Monday, November 22, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Todd Boss, Poetry Visiting Editor
Todd Boss grew up on an 80-acre cattle farm in Wisconsin, which is the setting for his debut poetry collection, Yellowrocket (Norton, 2008). His poems have appeared in Poetry, Best American Poetry, and The New Yorker. His second collection, Overtures of an Overturned Piano, will be published by W. W. Norton in Fall, 2011. He is the co-founder of Motionpoems, a poetry film initiative. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he is the poet laureate of Nina's Cafe.
Rhina Espaillat, Poetry
Rhina P. Espaillat was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, has lived in the United States since 1939, and was educated in the public school system of New York City. She was graduated from Hunter College and did graduate work at Queens College, also a branch of the City University of New York. Espaillat taught high school English in New York City for several years, and writes poetry and prose both in English and in her native Spanish. Her poems, essays, narratives and translations have appeared in numerous magazines, on many websites, and in over fifty anthologies.
Espaillat has published eleven collections of her work: Lapsing to Grace (Bennett & Kitchel, 1992); Where Horizons Go (Truman State University Press, 1998), which won the 1998 T. S. Eliot Prize; Rehearsing Absence (University of Evansville Press, 2001), which won the 2001 Richard Wilbur Award; "Mundo y Palabra/The World and the Word" (Oyster River Press, 2001), a bilingual chapbook that is part of a series titled Walking to Windward: 21 New England Poets; a chapbook in the Pudding House invitational series, titled "Rhina P. Espaillat: Greatest Hits, 1942 - 2001" (Pudding House Press, 2003); The Shadow I Dress In (David Robert Books, 2004), winner of the 2003 Stanzas Prize; a chapbook titled "The Story-teller's Hour" (Scienter Press, 2004); Playing at Stillness (Truman State University Press, 2005); a bilingual collection of poems and essays titled Agua de dos rios, published under the auspieces of the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Culture (Editora Buho, 2006); a bilingual collection of short stories titled El olor de la memoria/The Scent of Memory (CEDIBIL, 2007); and a poetry collection titled Her Place in These Designs (Truman State University Press, 2008).
Deborah Fleming, Poetry Visiting Editor
Thomas French, Creative Nonfiction
Thomas French worked as a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times for 27 years, writing serialized book-length narratives that appeared in the newspaper one chapter at a time. One of his projects, Angels & Demons, was awarded a Pulitzer prize for feature writing. French now teaches at Indiana University and in Goucher College's MFA program for creative nonfiction. He also teaches at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and at writing conferences around the world, from Paris to Singapore to Johannesburg. He is the author of three nonfiction books, including Unanswered Cries, an account of a Florida murder case, and South of Heaven, the story of the secret lives of high school students. His most recent book, Zoo Story, is based on seven years of reporting and research and chronicles life and death inside Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. A New York Times bestseller, Zoo Story was recently featured on The Colbert Report, in People Magazine and on NPR's Talk of the Nation.
Thomas Larson, Creative Nonfiction Visiting Editor
The MFA Program is delighted to welcome back Thomas Larson as a visiting editor in creative nonfiction. Thomas Larson is the author of The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," and The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reading and Writing Personal Narrative (Ohio University Press / Swallow Press) now in its third printing. He teaches, lectures, and holds workshops on memoir writing throughout the United States.
Larson writes personal essays, memoir, feature articles, book reviews, and literary criticism. For the last twelve years, he has been a contributing writer for the weekly San Diego Reader where he specializes in investigative journalism, narrative nonfiction, and profiles.
His writing has appeared in numerous reviews and journals, among them Tampa Review, The Gettysburg Review, Southwest Review, Antioch Review, Fourth Genre, Amazon.com/Shorts, the Anchor Essay Annual: The Best of 1997, Contrary Magazine online where he does quarterly book reviews, and New Letters where his memoir, "Mrs. Wright’s Bookshop," won the journal’s Reader’s Award for the Essay in 2008.
His web site is www.thomaslarson.com.
Joe Mackall, Creative Nonfiction Visiting Editor
Joe Mackall is the author of Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish (Beacon Press) and of the memoir, The Last Street Before Cleveland: An Accidental Pilgrimage. He is the co-founder and -editor of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative and of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize, in partnership with the University of Nebraska Press. His articles have been published in a number of newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post. His essays have appeared in anthologies, literary journals, and on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. He’s the director of undergraduate creative writing at Ashland University. His next book, Amish in Exile, (working title) will be published by Beacon Press in spring 2012.
Kathleen Norris, Creative Nonfiction
Kathleen Norris is the award-winning poet, writer, and author of The New York Times bestsellers The Cloister Walk, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, and The Virgin of Bennington.
Kathleen Norris has published seven books of poetry. Her first book of poems was entitled Falling Off and was the 1971 winner of the Big Table Younger Poets Award. Soon after, she settled down in her grandparents’ home in Lemmon, South Dakota, where she lived with her husband, the poet David Dwyer, for over twenty-five years. The move was the inspiration for the first of her nonfiction books, the award-winning bestseller Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was selected as one of the best books of the year by Library Journal.
Her next book, The Cloister Walk, is structured as a diary of her monastic experience interspersed with meditations on virgin saints, Emily Dickinson, celibacy, loneliness, monogamy, and a hymnist of the early church, Ephrem of Syria. Her book Amazing Grace continues her theme that the spiritual world is rooted in the chaos of daily life. Her book, The Virgin of Bennington, is a continuous narrative in which she shares the period of her life before Dakota. Other books include Journey: New and Selected Poems, and Little Girls in Church.
Kathleen Norris is the recipient of grants from the Bush and Guggenheim Foundations. Her new book, entitled Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life, was published in September 2008. It is a study of acedia, the ancient word for the spiritual side of sloth. She examines the topic in the light of theology, psychology, monastic spirituality, and her own experience. Widowed in 2003, Kathleen Norris now resides in Hawaii, where she volunteers at her local Episcopal Church. She travels to the mainland regularly to speak to students, medical professionals, social workers, and chaplains at colleges and universities, as well as churches and teaching hospitals.
David Wojahn, Poetry
David Wojahn was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1953, and educated at the University of Minnesota and the University of Arizona. His first collection, Icehouse Lights, was chosen by Richard Hugo as a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, and published in 1982. The collection was also the winner of the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Book Award. His second collection, Glassworks, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1987, and was awarded the Society of Midland Authors’ Award for best volume of poetry to be published during that year. Pittsburgh is also the publisher of four of his subsequent books, Mystery Train (1990), Late Empire (1994), The Falling Hour (1997) and Spirit Cabinet (2002). His most recent collection, Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982-2004, was published by Pittsburgh in 2006, and was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the O. B. Hardison Award from the Folger Shakespeare Library.
He is also the author of a collection of essays on contemporary poetry, Strange Good Fortune (University of Arkansas Press, 2001), and editor (with Jack Myers) of A Profile of 20th Century American Poetry (Southern Illinois University Press, 1991), and two posthumous collections of Lynda Hull’s poetry, The Only World (HarperCollins, 1995) and Collected Poems (Graywolf, 2006). He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Illinois and Indiana Councils for the Arts, and in 1987-88 was the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholar. He has taught at a number of institutions, among them Indiana University, the University of Chicago, the University of Houston, the University of Alabama, and the University of New Orleans. He is presently Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, and is also a member of the program faculty of the MFA in Writing Program of Vermont College of the Fine Arts. His newest collection, World Tree, will be published by Pittsburgh in the winter of 2011.
Monday, October 11, 2010
October 21, 2010 @ 7 pm
A Reading from Anthology Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out
(Coffee House Press, 2010)
Haven will read with Larry Smith, Ray McNiece, Maggie Anderson, and Jeanne Bryner
Sponsored by Mac's Backs Books
1820 Coventry Rd
Cleveland Hts, OH
Hudson Valley Writers' Center Poetry Reading
300 Riverside Drive, Sleepy Hollow, NY
Haven will read with Afaa Michael Weaver
October 25, 2010, 1:30-3:30
Binghamton University, State University of New York
4400 Vestal Parkway East
LN 1104 (the Grad Student Lounge at the base of the Library Tower) .
A conversation on publishing, craft, and the writing life with STEPHEN HAVEN editor at ASHLAND POETRY PRESS at Ashland University in Ohio. Haven, author of two collections of poetry, was nominated for the National Book Award for The River Lock: One Boy’s Life along the Mohawk, his memoir about growing up in upstate New York. An informal Q & A event open to all.
Monday, October 4, 2010
“I want to treat this story as a murder mystery of another kind, not as a whodunit but as a sort of ‘detective story’ ... After all, something has drawn you here. You want to know what it is the searchers seek among the ragweed and soybean plants—the tiny body, yes, but something more. Now this book lies open before you, each paragraph a stand of trees, a deep forest of wonder and darkness.” (16)
This is exactly what Bob Cowser delivers to his readers in Green Fields (UNO Press) a deep forest of a story that begins on the day of Cary Ann Medlin’s disappearance. Cowser could have simply given his reader the details of how her body was discovered and the subsequent investigation, arrest and eventual execution of Robert Glen Coe 21 years later. Instead, Cowser has chosen to give us so much more than a one-dimensional retelling of a gruesome murder. And he has chosen to give us these dimensions while standing in the middle of the vast forest of repercussions felt when tragedy unites the unrelated.
What is surprising in this book is that Cowser manages to present this material in such a balanced manner that the reader can dive into the layers and sort out the many lives affected by this “detective story.” We hear all of their voices here: the mother that lost her child and the brother that watched his sister pull away in the car of a stranger. We also hear the outrage and ultimate cry for justice as Cowser relates the far-reaching changes to a quiet community that now had to monitor their children through a blanket of fear and anxiety.
And then there is Coe. Cowser gives so much history on Coe that one has to sympathize beyond the act and see the adult through the abuses of his own childhood. Coe begins to emerge as the face of what poverty and a lack of education, coupled with unchecked addictive behavior and childhood abuse looks like as an adult. I must admit, I felt conflicted by Coe. One hand, I wanted to see justice, on the other hand I felt sympathy for him understanding what he endured as a child at the hand of a vicious abusive father. But, his reputation in the jails and court system seemed to confirm that he was a vulgar, dangerous and out of control man even though the “People who worked to save Coe’s life could not help but think of him as a frightened little boy, prone to petulance and sullenness. Underneath the vulgarity, they said, lay terrific fear.” (129)
In Green Fields, we see the young boy growing up in a safe neighborhood until Cary Ann Medlin’s murder. We see the change and fear that grips his friends and neighbors and begin to understand there are many valid voices and sides that emerge from this one horrendous act.
Scott Russell Sanders said of Green Fields:
“Bob Cowser does not blink, nor does he allow us to blink ... part true crime story, part coming-of-age-memoir, part meditation on the culture of poverty and the ethics of capital punishment, Green Fields is entirely compelling.”
Green Fields is a story to be closely read and fully digested. It carries all the heart of the young boy and the man that looks back into his life in this community devastated by Cary Ann Medlin’s death. Cowser meditates on his childhood and the loss of his friend, but also gives his reader a broader societal look at crime and how it affects not only those directly involved but our society as a whole. This story will grip you with its retelling of Coe’s violence, child abuse and execution. But there is also the voice of the children, the cry of a small community for justice and the voice of others that didn’t see such a black and white set of factors. But mostly you will hear the voice of a man looking back, trying to make sense of it all with Cary Ann’s last words to him still ringing in his ears: “Cary’s still the clearest, most plaintive voice in this old story, the voice of human mercy ... She holds me to account in this world; ‘Hey Bobby Cowser! What are you doing here?’” (178)
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Carmen Giménez Smith is Assistant Professor of creative writing at New Mexico State University, Publisher for Noemi Press and Editor-in-Chief of Puerto Del Sol and the author of Odalisque in Pieces (University of Arizona, 2009). Her work has most recently appeared in Ploughshares, Colorado Review and Jubilat, and forthcoming in A Public Space and Denver Quarterly. A memoir, Bring Down the Little Birds, will be published by University of Arizona Press in 2010. She also co-edited, with Kate Bernheimer, the fairy tale anthology, My Mother She Slew Me, My Father He Ate Me (Penguin 2010). She lives in New Mexico with her husband, Evan Lavender-Smith and their two children.
Leila Philip is the author of A Family Place and The Road Through Miyama, which won the PEN 1990 Martha Albrand Citation for Nonfiction in 1990. She has received awards for her writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is a professor of Creative Writing and Literature at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.
For more information about the MFA Program at Ashland University, visit http://www.ashland.edu/graduate/mfa. Also available today is the most recent newsletter: http://www.ashland.edu/graduate/mfa/faculty-student-news
Monday, August 30, 2010
By: Joan Hanna (MFA student at Ashland)
I thought I knew what to expect from Cover Me, (University of Nebraska Press) by Sonya Huber but I was so wrong. This book is much more than a diatribe about medical coverage in the United States. This is a personal and blatantly honest look through Sonya’s own experiences which she hopes will prompt us to ask the question: "Can I tell my life story through the lens of my healthcare card." Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs weaves throughout this book like a threaded roadmap forcing the reader to realize that attaining even our most basic needs is often in conflict with or defined by our healthcare coverage. Suddenly the message of this book becomes very personal and very clear.
Sonya's book is witty, funny and at times a sad and frustrating view of our lives through that lens of our health and well being with regard to our healthcare coverage. She bears all in this story from childhood headaches to crippling anxiety attacks as a young adult. She goes further, venturing into personal experiences from childhood testing to coping with losing coverage at the time of college graduation. She explores self-medicating colds and urinary tract infections and putting off illnesses until they result in a middle of the night emergency room trip. She then follows the trail of calls to billing offices, tracking down forms and relentless collection agency threats, when she discovers her student plan had no provisions for an "out of network" emergency.
Sonya’s stories become even more poignant when she talks about the fear that overtakes her when she discovers she is pregnant and doesn’t know how she will afford the medical expenses involved. But she takes it even one step further and explores what happens to our self-esteem when we have no other choice but to opt-in to government programs.
"We used the milk coupons gratefully and wished there were coupons for vegetables, rice, or meat. I went to the grocery store in our neighborhood, where the clerks whipped through the WIC transactions without batting an eye ... I want to write that I got over the shame, because my brain disapproves. Do you think I am too good to be poor? The shame turned me inside out and shifted me slightly. Revealing my prejudices like a strobe light catching me in an awkward pose" (144).
Sonya hopes that her readers see "the emotional and personal toll that the 'for profit' healthcare system has on everyone." And there are stories in this book that will strike you on a personal note. I found myself sitting in the dentist chair reliving my own experiences with her as she weighs the decision to pull a tooth for $25 or spend the enormous fees for root canal and crowns. This is more than just personal experience; this is how Americans weigh our own worth when balancing options for our health vs. other basic needs. Do we go to the doctor knowing that along with the office visit fee is the elaborate cost of medication? Sonya explores how we make these decisions, especially, when many times it means there may not be any money left over to pay the rent, electric bill, gas bill or possibly buy food for that week.
"I think the one take-away for me is that I hope readers get a chance to see that their own seemingly small experiences in this battle also matter, that this system has an effect on all of our lives, and that realizing the effects of the system and talking about them can help us change the system and make a new one that works. I spent a lot of my life ashamed for my 'incompetence' in getting healthcare, and I think a lot of people are ashamed for similar reasons, but the solution is to talk about it."
Cover Me makes us all a little more willing to share our stories and give a voice to our frustrations. This book isn’t a radical call for change, it doesn’t offer solutions; rather, it begins a much-needed dialogue. Political party battle lines and what ifs about medical care dissolve into the idea that medical care and our health are very basic needs that every United States citizen should be able to rely on without stress, frustration or embarrassment. This book illustrates, in a way that mere political rhetoric cannot, how the lack of accessible, affordable medical care negatively affects everyone on a personal, emotional and economic scale.
Here is more of the interview with Sonya Huber.
Q. How has this project differed from other projects you have written?
A. With this project, I focus solely on myself rather than on my extended family, and I also use humor to leaven the serious subject.
Q. Do you have any recurring themes in your stories?
A. I think I am always struggling with the issue of the individual's role in society, particularly when the individual has an obligation or an opportunity to resist injustice. I am interested in the influence of ethnicity and specifically in sorting out what it means to be a German and also an American. I wrestle with being a mom, being a teacher, and being a Buddhist in a Christian society.
Q. Do you have any general writing philosophies you would like to share?
A. I love the quote from Carolyn Forche: “If I work only when the spirit moves me, the spirit will ignore me.” I believe in working every day and having a regular schedule so that I can gradual build onto sentences and questions, in the power of gradual accumulation to teach us about ourselves.
Q. Do you have a quote or closing statement that you would like to share?
A. I really like this quote right now from Thomas Merton: “Although I am ruined, I am far better off than I have ever been in my life. My ruin is my fortune.”
Sonya holds a BA in Sociology/Anthropology from Carleton College, and a MA in Public Interest Journalism and MFA in Creative Writing, from Ohio State University.
Among other honors Sonya’s book Opa Nobody was shortlisted for William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (Summer 2010). She also received the Dorothy Golden Award for Excellence in Teaching with $1000 stipend from Department of Writing & Linguistics, Georgia Southern University (Fall 2009). She was the Iowa Review Creative Nonfiction Contest Finalist (Spring 2008) and the Press 53 Open Award Creative Nonfiction Contest Finalist (Spring 2008).
You can find other information on Sonya Huber, as well as an updated publications list at her website: http://www.sonyahuber.com/ .
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Here's the rest of the schedule of events for week one:
Sunday, July 25
1:30-2:30 p.m. - Art Exhibit and Reception, Coburn Art Gallery
2:30-4 p.m. - “Poetry and the Visual Arts” with Peter Campion, Coburn Art Gallery
7 p.m. MFA Program Welcome & Reading by Sonya Huber, CNF, and Kathryn Winograd, Poetry
Monday, July 26
1-2 p.m. - "Lies We Must Tell: The Art of Shaping Creative Nonfiction" with Steven Harvey
6:30-7 p.m. - Thesis Readings: Joe Bastow and Abbey Allerding
7-8 p.m. - Reading - Natasha Trethewey
Tuesday, July 27
1-2:30 p.m. - "'Geography is Fate': Writing about Place and the Intersections of Public and Personal History" with Natasha Trethewey
6:30-7 p.m. - ENG 502 Student Reading - Erin Joyce, Emily Lees, David Wright
7 p.m. - MFA Faculty Reading - Mark Irwin, Poetry, and Bob Cowser, Jr., CNF
Wednesday, July 28
6:30-7 p.m. - ENG 502 Student Reading - Kimberlee Jackson, Kerry Noble, Jon Kerstetter
7 p.m. - MFA Faculty Reading - Ruth Schwartz, Poetry, and Dan Lehman and Jill Christman, CNF
Thursday, July 29
1-2 p.m. - "Lyric + Essay = X: Two Perspectives on Crossing Genres" with Robert Root & Kathryn Winograd
6:30-7 p.m. - Thesis Readings: Amy Campbell and Grace Curtis
7 p.m. - Reading by Richard Jackson and Brenda Miller
Friday, July 30
1-2:30 p.m. - "'The Hermit Crab Essay': Trying on New Forms for Your Personal Story" with Brenda Miller
7 p.m. - Brady Earnhart Concert
Saturday, July 31
10 a.m.-11 a.m. - Richard Jackson: Seminar on first publications of books & poems
11 a.m.-12 p.m. - David Groff: Writing Book Proposals: Preparing Your Platform
1-3 p.m. Ohio Poetry Association Quarterly Meeting, Dauch 105
And stay tuned for week two's events! Or, check out the schedule of events on the Ashland MFA Program's website.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Grace Curtis, soon-to-be graduate in poetry from the Ashland University MFA program, just won the Lettre Sauvage chapbook contest for her manuscript, The Surly Bonds of Earth. Stephen Dunn, the judge of the contest, had this to say about Grace's chapbook:
"In Grace Curtis' The Surly Bonds of Earth, we feel in the presence of a voice richly capable of blending image and statement as it explores its various concerns. Behind that voice is an intelligence we learn to trust, and a sense of narrative tact (most evident in "Weeding") as she thinks her way down the page. The 'outer seriousness, inner humor' quality that Frost championed is hers as well. Many pleasures here, many tones."
-- Stephen Dunn
Monday, July 12, 2010
Take care! - Jeff"
Literary Mama : Creative Nonfiction : Talismans of the Whirlpool