MFA@FLA Newsletter, Spring 2005

The MFA@FLA Newsletter makes public various enterprises, literary and not, of our graduates and faculty. It seeks to connect our graduates and to inform students considering applying to MFA@FLA of our accomplishments. The headnote is written by Padgett Powell, current Director of the program. The balance of the Newsletter is written by graduates, current students, and faculty.

Full Strength

With last year’s addition of Mary Robison to our fiction faculty, we are now running at full strength: in fiction Jill Ciment, David Leavitt, Padgett Powell, and Robison; in poetry Debora Greger, Michael Hofmann, William Logan, and Sidney Wade. Wade will be on sabbatical for the 2005-06 year, Greger and Logan away for Spring ’06. We are also at capacity and near capacity in MFA candidates: 18 in fiction, 16 in poetry.

Festival 2005

The 2005 Florida Writers Festival (February 11–12) will feature Karen Shepard, Jim Shepard, Norman Rush, and Lucie Brock-Broido. There will be informal talks as well as readings. Locations, schedule, and full bios are available on the Department of English Calendar of Events.

Editors 2005

Our annual editors visits this year, April 8–9, will include John Poch of 32 Poems, Christian Wiman of Poetry, Kathy Pories of Algonquin, Ann Patty of Harcourt, and Ann Close of Knopf. Poch and Wiman will read from their work Friday, April 8. Agent Deborah Grosvenor visited in November 2004. See the Department of English Calendar of Events.

Posthumous Publishing

Russ Schneider (MA, 1986) is enjoying a most respectable posthumous career. Before his death in 2000, he wrote six books. The first four of these were self-published or distributed nationally on a small scale. Doubleday published the fifth book, Siege, in 2003, and Ballantine has just issued it in a mass-market paperback. Action on Russ’s sixth book, Guerilla Gardening, is pending. All the books but this last concern, in fiction and non-fiction, Russo-German fighting. Lynne and Woody Schneider and Susan Mickelberry, his literary executors, worked hard on achieving notice for Russ’s work. Russ was one of the last students of the Smith Kirkpatrick/Harry Crews era of our program and would not have objected to being called a denizen of the swamp. We lament his passing. A fuller account of him may be read at <russschneider.net>.

Post Post Posthumous Publishing

The Oxford American, which has died three times by its editor’s account, has risen again, moving west and moving into the ivory tower a little. Paul Reyes (MFA, 1997) has managed to survive the latest aestivation and is still the senior editor. William Bowers (MFA, 1999) and Wendy Brenner (MFA, 1991) are still contributing writers. MFA@FLA has had more to do with this magazine, publishing in it and working for it, than with any other serial, with the possible exception of New England Review. We hope to continue our heavy involvement with The Oxford American. Its tenacity, indeed its pertinacity, must be saluted.

MFA@FLAAA

The Alumni Association of MFA@FLA now has its its own list serve: <crwalumni_l@lists.ufl.edu>. Contact Becky Soppe at <beckysoppe@hotmail.com> if you are a graduate and are not sure you are on this list serve. Contact Carla Blount at <crw@english.ufl.edu> if you are a graduate and did not receive a solicitation to be in this Newsletter. The list serve we use at MFA@FLA to communicate with graduates is different from the list serve developed by and for the alumni association, MFA@FLAAA.

Greenwood Residency

Plans are continuing apace for our summer residency at Greenwood Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia. MFA@FLA students and graduates will have a free room on the 5200-acre plantation in which to live and write. Their obligation to our hosts, The Nature Conservancy, will be to attend ecological programs on the plantation – how to properly burn the woods, how woodpeckers protect their homes from snakes – with an eye to their possible eventual writing about concerns germane to The Nature Conservancy’s various interests. The kennel, which once housed the Whitney bird dogs, has been selected for the party room, and a fire pit is in design.

A Special Thanks

MFA@FLA would like to thank Dorothy and Terry Smiljanich for their support of our program over the years. The Festival in particular would not have been what it has been without their contributions.

Our New Web Pages

Please have a look at the new web pages. We have prettified the scene with photos by John Moran and are on the lookout for photos of comparable quality that might be had for free (send them to us). We have bolstered the distinguished-graduate page by including graduates who have held or hold important positions in publishing or in the academy or at writing colonies; previously this page was restricted to graduates who had published books in their MFA-thesis field. We have added a small history of the program prior to 1980 by former faculty member Lawrence Hetrick.

Testimonials

Below are testimonials of MFA@FLA graduates, current students, and faculty chronicling their literary endeavors in 2004. They are as the writer has sent them, with only certain systemic changes incurred in reformatting them to the web. Taken together, and with those in the preceding Newsletters, they constitute the industry and the history and the value of our writing program. They attest to the broad practical value of the MFA@FLA degree in the world of letters and in the world.

Eve Adamson (MFA, 1992), <eadamson@mchsi.com>

Since I last wrote, a few things in life have changed. Sculptor-boyfriend moved in with me and the boys in April, and we all took a big “family car trip” to Florida in June, X-box and portable TV in tow so our adult heads wouldn’t explode with the sound of squabbling boys. My dad and I cut a jazz CD which should be finished around the first of the year, and I joined the International Association of Culinary Professionals which, along with my membership in the Dog Writer’s Association of America and the Cat Writer’s Association, Inc., makes me truly a freelancing nerd. Don Justice’s memorial service last month was a sad event, but it was also great to see everyone coming together to honor Don. I got to hang out with William, which I enjoyed immensely. On the work front, recent release includethe Idiot’s Guide to Being a Sex Goddess, the 2nd revised edition of the Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living, Cooking Basics for Dummies 3rd edition, (I re-did the 3rd ed, no cover credit but I did get title page credit), and I was the featured reader at Live from Prairie Lights on NPR for, of all things, the Idiot’s Guide to Pet Psychic Communication (the audience tried to shield their disappointment when they discovered I myself was not the actual pet psychic but merely the person who put together the words in the book). I have three books due on January 1 (HarperEssentials Guide to Beer, and two books in the new series Terra Nova: Discover a Whole New World of Dogs, Golden Retrievers and Beagles) and another due February 1 (American Pit Bull Terriers) so I am crazy-busy as usual. Of course I like it that way and would go insane with boredom were it otherwise. The boys are in 1st grade and 3rd grade – yikes, how did that happen? – and life is going pretty well.

Jay Atkinson (MA, 1982), <Jay_Atkinson@uml.edu>

My new book, Legends of Winter Hill, will be published by Random House in March 2005. Caveman Politics (Breakaway Books, 1997) and Ice Time (Random House, 2001) are still in print. This year I finally cracked the New York Times and have been writing adventure stuff for them, as well as book reviews for the Boston Globe, etc. I teach at Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts.

Chris Bachelder (MFA, 2002), <cbachelder@coloradocollege.edu>

I teach writing and literature at Colorado College. My career development e-book, Lessons in Virtual Tour Photography, is available free at <mcsweeneys.net> and my novel about muckraker Upton Sinclair (U.S.!) will be published by Bloomsbury in January 2006. I’ve recently had stories and essays in Harper’s, McSweeney’s, and The Believer. I live with my poet wife and two dogs in a nice old house in Colorado Springs. If we want to use the microwave, we have to turn off every downstairs light and appliance, or else we blow a fuse. That sound we hear late at night is the meth labs exploding.

William Bowers (MFA, 1999)

Book by me still coming from Harcourt early 2005. I got money from, and ink in, Esquire and People this year, and I continue to write for three “alternative” music magazines, one of which, No Depression, will feature an article by me in a Best Of No Depression anthology out from University of Texas Press in early 2005. I was selected by an agent and the Grateful Dead drummer for Da Capo’s “Best Music Writing 2004” anthology. Pitchforkmedia.com did a book in which I kept appearing; it was named Thesaurus Musicarum. I spoke thrice at the Arkansas Literacy Festival. I turned down a GQ piece. The University of Florida cited me in an ad for the poetry MFA, alongside Geoff Brock, coiner during workshop of the now-uzbekquitous phrase “pillow of sleep.” I feel fatter after I shower.

Wendy Brenner (MFA, 1991), <brennerw@uncw.edu>

Wendy Brenner’s essay about her former student’s gay wedding (in Gainesville) was published in the new Algonquin anthology The M Word. Her essay “Love & Death in the Cape Fear Serpentarium” – the research for which required her to go hunting for rattlesnakes with only a Maltese named Winky and the late William S. Burroughs’ gun as protection – appears in the relaunch issue of Oxford American. She also survived colon cancer this year. She is currently serving as Graduate Coordinator in the MFA program at UNC – Wilmington, which has caused her to begin referring to herself in the third person.

Geoffrey Brock (MFA, 1998), <geoffbrock@yahoo.com>

In the past year, I did the following: married the marvelous Padma Viswanathan, finished translating Roberto Calasso’s new book (Knopf, 2005), got expelled from the Garden of Stegner, moved from San Francisco to Tucson (where I am teaching at the Poetry Center), bought a brick house and a station wagon, and translated Umberto Eco’s new novel (Harcourt, 2005). Meanwhile, my translation of Cesare Pavese’s Disaffections was published in the UK by Carcanet and is being nicely reviewed in far-flung lands, including England, Ireland, and Australia. My own poems appear this year in Poetry, Literary Imagination, PN Review (UK), and elsewhere, and my definition of “Florida” appears in The Future Dictionary of America (McSweeney’s Books, 2004). But bigger than any of that is my wife: we have begun translating ourselves, and the arrival of our new issue is imminent. The next newsletter will contain my summa on diapers. I just received word that I have received the 2004 New Criterion Poetry Prize and that my manuscript Weighing Light will be published by Ivan R. Dee in the fall of 2005.

Coles Burroughs (MFA, 1997), <bcoles69@aol.com>

I am well though still no publications. Lots of encouraging rejection letters though for what that’s worth. I still live in Brooklyn and commute out to New Rochelle three days a week for my teaching job at Iona College. And I was married last month, up in Bowdoinham, Maine. Megan Keller (1996) was my witness.

Kevin Canty (MA, 1990)

I’m on sabbatical this year, living in Portland, Oregon. My novel Winslow In Love will be coming out from Nan A. Talese / Doubleday in February 2005. Thanks to the (subdued) generosity of Ms. Talese, I am now the proud owner of a Koffler “Rocky Mountain Trout” drift boat, secondhand but stout. Any and all who make it to Montana this summer will be invited to row while I fish.

David Caplan (MFA, 1993), <dmcaplan@owu.edu>

I am in Belgium on a Fulbright fellowship, giving a bunch of scholarly talks and teaching seminars on American literature. My favorite event, though, was when I was asked to respond to a screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 before 450 Belgian high school students. The questions ranged from, “I’d like to ask the American professor: Will corruption ever end in America?” to “I’d like to ask the American professor: What is the future of US-European relations?” I also have learned to stay away from the local delicacy, boulets, huge meatballs served with french fries. Oxford University Press just published my book Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form. My essays on poetry have also recently appeared or are forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review and in edited volumes published in the US and in France.

Geri Doran (MFA, 1995), <gdoran@pacifier.com>

Well, the best news of 2004 came in March, when I learned that Henri Cole had selected my manuscript for the Walt Whitman Award. That pretty much topped anything I’d ever hoped for. LSU will publish the book, Resin, in April 2005. Other news includes a lucky run of publications/acceptances in the summer (The New Republic, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and soon, The Atlantic Monthly), plus a fantastic new job at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, to which I commute through a forest of redwood, oak, and madrona trees. I’m trying hard not to wake up from this dream.

Jane Edwards (MA, 1987), <beckward@fdt.net>

This year, one of my screenplays won second place in the Rhode Island International Film Fest, another was a finalist in the San Diego FF, and I had a second-rounder in the Austin FF. I wrote and directed a (very) low-budget film shot around Gainesville that premiered at the Hippodrome; a distributor has expressed interest, promising a profit after we sell the first 700. I’m peddling two novels. A short story won honorable mention in the 18th New Millennium Writings contest. On a personal note, my oldest daughter, a mental-health counselor, will marry an English teacher in the spring. Finally, I wrote my Living Will: Let me go face down/ in the shag carpet alone/ no chart no i.v.

Katherine Sanchez Espano (MFA, 2000) & Allan Espano (MFA, 2000)

Katherine and Allan welcomed their first child, Elise, into the world on January 14, 2005. She was a healthy 7 pounds, 13 ounces at birth and 20.5 inches long. Katherine has poetry forthcoming in Louisiana Literature and stories forthcoming in The Jabberwock Review and Karamu. One of her poems published in The Bitter Oleander was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Bessie Gantt (MFA, 2000), <bessie_gantt@yahoo.com>

I’m busy with the triplets – John, George, and James – now almost a year-and-a-half old. I’ve been writing about my misadventures in an attempt to preserve my sanity. It’s not working!

Ivy Garlitz (MA, 1987)

This Autumn term at UEA I taught creative writing and a course in the contemporary British novel; in the Spring I’ll conduct a course in American and British poetry from the 1850s to the 1950s. This summer I participated in two readings in the Sounding the American Voice series, which features the work of American poets read by American authors resident in Britain. The July event celebrated Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, and took place at the London Review of Books bookshop; in August I was one of the poets reading and speaking about the work of Muriel Rukeyser at the Poetry Place in London. I was delighted to have the opportunity to travel to Dublin for the centenary of Bloomsday. While I visited the James Joyce Centre for an outdoor breakfast on July 16 I was interviewed by Irish radio. The Fall 2004 International Journal of Comic Art published a review I wrote on an exhibit “Wilf – A Life in Pictures” by James Pyman, which was held at the Norwich Gallery in the spring.

Debora Greger

My new book of poems, Western Art, was published by Penguin in October, 2004. In November I received the Corrington Award for Literary Excellence from Centenary College in Shreveport, where I also had an exhibit of my collages. Forthcoming in 2005 is the piece, complete with real bullet holes (but that’s another story), that I did for the cover of “Tar Heel Dead: Tales of Mystery and Mayhem from North Carolina.”

Peter Grimes (MFA, 2003)

Peter sleeps on a landing between a dominant, aggressive dog and a human couple he’s known for years. At night, the man and woman descend individually on several occasions to visit the bathroom on the dog’s floor. They pass just fourteen inches from Peter, who sleeps on top of the covers in his skivvies. Although either could take one of these night-time passings as an opportunity to scrutinize Peter unabashedly, he suspects that neither ever does so. The landing is in Philadelphia, where Peter teaches writing as an adjunct at a community college and a university. Two of his stories have been published, one in The Cream City Review (28.1) and one in Orchid: A Literary Review (4). He wants to hear news from everybody else.

Jerry Harp (MFA, 1991), <harp@lclark.edu>

Jerry Harp’s first book of poems, Creature, appeared from Salt Publishing in 2003. His second book, Gatherings (Ashland Poetry Press, 2005), is co-winner of the 2004 Robert McGovern Prize. Salt Publishing will bring out his third collection, Urban Flowers, Concrete Plains, in 2005. His fourth collection, Traces, is making the rounds to publishers. His reviews and essays continue to appear in such publications as American Book Review, The Iowa Review, and Pleiades. His current project is a book-length study of the work of Donald Justice. He teaches in the English Department at Lewis and Clark College. He is not in the habit of writing about himself in the third person but is willing to do so on special occasions.

Noy Holland (MFA, 1993)

I am sturdily in the blue in the northeast kingdom still, teaching at the University of Mass in Amherst. I co-direct the Juniper Inititiative at the university, which initiative brings together the many doings of the mfa program, including three reading series, a summer institute, a making-a-living-as-a-writer monthly seminar, and the Writers in the Schools project, which I began here four years ago. This year, we got the Juniper Prize in Fiction started – a most robust, auspicious beginning, am happy to say. I have a story in the recent Noon, and a second collection, What Begins with Bird, due out in September 2005. We are looking hard into the hard eye of winter and longing a little for the seepy heat of Florida. Our little family gets to go to Mexico for a spring sabbatical, starting soon, very soon.

Stephanie Kartalopoulos (MFA, 2003), <stephkarto@yahoo.com>

Stephanie is currently moaning her way through the onset of New England winter. When she moans and groans about the weather, she prefers to cuss in Greek under her breath as she walks down Massachusetts Avenue. At least until she passes the Redemption Tattoo Salon, which is painted an oddly punchy shade of red. Then she changes her thoughts on the ideas of redemption and tattoos. She wonders if she should get a tattoo? What would her students think? What would her cat think? Would the popular kids in the Greek Music Lovers Club revoke her membership? Would yaya be disappointed? What if the tattoo said the word “redemption”?

On a serious note, Stephanie is teaching business writing through Cambridge College and a Boston_based educational nonprofit, Year Up. She spends her days hanging out with young adults from the Boston area who teach her new slang words and hip hop dance moves. She submits her work to journals that mostly reject her with the impersonalized “We think you suck, but please give us a lovely donation anyway” photocopied wads of paper. She’s thinking of moving the hell out of the United States. She says that if any of you are coming to the Boston area to look her up.

Matthew Ladd (MFA, 2006)

This fall has seen two of my poems published in Margie and The Paris Review. Forthcoming in Fence. I also plan to attend the upcoming AWP conference in Vancouver and will be pleased to have company.

David Leavitt

A novel, The Body of Jonah Boyd, published in May. A non-fiction book, The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer, nearly through the editing process. A new literary magazine, out of the MFA program, is about to be born.

Margaret Luongo (MFA, 2001)

Billy and I have been living in Ohio since July 2004. I was hired as a visiting assistant professor of English at Miami University. People
here are fond of saying that Miami was a university before Florida was a state. In the fall, I’ll take on a permanent position here as an assistant professor of English. We’re still adjusting to the Midwest.

In October, Billy and I visited Gainesville and were so happy to see our Gainesville friends. I did a reading with Lola Haskins for The Hogtown Creek Review, and Billy’s photographs were included in a show of artwork from the magazine. We both had work published in the Fall 2004 issue. This year Fence will publish one of my short-shorts (“Mrs. Fargo”), which was in a group of short-shorts I submitted to the Florida Arts Council for an Individual Artist Grant. One of the judges wrote of my submission, “The short-short is a very difficult form and these are, sadly, just short.” Both letters – the acceptance and the rejection – came on the same day.

William Logan

This fall Debora Greger and I were Attaway Fellows at Centenary College, where we received the Corrington Medals for Literary Excellence. Last spring I won the Allan Tate prize from Sewanee Review. I read in Iowa City at the memorial services for Donald Justice, our beloved teacher and colleague, who died in August; later the UF MFA program held its own memorial reading in Gainesville, at Goerings’. I read in the spring at Phillips Exeter, where I also lectured on Whitman. I’ve had poems recently in Literary Imagination, the Nation, New Criterion, New Republic, New Yorker, Poetry, Salmagundi, Smartish Pace, TLS, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Washington Square, as well as in various anthologies. There are poems forthcoming in the New Republic, Paris Review, Parnassus, Salt, Sewanee Review, and Yale Review. Among my essays over the past year were a short one in Salmagundi called “Lowell’s Bubble,” a long one in Parnassus on Lowell’s Collected Poems, and a middle-sized one in The New Criterion on two books of Marianne Moore’s poems. Michael Hofmann and I had a dialogue in Poetry on contemporary British and American poetry, and some months later I wrote a short piece for the same magazine on hating Gerard Manley Hopkins. My verse chronicles appeared in the New Criterion in June and December, and I have an essay on Whitman forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review. I’ll have two books next fall: a book of poems, The Whispering Gallery (Penguin), and a book of essays and reviews, The Undiscovered Country (Columbia University Press).

Randall Mann (MFA, 1997) <randallmann62@yahoo.com>

In March, Zoo Press published my first collection of poems, Complaint in the Garden, winner of the Kenyon Review Prize. Reviews of it have appeared in Poetry, The Gettysburg, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Genre, Washington Blade, and elsewhere; I have been interviewed about the book by the Kenyon Review on-line and Lambda Book Report. I gave readings at AWP in Chicago and Kenyon College. Recent poems appeared in Poetry, Kenyon Review, Paris Review, Pleiades, Salmagundi, and Van Gogh’s Ear (Paris). In the December issue of Out magazine I was named one of the Out 100 of 2004, the one hundred openly gay artists and activists and designers and entrepreneurs who were the “success stories” of the year; the other 99 honorees include David Hockney, Ned Rorem, Tony Kushner, and Amelie Mauresmo. And in December, several of my poems were featured in Jenny Holzer’s projection series Xenon for Miami. What a year!

Manny Martinez (MFA, 1994)

I had my story “What the Dead Know” published in the October 2004 issue of The Sun. I am still at Santa Fe Community College with a gaggle of other alums.

Arthur McMaster (MFA, 2004)

MFA ticket in hand, our move to Greenville SC from Gainesville was as smooth as any such post_partum adventure can go. Sue and I found a homebuilder and a treed_lot we liked well enough to buy, and we now reside in Greer, minutes from the heart of old Greenville and her wicked stylin’ Main Street. We like it a lot (said the fish in the pot). I am teaching two sections of lit and comp at the University of South Carolina, Spartanburg – now called, oh-so-cleverly Upstate. Had a few publications during the last year, namely with Pegasus, Southwest Review, and RATTLE. I have work forthcoming in Mudfish and The Marlboro Review. I’m also still translating poetry from the Czech. Only Sharla knows if I have done it well, ha! But it is my “book” that keeps me working hardest. This is Musical Muse, Wives and Lovers of the Great Composers. More than you wanted to know about the shenanigans of Berlioz, Mozart, Puccini and 20 more. Still trying to find a decent lit agent. The book will be finished by April or May. Lots of room in the house for fellow UF scribblers. Come see us.

Shamrock McShane (MFA, 1987)

I was named 2004–2005 Teacher of the Year at Westwood Middle School in Gainesville. My play “The Votive Pit” opens at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre in January 2005.

Ryan Meany (MFA, 2002), <rmeany00@yahoo.com>

I published a story in Crazyhorse and my girlfriend says she likes my work.

Preston Merchant (MFA, 1996)

Documentary photography continues apace. I was in the United Arab Emirates, Trinidad, and Guyana this past year, working on a book on the worldwide Indian diaspora. Samples are available on my website, www.prestonmerchant.com. I’ll head to Durban, South Africa at the beginning of 2005 and England, I hope, later in the winter. I write for some offbeat trade and immigrant press, which helps fund these junkets. None of this has anything to do with poetry. Or maybe it has everything to do with poetry. When I find out, I’ll send up a flare.

Christian Nagle (MFA, 1994)

Been living in Japan for four years. I can speak Japanese as well as most elementary school students but am slightly behind them in the writing department. Kanji’s a bitch.

Michael Newirth (MFA, 1995)

I continue dodging fine china as Fiction Editor for Bridge Magazine, which morphed this year into a glossy_format bimonthly somewhat along the lines of Bomb or Doubletake (sigh). Recently we’ve published stories and reviews by the likes of Kevin Moffett, Becky Bradway, William Beverly, Aimee Bender, and Cris Mazza, as well as extensive poetry and contemporary art coverage. Visit our elliptical website at www.bridgemagazine.com – the Publisher’s two ferrets thank you. I returned to teaching this year, with four Comp II sections at the University of Illinois at Chicago (I now commute to a 28-story Brutalist tower perched above a freeway) and a workshop in creative nonfiction for Northwestern’s School of Continuing Studies’ new MCW program. I read at a Chicago Book Festival event sponsored by the Harold Washington Public Library, which resulted in my mug shot appearing in close proximity to one of the beefy, avuncular Mayor Daley in the shiny promotional booklet. I was robbed of $13 by three young ruffians on my ultra-gentrified street, reminding me of the old saw about bringing a knife to a gunfight. I’ve since moved to an isolated, 100-year-old coach house, which is clearly much safer.

Karen Gilchrist Poppele (MA, 1990), <lettrperfect@earthlink.net>

The sublime life continues in Southern Pines, NC, when we are not standing on the porch watching tornadoes touch down four blocks away. After teaching for 14 years at Fayetteville Tech. Com. College, I turned in my last final grades in December 2003 so I might focus my energy (what remains after attending to needs and whims of husband, darling daughters, six – sometimes seven – dogs, a 20-year-old cat with three and a half fangs, a lop-eared bunny, and a mellow Arabian) on, of all things, writing. I also freelance as a proofreader/editor/copy writer for an ad agency and anyone else who desires my so-called talents. Recently I edited and proofed books on religion, self-protection, handgun defense, restoration of Mercedes-Benz 190SLs, sight-size sculpting, and fantasy fiction (a harp run, please), and I’ve chaired the Moore County Writer’s Competition committee for three years. For my tireless efforts (tee hee), I rewarded myself with an Apple laptop, and I decided I deserve a U2 iPod as well, dammit. As for publication, I’ve had misses (Oxford American shut down shortly after I submitted a story – have since re-submitted), near hits (final consideration for two issues of Calyx – but wait, no, thank you!), and a couple of hits (recipient of the NC Humanities Council’s Linda Flowers prize in 2001, which included publication, and a Regional Artist Project Grant from the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Arts Council). I actually tell people now, should they ask how I eke out a living, that I am a writer. Some days. Once in a while. If I feel like it. On my non-writer days, I am an electrician’s helper to husband Scott, aka, “Sparky.” Or I am busy constructing (terrace on back of 100-year-old house, a fine, fine place for a Shiner bock and/or a good cigar while writing, stargazing, or watching an osprey drop dead right out of the night sky – we have pictures), or deconstructing (upstairs bathroom gutted five years ago– green board is up!), or homeschooling 10-year-old Sophie and seven-year-old Clara, who are so charming and beautiful that people give them things all the time. I still manage to keep my horse in the ring and my face out of the dirt, even when he really, really wants to return to his beloved round bale in the field, and I have taken up the art of belly dancing – shimmy, shimmy. I tossed daughters, old dog (for anyone who remembers Gabo the dachshund, he is nearly 16), and bunny in the truck and made a pilgrimage to my native Texas for the first time in 10 years, where I ate my weight in Real barbecue and invested in a pair of black lizard ropers. After a blood transfusion (four pints!) and two sprained ankles earlier this year, I have discovered perspective in life. And I am looking for a farm.

Padgett Powell

I have fictions lately or forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, Fugue, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, Land-Grant College Review, Unsaid, The Idaho Review, and Epoch, and a story in the The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories. In August at the commemoration of Flannery O’Connor’s fortieth year dead, I witnessed a man fitting her description of The Misfit read her story Parker’s Back on her front porch at the farm in Milledgeville. He had an apparent boyfriend who fit the description of the Misfit’s sidekick Bobby, and a black preacher in immaculate clothes sat next to them with an expression on his face that I believe is properly termed beatific. I believe that these were real flesh-and-blood people, at the immanent level.

Benjamin Pryor (MFA, 2001)

I will have poems in The North Carolina Literary Review.

Marjorie Sandor (former member of the MFA fiction faculty (1988 to 1994))

Marjorie Sandor won the 2004 National Jewish Book Award for her short story collection Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime, published in 2003 by Sarabande Books.

Richard Schmitt (BA, 1995)

My big accomplishment for the year I suppose was convincing West Virginia Wesleyan College, where I’ve taught for two years, that I am a menace to college freshman. To safeguard them the new Dean has decided to let me out of teaching Composition. The old Dean, Jeff Abernathy, flew the coop fast but had Padgett Powell and Kevin Canty up here reading earlier this year and that was fun to have Gator People about the place for a while. Other than that, I finished a novel that is in the hands of my agent, and I published a short story, which will appear in Eclipse. I spent the summer in Ireland where they wear gloves in July.

Deborah Schwartz (BA, 1999), <contact@debcentral.com>

I completed a master’s degree in creative writing at College Park back in 2001, and now live in New York City in an apartment owned by my uncle, who has been institutionalized for the past eight years. I work at a museum downtown, where I wear a fez and turn a crank. In March, I was selected (among many other noteworthy competitors) for jury service, and sat on a criminal trial for eleven weeks. I recently won first place in the Arts & Letters Journal of Contemporary Culture fiction competition. My fiction piece will be published in their journal this fall. In my spare time, I maintain a fansite dedicated to myself (http://www.debcentral.com) where, among other things, I post my extensive collection of rejection letters, as well as my acceptance note from Arts & Letters.

Gail Shepherd (MA, 1985), <zenana57@bellsouth.net>

Gail Shepherd, who apparently can’t hold any job for longer than six months, now writes about food and dining for New Times in Fort Lauderdale and works as a correspondent for People. Her friends like to imagine that she spends all her time trading omelet technique with Emeril and knocking back Grey Goose martinis with Ashton and Demi, but reality is just a tad less glamorous. Her editor promises she will be amply rewarded in heaven (he actually said this!). But really all she wants is health insurance. She’s counting on George W. and his “higher father” to provide.

Becky Soppe (MFA, 2003)

Ploughshares has awarded my story “The Pantyhose Man” the Cohen Prize, for best short story published in the magazine last year.

Jennifer Phifer Strange (MFA 2001), <jstrange@centenary.edu>

I am still kicking in Shreveport, Louisiana. Still teaching in Centenary College’s English Department, still writing for the college president. In November, we hosted William and Debora as the first joint recipients of our annual Corrington Award for Literary Excellence; a week of poetry discussions, class visits, art exhibits, and barbaric yawps ensued. This December I joined other alumni of the Centenary Suzuki School and played Bach’s double violin concerto with our local symphony; hopefully we weren’t as squeaky as the Twinklers. And last June I walked 190 miles over 14 days across northern England with three other women, taking Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast path; the bogs are tricky, but the descents from the Lake District are worth it all.

Troy Teegarden (MFA, 2006), <tteegard@english.ufl.edu>

I’m here, and it ain’t Kentucky, or Sri Lanka, but I’ve got palm trees in front of my window and a swimming pool that’s clean most of the time. The beach is close, and I now possess a KOA Value Kard, so getting out of town on a regular basis isn’t so hard. But I’m broke and considering downgrading beer costs by switching back to Miller High Life. The best deal on beer and atmosphere is the Happy Hour Pool Hall downtown. Jill Ciment rocks in workshop, our first year fictions are a bunch of party hogs, so life is mostly good. I’ve placed a couple of poems here and there, but I’m supposed to be placing fiction, so it must be opposite year. William Logan wouldn’t let me in his graduate poetry workshop as an elective cause “mostly it’s that I don’t feel in sufficient sympathy with the poems. You’re trying for a catchy, all-American, offhand diction; but for me the subjects seem too thin to offer any resistance to the language.” That was encouraging, must be the reason I’m in fiction. I’m writing lots of stories though, been sending to contests, mainly the ones that include a free subscription with the cost of the contest entry. No expectations, just lots of subscriptions to journals that I probably won’t have time to read. Support the small press! I spend a significant amount of time watching alligators in Bivens Arm. I have recently purchased a cheap fishing pole and a collapsible chair. My future is bright.

Chris Tusa (MFA, 2000)

Well . . . still teaching in the English Department at LSU. The Chancellor here has vowed to fire all instructors over the next five years (part of his illustrious Flagship Agenda). So, thrown headlong into survival mode, I did what any good writer would do. I started a web-design company. At this point, I have over 100 hosting customers, and I’ve designed over 200 web sites (with the help of other designers and programmers). I also decided to write a novel. I have three chapters so far, and I’ve been publishing poems here and there (most recently in Texas Review, The South Dakota Review, and Story South). Still waiting for a publisher for my book_length collection of poems. I’ve also begun applying for creative writing jobs. Received an offer from a small liberal arts college in North Carolina, but they said they wanted someone with a Ph.D. in lit as well. So, still waiting.

Richard Weems (MFA, 1993)

I had a chapbook of fiction published by a small publisher in Texas and I have a full-length collection coming out from Spire Press in the near future.  Stories of mine have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Mississippi Review, Other Voices, Crescent Review, Florida Review and a running gig with Pif Magazine to do pretty much whatever I had a hankering to do (fiction, memoir of Gainesville in the Danny Rolling days, instructional pieces on book theft and desecration, etc.).

Jonas Williams (MFA, 2004), <jonasww@ufl.edu>

I now write stories less than one page long. One practical benefit is their portability: crumpled or folded, they fit into wallets, under tongues, behind ears, between toes. I stuff them (all at once!) into my pockets and strut with apparently outrageous hips.

Chad Woody (MFA, 2000), <floppycrow@aol.com>

I had a poem in Hayden’s Ferry Review early this year. My initial joy at finally appearing in a journal with really good cover art was quickly overtaken by my general malaise over literary magazines. I decided to buck my way out of the lit-review ghetto. Having given up on such quality venues as the New Yorker, I landed myself in the only high-circulation publisher of poems I could manage: look for my dirty limericks in the November and December 2004 issues of Penthouse, and in future issues as well. I will now be a regular contributor to the magazine of sex, politics and protest.

I’m supposed to be married this May, to my favorite gal, Heather Johansen. After a summer trip to Scandinavia, we’re considering a move to Denmark in order to thoroughly extract ourselves from the red states. But, considering currency exchange rates, Illinois may have to do. John Ashcroft returneth to the Ozarks even now, so I need to get the show on the road.

C. Dale Young (MFA, 1993)

C. Dale Young recently began his tenth year editing poetry for the New England Review. He recently has had poems published in Slate and Virginia Quarterly Review. He has poems forthcoming in Georgia Review, Salmagundi, and Yale Review. He will be a member of the faculty for the 2005 Napa Valley Writers’ Conference in July 2005. His second book, The Second Person, is due out from Zoo Press in April.

toptop