Classy Talk with Anca Szilagyi

Posted Sun, 1/05/2014 - 12:32am by  |  Category:

What is the title of your class?
Visual Inspiration: Hugo at the Henry

People should take this class if…
they would like to give their creative process a healthy shake, like a guided handstand in yoga or a dash of cayenne in a mocha latte. We will use a diverse range of visual art as writing prompts, generate a slew of new work, and even workshop a bit too.

Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how? Sure!
My Twitter handle is @ancawrites.

Are any of your works online and available to the public?
Two recent stories are here and here. More of my writing and links to my writing elsewhere are on my website,

What’s your teaching philosophy?
Variety is the spice of life. I bring a variety of materials (stories, essays, prose poems; figurative and abstract art; etc.) to my class and stay flexible in terms of students’ needs and learning styles. My approach to workshop in this generative setting is to help students form open-ended questions that make the writer feel expanded with possibility.

If you could only bring one novel, story, or poem to a deserted island, which would you bring and why?
Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, a novel-in-verse, reimagines an ancient Greek myth, tells a contemporary coming-of-age story, and offers the lonely lots to gnaw on. It’s also funny: “I am a philosopher of the sandwich, he decided. Things good on the inside.”

What are you currently working on?
My second novel is about a struggling 25-year-old visual artist, Binnie Greenson, who takes a job as a paralegal just before the economic crisis of 2008, gets swept up in the drama of a trial between a bank and an insurance company, and finds herself rooting for a glorified loan shark, all set against the backdrop of the Bernie Madoff scandal. It’s a romance.

If there was one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be?
I like the way this police detective puts it in The Map and the Territory, by Michel Houellebecq: “You should never let a day of an investigation pass by without taking at least one note, he insisted, even if the fact noted seemed to be totally lacking in importance. The rest of the investigation would almost always confirm this lack of importance, but this wasn’t the essential point: the essential point was to remain active, to maintain a minimum intellectual activity, for a completely inactive policeman becomes discouraged, and therefore becomes incapable of reaction when important facts do start to manifest themselves.”

What do you like best about Hugo House?
The variety of classes offered boggles my mind. If I took all the classes I wanted to take, I’d have a second MFA.

What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?
I’m reading The Map and the Territory, which is a dark, funny book about art, death, and money, and is best paired with either an entire crate of Veuve Clicquot or a single packet of Swiss Miss with Marshmallows circa 2009.