Monday, November 8, 2010

Visiting Writers 2011

A hearty welcome to the visiting writers and editors who will be joining the Ashland University MFA program next summer!

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

Deborah Fleming, Professor of English at Ashland University, received her Ph.D. in 1985 from Ohio State University and is Chair of the Department and Editor of the Ashland Poetry Press. Her research interests include W. B. Yeats, Robinson Jeffers, Anglo-Irish Literature, Modern Poetry, and Environmentalist Literature. She is author of “A man who does not exist”: The Irish Peasant in W. B. Yeats and J. M. Synge from the University of Michigan Press and articles in such journals as Jeffers Studies, Eire-Ireland, and Papers in Comparative Literature. She has published a chapbook of poetry, Migrations, and individual poems appear in such journals as Hiram Poetry Review, Organization and Environment, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Karamu, Cottonwood, Pennsylvania Review, and Blueline. She received the Vandewater Poetry Award from Ohio State and a fellowship from the National Endowment for Humanities, and she had been a keynote speaker at the W. B. Yeats Society of New York and the Tor House Foundation Fall Festival.


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,, 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


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.

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