Who is Stephanie Lenox?

At the Summer High School Arts Camp in June, Stephanie Lenox will teach “Wordplay”, one seriously fun week in which you will trace the use of humor, both funny strange and funny ha-ha, in writing classic and contemporary.

Lenox-bunyan_photo Investigate how literary oddballs tinker with tradition and technology to create hilarious and thought-provoking work, and then give it a whirl. There’s no need to be a stand-up comedian for this workshop, just a writer ready to stand up and try something new.

Lenox adds the following:

About my teaching style:

As the promotions director for a children’s museum, I’m surrounded by kids prodding, poking, and investigating new ideas. Positioned between two interactive stations on magnetism, my office doorknob receives regular jiggling as the kids move from one station to the next. On the days I forget to set my lock, I’m one more discovery, a startled thirty-something woman looking up from her computer screen. Working in that kind of environment reminds me of the importance of experimentation, testing the door to see if it opens, rattling whoever sits too comfortably inside.

For me, writing requires playfulness, an attitude I embrace in the classroom as well. As a genius of doubt, I’ve had to come up with clever ways to sneak behind the back of my internal critic and get the work on the page. I believe that doubt can be an extremely useful tool in writing, and I use it to push me beyond what I know into strange and unexplored territory. Using prompts, experiments, collaborations and exercises that take me out of my routine, I find ways to escape the same-old, same-old that stifles original expression. My ideal writing classroom is one that allows time for purposeful play, reflection, and partnership with fellow creatives.

About my work:

People always say write about what you know. Phooey. I write about what I want to know. I want to know what it’s like after having the world’s largest tumor removed from my body or to walk around with the world’s largest feet or to be able to lift the heaviest weight with just my ear (136 lbs!). For me, writing is about connection, an attempt to find the familiar within the strange or the strange within the familiar.

Sample poems by Stephanie Lenox:

The Heart That Lies Outside the Body

Christopher Wall (USA) born on Aug. 19, 1975, is the longest known survivor of the condition known as ectopia cordis.… The mortality rate is high, with most patients not living beyond 48 hours.
— Guinness World Records

I know people want to touch it,
like I’m some pregnant woman
or one of those cut-open cows
with a porthole in its side.

As soon as I could talk, I said
aorta, pulmonary artery, vena cava.
These words hold my life in place.

I learned how to have fun with it,
dress it up like a ventriloquist’s dummy,
throw my voice into the fleshy lump.
I memorized “The Tell-Tale Heart”

and chased my cousins around the yard
shouting, “It grew quicker and quicker
and louder and louder every instant!”

I’ve had to explain myself so often,
ectopia cordis, ectopia cordis,
ectopia cordis, ectopia cordis,
that once I totally lost it and hit a man

for asking. And, of course, considering
my condition, he forgave me.

Now people don’t bother to ask,
or if they do, I say it feels
just fine. In fact, I’ve lived
so long the doctors say I’ll die

like everyone else. I have dreams
that it fills with air, floats away.
I don’t know what that means.


Longest Sneezing Fit, Day 977

Donna Griffiths (UK) started sneezing on Jan. 13, 1981 at the age of 12. … She achieved her first sneeze-free day on Sept. 16, 1983 —  the 978th day.
— Guinness World Records

It’s not
that I don’t want
to stop
the raucous riot
in my lungs,
but what would life be
if not
this exclamation

My body wants to be
beside itself,
into a world of
innumerable deeds.

Something escapes me
every time
I sneeze.
So this just goes to show
how much a body can break
in two,
in two,
until …

It’s not my choice
to live this way, each
moment raw
to the prodigious
need to announce itself.
I can tell you that it hurts
to keep going,
that nothing matters
more than a quiet,
average life.

But if I did stop,
who would count
each ordinary breath?
Who would bless me?

Tags: No tags

Comments are closed.