifting a lot more I think, and it's just more of like, a community thing. And, yeah, I love it. It's really fun.

Heidi Reid 11:36
Yeah, not to mention it's so much better for the environment than shopping basically anywhere else. Even if you're not like, shopping at the big fast fashion brands. Shopping secondhand is just a little step above.

Abigail Ali 11:45
And saves you some money. If you just trade in your stuff, you don't have to buy a singular thing. And if you do, $1. Like we said earlier, $1.

Heidi Reid 11:56
If you go to the clothing swap, you don't have to crawl down Hillsborough street looking for change. It's just free.

Emily Vespa 12:01

Heidi Reid 12:04
Okay, so someone in North Carolina won $1 million in the Mega Millions lottery, and has yet to turn in the ticket. A $2 ticket was purchased at a Handy Mart in Goldsboro, and the winner has six months to claim the prize money. The odds of winning were one in 12.6 million. So basically, no odds. I don't know how they won. And I think it's really cool for, that someone from NC won this, especially with the odds being so low, and hopefully it's someone who actually needs the money. And I understand why someone wouldn't want to publicly claim the ticket, I get that. Did you guys ever see that TLC show and it was like, how the lottery changed my life, and they had like, stalkers, because people wanted their money or something.

Emily Vespa 12:42
I heard of it.

Heidi Reid 12:43
I think about that every time there's a lottery now. Sorry, that was a little off topic. Anyways. But, if you purchased a ticket in Goldsboro please, please go check your ticket and claim your prize, because imagine missing out on $1 million. Just because you didn't check your ticket. Like imagine finding out that was you, like, and it was too late. That'd be so heartbreaking.

Abigail Ali 12:59
Yeah, it would.

Emily Vespa 13:02
That's so true. I like, I feel like I've heard of like, people not claiming it right away, and it's always like, I'm like, cringing for them a little bit because I'm like, please check your ticket. Like, I would be so upset if I found that out.

Heidi Reid 13:02
Yeah, I would definitely like, not show my identity while I claimed it, just because I wouldn't want to be like, harassed and stuff. But yeah, please go claim it, I'm begging you. I'd be in pain.

Emily Vespa 13:24
All right, so my last tidbit is kind of specially for Abigail because she has a dog. But again, this is for any dog lovers or dog owners out there. Barktoberfest is happening on October 22 from 1pm to 4pm in the Compass Rose Brewery in Raleigh. So there's gonna be a dog Halloween costume contest, a dog- or there's gonna be doggie goodie bag giveaways, food trucks, and precious adoptable dogs. All right, and they're also going to be raffling away prizes. So, the first prize is a three night getaway with your pet to Atlantic Beach. So all of the proceeds will go to Love Mutts Rescue, which I think is like, the best part of this, because it's a good cause and you can go and see some really cute dogs, and just have fun, so, yeah.

Abigail Ali 14:06
Oh my god, Emily, guess where I was this weekend?

Emily Vespa 14:09
At Compass Rose Brewery in Raleigh?

Abigail Ali 14:10
No, at Beagle Fest.

Emily Vespa 14:13
That's so cute, did you get pictures?

Abigail Ali 14:15
Yes. I didn't get a ton of pictures but I, yeah, that's where I went this weekend. Me and Sam went. And so like, that's just another one I get to go to.

Emily Vespa 14:24
Aww. Were there like, a lot of beagles?

Abigail Ali 14:26
There were so many. And just because like, Beagles are so chill, like they just don't care. It was like, even though there's like 100 dogs, they were just so like, laid back and not freaking out. So it was so cute. They also had a costume contest and like, it was so cute.

Emily Vespa 14:44
What did you dress your dog up as?

Abigail Ali 14:46
Mine couldn't go, he was sick last week. So unfortunately he couldn't make it. But, next time. And I did get him a bagel coffee cup, so, it's cute. He's fine.

Emily Vespa 14:57
Aww, that's so cute. What's the best costume you saw, you think? At that one?

Abigail Ali 15:02
I don't know if this is the best, but there was one as like a little insurance seller.

Heidi Reid 15:07
Stop, that's so cute.

Abigail Ali 15:07
And then there was like, a cereal killer. And he had like a cereal box on, it was like a butter knife.

Emily Vespa 15:16
That's cute.

Abigail Ali 15:18
Yeah, they were so precious, I was obsessed.

Heidi Reid 15:20
I love dogs in costumes. I am a number one advocate of dogs in costumes. Barktober sounds like a blast.

Abigail Ali 15:26

Heidi Reid 15:29
I'll add it to the list.

Abigail Ali 15:30
We'll never stop.

Emily Vespa 15:31
Yeah, one time I saw a dog, like it was a tiny little white dog, and they got a panda costume for it. And it literally was so cute walking around, because it looked like a little panda was walking around. It was adorable. But I love dog costumes.

Heidi Reid 15:45
Stop, that's so cute. Barktober sounds fun.

Emily Vespa 15:48
Yeah, it does.

Heidi Reid 15:48
I really want to go. Also the name, like.

Abigail Ali 15:50
It's a cute name.

Emily Vespa 15:51
So cute.

Abigail Ali 15:52
Okay, so for my last tidbit, I'm going to be talking about the Women's Social Club. I think it used to be called the Women's Social Club of Raleigh. And I'm pretty sure I've mentioned them up here before, like, a little while ago, but in case you missed it, the Women's Social Club is a national organization focused on providing a place of community and friendship for local women. This is very similar to the Crowded Table Club that I talked about last time you heard us. But these guys have chapters up and down the East Coast and are looking to expand to other areas of the US. The reason I am bringing them up is because they announced this past week that they are opening new chapters in Wake Forest, Durham, Chapel Hill and Apex-Holly Springs. Plus, their already established Raleigh chapter is changing its name to Central NC chapter, which I assume means it will be kind of representing and working with all the entities, like the North Carolina chapters. There are actually a ton of North Carolina chapters of the Women's Social Club. So before I wrap this tidbit up, I will name them all in case you were curious, or like, in some of these areas and like, want to join. So, obviously, there's the one in Raleigh that's getting its name changed. There's the new ones in Wake Forest, Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex-Holly Springs, and then other already existing ones are Asheville, Wilmington, and they're also launching one in Charlotte soon. So, these don't even include the chapters they have that are opening in other states. So yeah, they just have like a lot going on, and a ton of chapters. So maybe check it out, if you like, want, are feeling social and just like, want to join them for a fun event.

Emily Vespa 17:34
That's cool. I like that. I always hear about like, social clubs, and I've never thought of going to one but I kind of want to. I feel like that'd be fun.

Heidi Reid 17:40
I feel like it'll come in handy after we graduate. Because-

Abigail Ali 17:43

Heidi Reid 17:44
-I'm so scared of having no friends. Cuz like, all the friends like, that I've made, basically made my whole life have been through school. So like, how do you make friends as adults? I don't know. I have no idea. And so a social club sounds really good.

Abigail Ali 17:56
Yeah, exactly. And this one, I feel like, I mean, it's similar to last week's, but this one's kind of a different vibe. This one's more like, let's go do hot yoga together, or like, have a book club, and other one's more like themed parties. So like, whichever one works for you. And like, like Heidi was saying, I think these are really good for when people are getting into the professional field. And they're kind of stuck learning how to like, introduce themselves to people and like, finding new people to be around and be friends with. So yeah.

Heidi Reid 18:26
Yeah, that does sound fun. Also, you can just do both. Like, go to a theme party and then go to hot yoga.

Emily Vespa 18:31
No, literally. I would so do that.

Heidi Reid 18:36
So we've already mentioned this, but I wanted to bring it back up. So the State Fair is back this week, it began October 13, and runs through the 23rd. It features rides, really, really, really good food that you can not find anywhere else. I cannot stress this enough. There's like, nowhere else you can get turkey legs that big. And I know it's expensive, but worth it. And then there's also animals, art, photography, and a lot more with the competitions. There's a really big pumpkin right there I've seen pictures of, thought that was super interesting and cool. Tickets can be purchased on their website or at the gates, and on Thursday the 20th, you can get in for free if you bring six cans of food for their food drive. And while six cans may seem like a lot, it is a lot cheaper than their original fee of $13. Because you can just go to the dollar store and spend $6 on six cans.

Abigail Ali 19:22

Heidi Reid 19:23
And it's for a good cause too. So, definitely take advantage of that. And I've never been to the State Fair before. I've seen lots of pictures, looks like a blast, but definitely planning on going because, I mean it's right there. It's right down the street for NC State students, and even for Duke and Chapel Hill students, it's close as well. So definitely check it out.

Emily Vespa 19:42
Yeah, I think it's really nice. Like, I was thinking that because I went this weekend, and I was like, so grateful that we live in Raleigh where like it's so close, because I got to take the Wolfline there and I didn't have to worry about parking or anything, but like, I saw a lot of Chapel Hill and Duke students there who drove like 30 minutes, and I was like, Wow like, it's so nice that I can just take the Wolfline back. So definitely check it out, especially if you're at NC State, but I think it's still a reasonable drive for anyone.

Abigail Ali 20:06
Yeah. And last year, I did the cans thing and it was like, I don't know, it's so easy. Like, I mean, the tickets are aren't that expensive. But for students, it's just like, you don't want to pay more than you have to.

Heidi Reid 20:17

Abigail Ali 20:18
So yeah, last year, me and my friends just like, hit up Food Lion really fast and bought a few cans. And yeah, it was really, really easy.

Heidi Reid 20:26
Yeah. And that way you're feeding people, instead of just paying the fare. I don't know where the money goes, actually, but it's still better. Yeah.

Emily Vespa 20:34
Yeah, I definitely really loved the food. So check all the food out. It was crazy seeing all the stuff they had, like it was so funny.

Abigail Ali 20:42
What are your favorites?

Emily Vespa 20:44
Oh, my favorites? I was pretty tame. I feel like there's just some like, crazy like, rattlesnake corndog stuff.

Heidi Reid 20:49
Yeah. I wanted to try that. That sounded interesting.

Emily Vespa 20:52
I wanted to, but at the same time, I was like, I don't know. Like, it's kind of expensive. But um, I did try the fried pickles, which are like, I love fried pickles. Really good, and the ranch was good with it, too. And then I got a frozen banana covered in chocolate and sprinkles. And those are my favorite, and I loved it. So yeah, my friends got Korean corndogs, they have those this year, they were $15 but apparently they were really worth it. So good to know.

Heidi Reid 21:19
Frozen bananas are to die for. You know the ones from Trader Joe's, the gone bananas one or like little banana slices in chocolate. Or like, I bet it's like that. But like, better.

Emily Vespa 21:27
It's amazing. Yeah, it's amazing, really good. Highly recommend.

Abigail Ali 21:31
I got like a giant donut. And it was like, just huge, and I had to share with my family but like, it had banana pudding inside of it. And I was like, This is all I need in my life.

Emily Vespa 21:40
I think I saw that stand and I wanted to go, but I didn't like have time with all the other stuff we were circulating.

Heidi Reid 21:45
Wait, that's so smart. I never even thought about that. Cuz like, jelly filled doughnuts are mid at best. But banana pudding filled?

Abigail Ali 21:51

Heidi Reid 21:52
Oh my gosh, that's so good.

Emily Vespa 21:53
I really want to try the, they also have like the, you can get like a bucket of chocolate chip cookies. And I really wanted to like, get that with my friends. I feel like that'd be fun. So try getting a bucket of cookies. You can do that at the fair.

Heidi Reid 22:07

Abigail Ali 22:10
Okay, guys, that is all we have for you this week. Thanks for joining us again and we'll see you next time. Bye.

Brian Jurado 22:22
Up next is Eye on the Triangle's interview with the Redbud Writing Project.

Brian Jurado 22:29
Hello, everyone. This is Brian Jurado, the Public Affairs Director here at WKNC and host of Eye on the Triangle. And today I'm joined with Arshia and Emily from the Redbud Writing Project here in Raleigh. If y'all just want to introduce yourselves.

Arshia Simkin 22:43
Hi, my name is Arshia Simkin, and I'm one of the cofounders of the Redbud Writing Project.

Emily Cataneo 22:49
Hi, my name is Emily Cataneo. And I am the other cofounder of the Redbud Writing Project.

Brian Jurado 22:54
Great, and both Arshia and Emily are graduates of the MFA program here at NC State. If y'all just maybe want to give a little bit of a background on like, what led you there?

Arshia Simkin 23:03
Yeah, so for me, it was a long and winding path. So before I joined the MFA program, I used to be a lawyer. And I was representing survivors of domestic violence in upstate New York. And it was really wonderful, fulfilling work. But I also was very traumatized by it. And didn't really love being a lawyer, actually. And so, when my husband got a job at Elon University in North Carolina, I was really happy because I was not admitted to the bar in North Carolina. So, I saw it as a chance to sort of start fresh and pursue my passion for creative writing, which I had always had, but not, you know, thought it was a possibility to pursue for a lot of reasons. But um, so yeah, that's, that's sort of how I got there. And, you know, I'd always loved reading and writing but thought I should do something practical, until I couldn't do it anymore.

Emily Cataneo 24:16
It's funny how many former lawyers, or recovering lawyers, or current lawyers who hate the law, we see coming through Redbud. It seems, it seems like a common type, the lawyer-to-writer pipeline. For me, though, I have never been a lawyer. I went to journalism school for undergrad and worked as a journalist for several years before pivoting towards fiction writing. And I still really love nonfiction and journalism as well, but I decided to pursue my MFA because I wanted to expand my writerly abilities and have the chance to really develop my fiction writing skills. And for me, I actually ended up in North Carolina because of the MFA program. I moved down here with my husband five years ago to attend that program.

Brian Jurado 24:59
And just overall, what was your experience at the NC, at NC State's MFA program?

Arshia Simkin 25:05
Yeah, I thought it was really wonderful. I was so happy to be doing something creative and to finally meet a group of people who were into the same things that I was, like, we could discuss books and writing. And that was all very new and exciting. And the professors were really supportive. And, yeah, it was just a really wonderful opportunity to dedicate time to my writing and kind of build up the skills very quickly. So yeah, really great.

Emily Cataneo 25:39
Yeah, I think one of the best things was all the book recommendations, I left the program with a reading list about 10 pages long. But I also wanted to say that another great thing about the NC State MFA program specifically, is that I think it's very community focused and a little bit more practicality focused than some MFA programs. I was admitted to another MFA program. And I was deciding between that one and NC State, and the other program seemed very ivory tower, in the sense that students were not really encouraged to think about what was going on in the community, or what kind of jobs they might have after they graduated, or what it actually looks like to be a working writer. Um, and for me, I am perhaps sometimes too goal-oriented. And that didn't really seem right to me. So something that I really appreciated about the program is that, you know, they do readings here at So and So books, they give students a chance to showcase their work to the community. We had some, you know, one-off talks about how to find journals to submit to, and what all that looks like. So I really appreciated that the program was a little bit more holistic in terms of training students and didn't just teach us about how to write well, but also about some of the other aspects of building a writerly life.

Brian Jurado 26:47
Well, I was able to discover the Redbud Writing Project through like, coming to So and So books, and then I kind of like, ventured off into the downstairs area. And that's how I kind of came into the space and learned a lot more. And then from there, I basically just did my own due diligence of researching y'all on both your website and through social media. And it was just an incredible like, page, I learned a lot more about both of y'all and the rest of your instructors, and just the programs that you've had in the past, but kind of, what brought Redbud to fruition, like what caused y'all to bring it?

Arshia Simkin 27:19
Yeah. So our origin story dates back to NC State's MFA program, actually, that's where Emily and I met. And we were coming close to graduating and we both really love teaching. As part of our duties as MFA students, you have to teach undergrads. And we really found that to be really fulfilling. And so Emily came up with this idea of, What if we continue to teach after we graduate? And asked if I wanted to do that with her. And I was like, Yes, that sounds wonderful. Yeah, I'll let you talk about maybe how you were inspired.

Emily Cataneo 28:03
Sure. So, it's really interesting. A lot of cities in the country have schools like Redbud, but the Triangle didn't at the time. And I just happened to be reading a Lithub article one day in March 2019, about the founders of GrubStreet, which is Boston's venerated Redbud-esque school. And the article mentioned that the two women who founded that school were in their late 20s. And were just graduating from an MFA program, and just started it by putting up a flyer on a telephone pole in Boston advertising writing classes, because of course, it was the 90s. And that was the way to communicate information at that time. And I started thinking, Well, if that's how GrubStreet, which is this quite venerated literary institution now, if that's how GrubStreet started, then why couldn't I start something like that here in the Triangle? And I talked to a few different people, like the director of our MFA program, and some of our professors, and the guys who run So and So books to sort of try to get a sense of whether there's an appetite for something like that in this area. And the answer seemed to be a resounding yes. It really seemed like there was a dearth of creative writing opportunities for people who weren't affiliated with one of the universities here. And so Arshia and I sat down and we said, You know what, let's give this a try. We had our first business meeting at the sushi place Oishi on Hillsborough Street, which sadly, no longer exists. And we just started offering classes, and we were really pleased to see it take off even, I would say, faster and bigger than we expected.

Brian Jurado 29:30
And how long has Redbud been in the area?

Emily Cataneo 29:33
We founded in May 2019.

Brian Jurado 29:36
Very cool. And just kind of like, what brings, how do you inspire the creativity within your like, curriculums, and how do you like, maybe go about creating new curriculums, as I've seen that you guys market, new ones almost every like, season, like you guys offer a new set of like, curriculums and classes. How do you go about creating those?

Arshia Simkin 29:54
Yeah, well, to answer your first question about inspiring creativity, I think that is a continual job that we have, because students often come to us feeling really creatively depleted, or just, you know, out of touch with their creativity, because they have day jobs and families and responsibilities. So we try really hard to sort of emphasize how accessible writing can be, and be really encouraging. And also, you know, tell them, Don't worry, we're here to give you deadlines. So, a lot of different tools, but it's just a really positive atmosphere where even beginning students or people who have not written in a long time can get inspired. And then in terms of new classes, that's also really a fun thing, because we ourselves love to dive into new subjects. So often, it's motivated by our interests, you know, like we offer a writing feminist works class, co-taught. And we offered it because we love feminist writing. And we were like, surely other people will, too. So that's, you know, that's kind of how we come up with the classes. And Emily, if you wanted to talk about how our teachers do it.

Emily Cataneo 31:13
Yeah, well, first of all, just to bounce off your first question, I think that in some ways, engendering creativity in our students can almost become the easiest part of the job, because we, we often find that students come in on the first day, and they're feeling a little bit uncertain. They're wondering whether they do have that creative spark, they're wondering whether they have it in them to be creative writers, but the classes often end up being so supportive, and people get so excited about the readings, and about the actionable craft steps that we give them, and about the opportunity to get feedback on their work and have people take a short story or a memoir of theirs seriously, and give them supportive comments and feedback and actionable steps they can take to make it better. I find that all of that really gets people quite excited about creating, which is always so wonderful to see, especially if it's somebody who hasn't had the opportunity to access that side of themselves in a really long time. And then when it comes to the classes that we offer, we, in addition to developing our own curricula, also often get wonderful pitches from teachers. We have a stable of about 10 teachers who teach for us semi-regularly or regularly. And it's wonderful to see the new ideas that pop into their brains. We have one instructor, Isabel Walsh, who teaches a class for us called writing the eerie and the uncanny. And I believe she originally came up with the idea around Halloween, and she has continued to teach it on, I think, you know, twice a yearly basis. And it just came from her own interests. She really likes weird and uncanny fiction. And so you know, whenever a new instructor comes to us, we consider whether they might be a fit for teaching one of our core classes, which would be fiction 1, intro to memoir, writing the novel, or we see if they might have a pitch for a brand new idea that hasn't been done before. Like, for example, we have a teacher, Joelle Moffat, who instructs a lot of our classes on the western side of the Triangle. And she recently pitched a class on writing prose poetry, which we had not had before. And it ended up being really popular because there was, it turns out, quite an appetite for prose poetry.

Brian Jurado 33:14
Like you guys said, when, when it comes to writing, there's a lot of boundaries, and it can sometimes feel very inaccessible. Especially given like, a lot of curriculums that you learn maybe in college, who have like, more journalistic writing, there's a lot of rules, which can be a little daunting, especially once you like, maybe you've been trained to write in a certain way. Is there like, any way that you guys maybe push past these boundaries and maybe create more of like, a creative and fun experience for your students?

Arshia Simkin 33:40
Yeah, well, one of the first things we teach is that, for every so-called rule that we're going to teach you, you can probably find an exception. So we kind of like to break down this notion that there is a certain way of doing things. So, I think that's one thing. The other is, I think it's really empowering for students to learn the building blocks. So we, you know, teach them about like, Okay, this is dialogue, this is how you build a scene, this is plot structure. But once they have those tools, you know, we really encourage them to manipulate them and change them to what is going to work for their story. So I think there's a lot of freedom and fun, hopefully, that we infuse in, in the classes.

Emily Cataneo 34:28
Yeah, I think for me, actually, one of the most stressful things about my own first forays into creative writing was a sense that there weren't any rules, because I love rules and structure. So I think, you know, for me as a teacher anyway, and I think some of my students feel this way too, it can actually be comforting to learn that there are some elements of fiction that they can learn and study and get better at, and then within that they can exercise their own creativity. So I would say that our classes are sort of a mix of giving people the quote-unquote rules and I say quote-unquote, because as Arshia mentioned, rules are made to be broken, right? It's not like writing a legal brief where you have to follow the rules to the letter of the law. But I think it's empowering for students to learn that, again, there are actionable steps that they can take to get better at fiction, and sort of give them a framework to think about how they might craft their stories in conversation with all the other stories that have existed up until now. But also, I would say that something that can be very freeing for them can be teaching them that they can write in their own voice. I think especially students who come from a technical writing background, or perhaps do PR, or do communication in some way through their job. Or perhaps the, the place where they have written the most has been in the academy, they're used to writing in a very dry and formal voice. And I think they find it very empowering to learn that they don't have to write in that voice anymore, and that they can write in a voice that feels true to them and authentic to themselves. So I think that's a really wonderful thing to see people blossoming into. And I'll just say one last thing, and then I'll shut up. And we'll go to the next question. You know, in thinking about the difference between learning writing in the academy and learning writing out here in the wild world, I think for me, one of the more impressive things about learning creative writing in high school in college was the sense that there was a certain type of story that should be told, or a certain type of story that would be venerated by the power structure. And we work really hard to find stories about women, people of color, the body, all the elements of, that may not be as explored in the traditional canon. I hope that's changing for people who are in high school and college now, but I remember feeling like I wasn't really reflected in the stories that I was taught to venerate in high school and college, and at Redbud we really work to push against that and make sure that everybody sees that their story can matter.

Brian Jurado 36:51
I agree. Yeah, I mean, that's been my personal experience, as y'all both said with like communication schools, and especially PR schools, which is what I've been studying at NC State for the past four years, a lot of what I've learned is that very formal tone, and then quarantine happened, and I got really into creative writing. And it was very just, daunting, in terms of how to start, and I just like, it was very uninspiring. Like you feel inspired, but it's also, you get the paper and the pen out or like a laptop out, and you just like, don't know where to start. What would be your tips for both like an amateur hobby writer that wants to start and maybe like, wants to express their creative side? And also, what's your tips for like, someone that does want to do it a lot more professionally, and maybe wants to pursue that MFA at one point?

Arshia Simkin 37:33
Yeah, I think that's a great question. And I think, a sort of question that always comes up of like, I'm feeling motivated, but then I sit at the page, and I don't know what to do next. So I think, very basic advice, though, I think, very true, is just to try. And you can, you know, do things like setting a timer for 10 minutes and seeing what comes out or, you know, trying every day for, you know, 500 words, or whatever the small but achievable goal that you set for yourself, I think is one thing. And another is just keeping in mind that what you write initially doesn't have to be perfect. And in fact, it's not going to be perfect unless you are like, one of the rare geniuses out there. So that like, that draft is giving you something to work with. So feeling excited about that, I think, is, is one thing, I'd say.

Emily Cataneo 38:36
And I think for writers who are maybe a little bit further along in their journey and are thinking about pursuing this craft more professionally, I would give two pieces of advice. One would be to find a community that feels supportive to you. It's really hard to write in isolation, despite what the myth of the tortured man in the garret in Paris might, might have us believe, and finding people who you trust, whether you're sharing your work with them, or whether they're just writerly friends who you can, you know, have a beer with and complain. I mean, that's really valuable, too. And the other thing I would say is to read a lot, read, read, read, read critically, learn to, learn from every book that you read. Even if you hate it, think about why you hate it. And it's also important to see what's being published these days, trying to think about where your work might fit into the conversation can be really important too. And of course, reading is fun. So that's a positive.

Arshia Simkin 39:29
I will just add, I endorse this message to read. Yes, we always tell our students one of the best ways to improve your writing is to read widely.

Brian Jurado 39:39
Just in general with like, all this fall weather, a lot of like, cozying up, reading a book, maybe a cup of tea or a cup of coffee, whatever you prefer, what is y'all's like, fall book recommendations?

Emily Cataneo 39:50
So book recommendations. One book that Arshia and I both read this year and both really loved was the Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen, which is one of these interesting books that was written decades ago, but was sort of found and venerated by the literary powers that be, last year. And I am pleased to report that it definitely lives up to the hype. It is about, sort of a bildungsroman of a woman growing up poor in Copenhagen, in the middle of the 20th century, and her journey towards becoming an artist, and also her struggles with addiction and misogyny and bad men and all that bad stuff. Um, and it's just this sort of very interior and specific portrait of a female character that I personally, as a reader, really love. And it takes place in Scandinavia, so it's good to read on a colder day, and when you want to be cozy. Um, so another one that I would recommend is Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, which is another wintery book about a troubled European woman. This one's fiction, though, whereas the Copenhagen trilogy is a memoir. And it's about sort of an ornery old woman who is caught up in murder mystery in her small town on the border of Poland in the Czech Republic. And I really think the character development and the prose are quite intriguing. So if you're interested in learning more about either of those, then I would definitely recommend that one.

Arshia Simkin 41:14
So book recommendations from me. I am currently, or I just finished The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. I think that it takes place in rural Ireland, which also feels like a very cozy feeling book, although the book itself is quite depressing as many of the books that Emily and I read. But, it's a really intriguing premise that this nurse is called to monitor this child who ostensibly hasn't been eating for the past four months, and to figure out whether it's a hoax or whether she's like, some sort of new Catholic saint. So really fascinating. This nurse's moral quandary as she dives into this. And then a book that Emily and I have been recommending for a long time now it feels, is Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. It's a novella. It's like, a beautiful cover. It's like, oddly shaped and sized. So that alone is intriguing. But it is about a young girl who's about like, 17 or 18. And her very strict and problematic father who loves to recreate, like the stone ages, and drag his family along on these recreations. And it's also quite dark, but the language is so beautiful, and the attention to nature and setting is really, like, awe inspiring, and makes me want to be able to do that. And that's somebody, and this is coming from somebody who like, doesn't focus on setting as much as I should, so. A great one, if you want to explore the natural world.

Emily Cataneo 43:06
I have a quick, to say, which is people sometimes come into So and So, because we work here on Wednesdays to help Chris and Charles, the owners, out, and they'll say, I want a happy book. And I say, I'm sorry, I don't read happy books. I can't help you with that.

Brian Jurado 43:20
And is there any authors that maybe you all would recommend, in terms of just wanting to maybe learn more about their craft or learn more about the craft and writing?

Arshia Simkin 43:28
Well, yeah, there are certain craft focus authors, that we can definitely name some of those. There's also just certain authors that we kind of like, view as like, the patron saints of Redbud. So like, we're both obsessed with Elena Ferrante and Ottessa Moshfegh, you know, frequently invoking them as we write. But then in terms of craft, I really enjoyed a book that I came across in, when teaching undergrads at NC State, which is Alice LaPlante's The Making of a Story, that's very craft focused, and it will break down like each of the components, you know, like dialogue and plot and structure and so forth. And then recently, George Saunders came out with his book where he takes Russian stories, old Russian stories, and then analyzes them and it is just brilliant and so inspiring. It's called something weird, like A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. It's a title, I think it's like from one of the Russian stories, but the analysis is just amazing and seeing his mind at work as he picks apart the stories and deconstructs them for you makes you feel like oh, I could do this too. So those are two for me.

Emily Cataneo 44:48
Yeah, I definitely agree with Arshia's endorsement of both of those books. Two more that I really enjoyed this year were Refused to be Done, which is a book about how to write and revise a novel that has a lot of really wonderful actionable tips. I think one of them is to retype the entire work, which is quite a daunting task, but one that I think is really useful if you're looking to change some elements, and don't want to feel like you're completely beholden to the first draft. Another book that I recommend that Arshia and I actually taught part of in a class last night is Body Work by Melissa Febos, which is a little bit less craft-focused, but it's more focused on the idea of claiming your story, even if you're not from the dominant power structure that has had their stories venerated for centuries, if not millennia. And I really recommend that book to anybody who's questioning whether their story is worth telling, because Melissa Febos, gives a stirring argument for why it probably is worth telling.

Brian Jurado 45:45
Well, thank you so much for both of y'all's recommendations, both on fall books and authors. I've been in heavy need of some new reads, so I'll definitely check out some of those. Just talking a little bit more about Redbud, in terms of just calculating somebody's personal growth, how do you go about doing that within writing?

Arshia Simkin 46:03
Yeah, that's a great question. I think because, you know, we don't give out grades, for example, at Redbud. So you don't get that, you know, gold star A plus. But I think there's, you know, a lot of intangible things that we can observe students who suddenly start, like, when they're able to sort of figure out problematic element in a story before we even have to tell them. We often see that with like, students who take multiple classes with us, where they're like, coming in, they're like, I was struggling with this part, I have ideas. And it's just really exciting to see them sort of be able to recognize parts that need hope, ways to come up with solutions. Yeah.

Emily Cataneo 46:47
I think it really depends for every student. You know, for some students, some students come in thinking that there's no way that they could write a page, and then they end up writing 20 pages. And that's a huge, huge success when it comes to somebody's personal growth. And then other students have come in with no ideas what to write about. And we've seen them write an entire novel drafts over the course of many classes when we've worked with them. So yeah, I mean, I suppose that beyond that, measuring personal growth can be a little bit nebulous in an environment like this. But I'd like to think that in every class period, we see our students grow a little bit. Whether it's them observing something about a piece of published writing that they might not have been able to observe when they first came into our classroom, or whether it's them having the courage to reach out to somebody else in the class and ask to form a writing group. Or, again, whether it's them writing a 20 page, complete story when they thought that they would never be able to do that. So I think for our students, and I think this really goes for anybody, it's focusing on the little things. If you just say, well, here I am, and I won't have grown until I have my story reviewed in the New Yorker or published in the New Yorker, then that's just not a good way to view growth. So it's about looking at, I think, those small victories and those small steps forward.

Brian Jurado 48:02
And just talking about the growth of Redbud, where do you guys want this project to go? Or what is your future goals for it?

Arshia Simkin 48:09
Yeah. So we are really committed to making sure that creative writing is accessible to all of those who want to join in. And so one big goal that we have is to expand our offerings and our free offerings. Because we do offer scholarships every round to students, both sponsored by us and through donations that we get. So we're always looking to expand the amount of scholarships and the number of scholarships that we can offer. And we're also sort of trying to think about more community-based offerings that we can give. So two examples, this time around, we're teaching a class in partnership with Planned Parenthood, that will sort of hopefully, destigmatize issues related with reproductive justice. And we're also offering a free fiction 1 class to survivors of domestic violence, in partnership with Interact, which is a local organization that supports survivors. So, to sum all of that up, I guess, we're always looking to make creative writing more accessible is one goal. Yeah, want to share some others?

Emily Cataneo 49:24
I think that's the major one going into 2023. We really are hoping to expand those offerings to people who have had experiences that have typically not been represented in the publishing world, or expand our offerings to people who have traditionally not had access to creative writing instruction, or maybe have just grown up in an environment and come of age in an environment where they feel like creative writing is not for them, because they're not a fancy person or what have you. So that's super important to us, and, you know, we'll continue to expand our six week paid offerings that we've been doing since 2019 as we move into the new year, and we'll also continue to expand these community based classes that Arshia and I both talked about.

Arshia Simkin 50:07
And I had one more thought, which is that we, you know, we started in 2019. And we're so excited to sort of engage with the community of writers here in the Triangle, because there is a really robust community, but not necessarily like a central gathering point. And so, we got to do some of that with things like free literary trivia nights, and then COVID happened and everything shut down. And so for a long time, we weren't able to gather in person. And so one other thing that we're looking forward to is doing more sort of, you know, social events where people can come together and meet other fellow writers and, you know, discuss literature and have laughs. So hopefully more things like trivia nights, or like a literary movie night, or perhaps even speed dating for people who love literature. So, you know, we are always open to ideas and looking for ways to like, foster those social connections, and, or one-off events, you know, we've done something called, for example, like Prose and Pale Ales, where we partner with a local business. And, you know, they provide drinks, and we provide like, a little bit of instruction on a writing topic. And then people write, and like, share with one another. So, really fun literary-based event.

Emily Cataneo 51:24
Yeah. And also, I think it's really important to encourage writers who come here to study to stay here. You know, the more people who come to the MFA program at NC State and actually decide to remain in the area, the better for the literary community. So the bigger we can grow, the more that we can offer part-time jobs to working writers as, as our teachers, or the more excitement we can create around the literary community in general that will make people feel and see that Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill are robust literary places where writers can stay and learn, and they don't have to run off to Brooklyn immediately, or what have you, the better. So we really hope to continue to grow and encourage more people to stay in the area, or even move to the area. I mean, there are a lot of people moving to the area. And we think many of them are writers, so the more that that can happen, the better.

Brian Jurado 52:11
What is the best way to like, kind of learn more about Redbud in terms of just like a website, or maybe coming in person?

Arshia Simkin 52:17
Yeah, so our website is a great place to start, redbudwriting.org. And then we have the three main social medias for people our age. So we have Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, @redbudwriting. So you can definitely follow us there. And, you know, we do all sorts of hijinks, like offer book recommendations, and post pictures of plants, and Emily's dogs. So, that's a great one. And as Emily mentioned, we are here on Wednesdays at So and So books. So, if people just want to drop by and say hi or talk books. We love, love to do that.

Brian Jurado 53:05
Well, that is all for today's episode of Eye on the Triangle. I want to thank Technician news editors, Abigail, Emily and Heidi for their weekly news tidbits and recommendations. Also want to thank Arshia Simkin and Emily Cataneo for taking the time to sit and interview with us and teaching us all more about the Redbud Writing Project. I hope everyone has a lovely rest of their week. Thank you for listening. Music for today's episode has been The Blackest Crow by Track Tribe, licensed under the YouTube Audio Library. You can listen to more episodes of Eye on the Triangle through wknc.org/podcast.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

EOT 367- Redbud Writing Project
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