Events
  • Otis College alumni in the New York/Tri-State area are invited to a reception welcoming visiting Otis College fashion students at Global Brands Group headquarters in the Empire State Building. Join fellow alumni to celebrate the culmination of the Fashion Design Department's annual trip to Manhattan. This special event - open to all alumni from both undergraduate and graduate departments - is a great chance to reconnect with friends, welcome new Fashion Design alumni from the Class of 2017, and meet Otis College leaders including Fashion Design Interim Chair Jill Higashi-Zeleznik.

  • In conjunction with the current exhibition Patterns Bigger Than Any of Us: Jesse Fleming / Pat O'Neill in Ben Maltz Gallery, May 7 - August 12, 2017.

    In Conversation: Jesse Fleming and Pat O'Neill, moderated by LA-based idependent curator and historian Ciara Moloney

     

    Jesse Fleming (b. 1977) is part of an emerging group of artists and technologists that examine the convergence of media art and mindfulness. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Five Car Garage; 356 Mission; and Night Gallery, all in Los Angeles, CA; and the University of Texas in Austin, TX.

    Pat O’Neill’s (b. 1939) artistic and filmmaking career spans over 50 years, and he is highly-regarded for his experiments with film and optical printing. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA; Monitor in Rome, Italy; VeneKlasen/Werner in Berlin, Germany; Quinta do Quetzal in Vidigueira, Portugal; Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, NY; and Cherry and Martin in Los Angeles, CA.

    Ciara Moloney is an independent curator, editor, and writer based in Los Angeles. She was formerly Curator of Exhibitions and Projects at Modern Art Oxford where she curated exhibitions by Barbara Kruger, Josh Kline, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Christian Boltanski and Kiki Kogelnik.

  • Amelia Gray is the author of the short story collections AM/PM, Museum of the Weird, and Gutshot, as well as the novels Threats and, most recently, Isadora, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Tin House, and VICE. She is winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, of FC2's Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. 

  • Luis J. Rodriguez was Los Angeles Poet Laureate from 2014-2016. The twenty-fifth edition of his first book, Poems Across the Pavement, won a 2015 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement. He has written fourteen other books of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and nonfiction, including the best-selling memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. Rodriguez is also founding editor of Tia Chucha Press and co-founder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in the San Fernando Valley. In 2016 Tia Chucha Press produced the largest anthology of L.A.-area poets, Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles. Rodriguez’s last memoir It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award. His latest poetry collection Borrowed Bones appeared in 2016 from Curbstone Books/Northwestern University Press.

  • Raised in Philadelphia, with roots in South Africa and Trinidad, Zinzi Clemmons’ writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Transition, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and support from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction. She is co-founder and former Publisher of Apogee Journal, and a Contributing Editor to LitHub. She teaches literature and creative writing at the Colburn Conservatory and Occidental College. Her debut novel, What We Lose, as well as a second title, are forthcoming from Viking.

  • Louise Sandhaus is a graphic designer and graphic design educator. She was previously Director of the Graphic Design Program at CalArts where she currently is faculty. Her recent book on California graphic design, Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936-1986, co-published by Metropolis Books and Thames & Hudson, has received laudatory reviews from The New York Times, The Guardian, Eye, and Creative Review. The book received the Palm d’Argent for best art book at FILAF (International Festival of Art Books and Films on Art).

  • Photo Credit: Jesse Pniak

     

    F. Douglas Brown received the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize (selected by Tracy K. Smith) for Zero to Three, published by the University of Georgia. He also co-authored the chapbook Begotten with Geffrey Davis as part of Upper Rubber Boot Book's Floodgate Poetry Series. Both a past Cave Canem and Kundiman Fellow, his poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets, The Virginia Quarterly, Bat City Review, The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Southern Humanities Review, The Sugar House Review, Cura Magazine, and Muzzle Magazine. He is co-founder and curator of un::fade::able - The Requiem for Sandra Bland, a quarterly reading series examining restorative justice through poetry as a means to address racism. Brown currently teaches English at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

O-Tube

Alumna Jessica M. Wilson

Dec 1, 2015
Spotlight Category: Alumni

Alumna Jessica M. Wilson (’07 MFA Writing) is a writer, poet, and founder of the Los Angeles Poet Society, an organization that bridges the arts with local communities. Her new book, Serious Longing, is the first English language book of poetry for Swan World, an imprint of Editions du Cygne in Paris, France.

Described by Juan Cardenas as poetry that will “transport you to the core of her emotion,” Jessica’s writing covers a range of emotions, deftly addressing subjects of origin, ancestry, and childhood. We wanted to find out more about Wilson’s love affair with poetry, her experiences in the MFA program at Otis College of Art and Design, and what inspires her work.

***

When did you discover your love of poetry and when did you write your first poem?

In junior high, they had a poetry-in-motion program, and it was really awesome. They introduced us to the Beat poets and we got to read some poetry, we got to write and I was just hooked from then on. I wrote what I consider my first real poem when I was twelve or thirteen – I was in my algebra class, zoning out, and I wrote this piece called 'Dracula: The Fetus, The Birth' ” I just wrote and wrote and when I was done I thought, ‘oh’.  That’s when I discovered I had something I could do – an art form, a gift. And that was it.

Jessica M. Wilson

Jessica M. Wilson 

How would you describe your time at Otis and where in your journey did that fall?

I was very focused and goal-oriented, I knew early on that I wanted to go to college for creative writing, and I knew I wanted my MFA. I did my BA at UC Riverside in creative writing but when it came time for grad school, it was a tough road. I graduated in 2003 and immediately started applying, but it was a flop. For writing programs, there can sometimes be only six to ten spots available, so it is selective. But I kept trying and it paid off. I got into Otis College under Paul Vangelisti, who is amazing. I loved my time at Otis, I felt that I could really be free here. Under the faculty, my voice was nourished, I learned so much more about avant-garde poetry, experimental works and also reconnected with the Beat Poets that originally inspired me. I felt at home. Often you’re told you have to write in a box, but with Paul and the curriculum it wasn’t about a box at all, it was about making art. 

What inspires you, what makes you pick up a pen and say - this should be a poem?

Sometimes an emotional reaction to something that’s going on, like right now, I’m very fired up politically. I feel that as poets, we are the eyes of what is going on in the world, we are the ones documenting it or telling it like it is, and trying to reach the people – we are truth-tellers. I am a part of an organization called 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and it’s essentially a world movement to bring communities together in a stand for social, environmental, and political change. But within my life I am always keeping a poetic eye open, whether it’s an emotion, or the sky, or a breeze.

Being published is a huge goal for many writers. How did it come about, and what was the process like for you?

It has been my dream ever since junior high - I wanted to be a published poet, I wanted to have a book! Having a book, it’s immortality – your words are marked in that stone now and generations long after you will have the opportunity to see it. It’s beautiful how it came together, I connected with a press in Paris named Editions du Cygne through the Los Angeles Poets Society. The editor, Patrice Kanozsai, was interested in the group and we connected through Facebook actually. Part of the Society’s mission is to connect writers with publishers, so I wanted to publicize his press. A little while later he came to Los Angeles and wanted to meet, so I invited him to an open mic. He read there and we exchanged books. That was it. A year went by, and I knew a friend was going to Paris so I connected him with Patrice. We started exchanging messages again and I said that I would love to publish the book in French, and that’s how it all came about. Patrice is incredible to work with, he’s really behind my work, and when I received the package from France with my book in it, it was so amazing.

 

Bookstore in Paris

A bookshop window in Paris that featured Serious Longing.

 

If you could go back in time to your first day at Otis, sitting in your very first class, what advice, or warnings, or words of encouragement would you give yourself?

I would say, “Don’t give up. Ever.” I would probably tell myself to move closer, because when I started going to Otis I still lived in Riverside, was driving to school, and had a full-time job. And I would say to take more of a lead and be out there as a poet and not wait to graduate - that’s so important. When I graduated I started diving into what a poet’s life is like after school - going to open mics, literary meetings, book parties. It’s how you grow, from being exposed to other people’s work, what they are talking about, and what they are writing about. I would tell myself to take charge and be more involved while I was still a student. 

What are you currently reading?

I love to read L.A. writers. One of my favorites is Alexis Rhone Fancher, she is a poet and photographer. She published a book last year called How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen: and other heart stab poems, and it’s just as in your face and edgy as her title. I love what she does and how she tells her tale, everyone can relate to it. I’m also reading Michael Rothenberg, he’s a poet and editor of Big Bridge Press, he’s also one of the founders of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Also on my desk is Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House’s Edgar Allen Poet Journal # 3 – Los Angeles Edition.

For those individuals who have never read a book of poetry in their lives, and are not sure poetry is for them, where would you have them start?

I would ask them if they ever read Dr. Seuss, or Shel Silverstein, because those guys are poets. And if that captures them, then I would say that all they used was word play and many writers do that. Or you could start writing yourself, have you ever thought about that? And that might intrigue them to play around with words. Obviously I love to send people to the Beat Generation, read Allen Ginsberg! Read Howl! Or Edgar Allen Poe – read The Raven! Just open the door and realize that if you enjoyed those, then you DO like poetry.

What is the best way for people to connect with you?

Social media and definitely through the Los Angeles Poet Society, I often handle the website, so if you “contact us” – it will most likely be me. We believe you can make poetry from anything – interpreting a painting, a sculpture, and outfit. So artists, musicians, other organizers, anyone who wants to join us – we welcome you!

Wilson with publisher

Wilson with her publisher, Patrice Kanozsai.

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