MFA@FLA Newsletter, Spring 2006

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.

A Good Year

During the 2004–2005 span, fifteen MFA@FLA graduates published seventeen books. In alphabetical order, these are they:

Festival 2006

The 2006 Florida Writers Festival (February 17–18) will feature Jo Ann Beard, Scott Spencer, Barbara Hamby, and David Kirby. 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 2006

Our annual editors visits this year, April 7–8, will include agent Deborah Grosvenor, Stephen Corey of The Georgia Review, Hilda Raz of Prairie Schooner, David Yezzi of The New Criterion, and Besty Sussler of BOMB. See the Department of English Calendar of Events.

Dueling Listserves

The Alumni Association of MFA@FLA now has its own list serve: <>. Contact Becky Soppe at <> if you are a graduate and are not sure you are on this listserve. Anyone on the list can use it to communicate to the entire list.

Contact Carla Blount at <> if you are a graduate and did not receive a solicitation to be in this Newsletter. The listserve we use at MFA@FLA (only we can post to it) to communicate with graduates is different from the listserve developed by and for the MFA@FLA Alumni Association <>.

A Good Summer

Our summer residency at the Greenwood Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia, happened in May 2005, to unanimously positive review. Fifteen MFA@FLA students (alumni, current students, and one incoming student) had a free room on the 5200-acre plantation in which to live and write. The kennel, which once housed the Whitney bird dogs and which had been selected for the party room, had been crushed by a large water oak by the time we matriculated. We made do. We were credited with spotting more wildlife (Meg Shevenock told Todd Engstrom, TNC boss, as he gave us a bird lecture that he was standing on a snake) (“Where?” “Right there.” And Todd picked it up) and walking more woods than have “high-power eco” visitors to Greenwood, according to Sean Coyne, facilities manager. We had a catfish dinner for eight of one big catfish, caught by Annie McFadyen on a gizzard. We held readings by headlamp. We beer ponged and beer ponged. “Word,” it kept being said, “is going to get out.” Then, precipitously, in August, The Nature Conservancy, our host in this venture, and representatives of Greenwood in New York called off the transfer of Greenwood to TNC. This development makes uncertain our going back to Greenwood. The possibilities of going back, or of going to another plantation in the area, are being explored. We will, if we can, go back.

A Farewell

Padgett Powell will desist as director of this program at year’s end. David Leavitt and Jill Ciment will co-direct 2006/07. Powell hopes that new direction may secure better funding, which a program in the top twenty in the nation must have.


Eve Adamson (MFA, 1992), <>

I continue to write things and people continue to publish them, and they continue to be about things almost entirely non-literary. Forthcoming: HarperEssentials Guide to Beer; Adopting a Pet for Dummies; and Mediterranean Women Stay Slim Too: Eating to be Sexy, Fit, and Fabulous. I also wrote the recipes for The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Magick and was called in to do the 3rd edition revision of Cooking Basics for Dummies. For the latter, I got my name on the title page, but not on the cover, which only featured the original authors, even though they wanted nothing more to do with the thing. I did have two poems in the New England Review this year, in the same issue as William Logan. This pleased me. Finally, my CD will also be out before the end of the year: Dick Watson Trio – Live at the Lighthouse III, featuring Eve Adamson. Dick Watson is my dad, so anyone would be correct in concluding that nepotism is alive and well in the world of small-time jazz.

Deborah Ager (MFA, 1997)

My poems will appear in Gargoyle, The Eleventh Muse and Tigertail, A South Florida Annual (2006). 32 Poems, the magazine I created with John Poch, had poems appear in The Best American Poetry 2005 and in Best New Poets 2005. In other news, Bill Beverly (PhD, 1998) caught Olive Beverly (MFA, 2025) in the front hallway of our home – much to the surprise of all involved. He makes a damn fine midwife.

Jay Atkinson (MA, 1982), <>

My new book, Legends of Winter Hill (Crown Publishers, 2005) has spent six weeks on the Boston Globe bestseller list. My novel City in Amber will be published by Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama in 2007. I have an essay on playing ice hockey appearing in BestLife magazine, a spinoff of Men’s Health, in January 2006.

Chris Bachelder (MFA, 2002), <>

My wife and I had a baby girl (Alice) in August. She’s long and serious, reluctant to sleep. My novel U.S.! will be published in February, and I have short pieces forthcoming in The Oxford American, The Cincinnati Review, and Mother Jones. I teach writing and literature at Colorado College.

Eric Bliman (MFA, 2007), <>

I divide my time between the kitchenet and the study which occasionally doubles as my bedroom. When not playing pool, I experiment with coffee, deprivation, and cigarets. I humbly announce that the results have been replicated, approximately once; this tinkerer never said anything worth repeating. I hope to publish my findings, in verse, in the M------ Review, which switches aliases more frequently than Osama bin Laden’s insulin courier. On 11 July, 1991, the summer I slept on a cot and supervised eight astoundingly manic youths, I was presented with the Camp Kon-O-Kwee “Snow King” award, resembling a stained, leather coaster or a tiny frisbee. My critics write: “He shows all the ambition of a Khan, and the insouciance to match.”* [*Note: Arthur once parked horses for a living.]

William Bowers (MFA, 1999), <>

Almost finished typing the nonfiction book All We Read Is Freaks for Harcourt. Still typing the fiction book Grimace for no one yet. Typing a piece about the late band Guided By Voices for an as-yet unnamed collection of concert narratives. Typing one sentence for a “one-hundred-author short-short” for that Tulane lit review. Typing a play because I applied to Juilliard one morning when I felt unappreciated by a white woman? Taping a pilot for a public radio show, tentatively titled Blister, with the producer of Michael Feldman’s Whad’ya Know. Still typing a monthly column, “Puritan Blister,” for the Pitchforkmedia website. Still typing reviews and features for each issue of Magnet and No Depression magazines. Just got taken on by Paste magazine. The Village Voice, in whose music critics’ poll I participate, cited, quoted, and now “permanently” links to my bandwidth-poaching, indulgent, profane, and mostly sublegal MP3 blog, which can be skimmed at <>. A piece by me closed the new Best Of No Depression anthology from University of Texas Press. The Daily Texan newspaper said, “William Bowers rambles about instrumental arrangements, lyrical content and why Iron & Wine’s new album is different from its predecessors. All of this is going to read less like journalism and more like a waste of time in a few years.” I crushed both wrists in a case of ropeswing-into-sinkhole mismanagement, and now they don’t bend. Thus I can’t perform a push-up, cup pennies or Skittles, touch my butt, or cradle a baby.

Geoffrey Brock (MFA, 1998)

My son Ravi Keats Brock befell me last December, bringing great joy and also, it seems, good fortune: one week after his birth, my first book, Weighing Light, received the New Criterion Poetry Prize, and in the sleep-deprived months that followed I received a poetry grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a tenure-track job teaching creative writing and translation at the University of Arkansas, starting in 2006. My translations of two new books also appeared during this time: Roberto Calasso’s K. (“superbly translated,” said the New York Times) and Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (“the translation is truly excellent,” said the New York Review of Books). I’ve just finished translating Antonia Arslan’s harrowing first novel, about the Armenian genocide, which won a slew of awards in Italy and is being made into a movie by the marvelous Taviani brothers. And poems of mine have recently appeared or will soon appear in various journals, both print (PN Review, 32 Poems, Cincinnati Review) and internet (Drunken Boat, Memorious, Cortland Review). And Weighing Light will be shipping any day now. And Ravi has six teeth and is experimenting with perambulation.

Coles Burroughs (MFA, 1997)

Not much immediate news. I live in Brooklyn with my husband and pit bull. We may all move to France soon.

Kevin Canty (MA, 1990), <>

After a sabbatical year in Portland, Oregon, we are back in Montana. 12-year-old Nora attended the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls while in Oregon, and dyed her bangs fuchsia. Turner, now 16 and taller than I, saw many rock shows. My novel, Winslow in Love, came out in February. I spent a blissful six weeks at the MacDowell Colony earlier this spring, taught at the Tin House summer writers’ thing, and wrote a piece that was somewhat tangentially related to Nat King Cole for the Oxford American music issue. Oh yeah, and had drinks with Marjorie Sandor and Peter Eichenberger one night in Portland.

Suzanne Carlton (MFA,1996)

I am teaching writing at Santa Fe Community College; I also edit the Santa Fe Review online journal. (Please send your work!) My husband and I are adopting a girl from China. We hope she likes cats because we have a lot of them.

Geri Doran (MFA, 1995), <>

As I write this, I’m preparing for departure on my Amy Lowell Scholarship year. I’ll be in Lisbon to start and then perhaps Budapest, somewhere in Morocco, Ireland. The itinerary’s open, so long as I find congenial places to write. The other remarkable happening this year was publication of my first book, called Resin, in July. Otherwise, trying to learn Portuguese and trying to squeeze an apartment’s worth of stuff into a 5x10 storage unit. It’s been a marvelous year.

Bessie Gantt (MFA, 2000), <>

I’m still the mother of triplets, now in the throes of the terrible twos. I rant and rave about it all in my online journal at <>. The boys and I read about a thousand children’s books a week or at least the same one a thousand times, and so I’m determined to write one that’s better, precipitating my first rejection slip from an agent. It didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would so I’m going to try it again. I’ve joined a tennis team and my doubles partner and I have gotten creamed by several old ladies, but we’re getting better. I’ll be a country-club wench in no time.

Charlie Geer (MFA, 2001), <>

Visited B. Pryor and his son Ibai up in Chapel Hill recently. He’s got a righteous new place up there, and we had some fun breaking it in. Corn liquor was involved, but the bedlam did not approach that of the Duck-Pond Days. A good thing, we supposed. Anyway, a different thing. We are getting older.

Been promoting Outbound with readings and such here and there. A book-promoting body can certainly get to missing the crowds we used to have at Goering’s. Spoiled, we were.

Breadwise, I’m still teaching comp at the College of Charleston. Thinking it’s time for a change. Here’s one reason why:

“The jest of William Shakespeare’s Othello can be summed up in one word: the pure evil character Iago. Although he frequently exhumes honesty in front of people, he is actually a liar and mean. Iago constantly omits bad vibes throughout the play. Therefore, the underlined meaning of his actions are not clear.”

Peter Grimes (MFA, 2003), <>

I turned down the Nobel Prize in Literature this year so as not to let success go to my head. Otherwise my public writing achievements have been slim (no publications in 2005), if not discouraged (a few members of my Philly workshop have taken offense to an alleged surfeit of dental imagery in my recent stories). Privately, I am pleased. On the sleeping front, I no longer take my rest in an alcove but on a reconstituted mattress of floral design. I am with woman. We walk the streets together, nodding alike at some unfortunates while, in step, avoiding others. Siamese instinct drives us from the glint above their mud-capped teeth. In the fall, I hope to hunker back down into a studied academic stance (PhD, novel-writing).

Brandon Hartley (MFA, 2007)

Early in the semester, Brandon received news of his 2nd place prize in The Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers annual student award for undergraduate poetry for “Air Conditioner Carvings” and other poems. Also this fall Brandon’s poem “Cheese” was published in 32 Poems, and he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Noy Holland (MFA, 1994)

We are buttoning down for another winter in Massachusetts, fishing out the mittens, softened by a semester’s leave in Baja. Homeschooled the children, who could not believe anybody saw fit to pay me for my teaching. My second story collection, What Begins With Bird, just came out from FC2.

Anton Janulis (MFA pending), <>

I live in Ukraine.

Amanda Jones (MFA, 2007)

The six or so weeks of the Fall semester that come after Halloween can be rough, especially when your “Mardi Gras Flasher” costume is a surprise hit. On a lighter note, I’ve got a poem forthcoming in Asphodel. It’s my first time getting published.

Noelle Kocot (Tomblin) (MFA, 1995)

I will be going on a cross-country book tour through Wave Books (formerly Verse Press) to promote my next book. Upon the death of my much beloved husband, composer Damon Tomblin, I took religious vows in the Catholic Church. I live in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where I was born and raised. I am generally happy.

David Leavitt

A non-fiction book, The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer, came out in November, 2005 from Atlas/Norton. At present I’m working hard on Subtropics, the new literary magazine out of the MFA program.

William Logan

Last fall I published a book of poems, The Whispering Gallery (Penguin), and a book of essays and reviews, The Undiscovered Country (Columbia University Press). I also received the inaugural Randall Jarrell Award in Criticism from the Poetry Foundation, the publishers of Poetry. My poems have recently appeared in Modern Review, New Criterion, New England Review, New Yorker, Notre Dame Review, Paris Review, Parnassus, Poetry, Sewanee Review, Sewanee Theological Review, Smartish Pace, Southwest Review, TLS, Virginia Quarterly Review, Washington Square, and Yale Review. I have poems forthcoming in Hudson Review, New England Review, Salmagundi, and Sewanee Review. I had long essays on Walt Whitman’s brags in Virginia Quarterly Review and on Florida and poetry in Parnassus, as well as a long review of Robert Lowell’s letters in Virginia Quarterly Review. I also had a short review on a bad anthology in the Wall Street Journal. Poetry will publish an essay called “The End of Criticism” in February, and there are of course more verse chronicles in the works. In the past year, I’ve read poetry at the University of Virginia, UCLA, Denison College, Mary Washington University, and Grinnell College, and given lectures on Whitman at the University of Virginia and Mary Washington University. I also read from Donald Justice’s poems at a memorial reading for him in New York.

Michael Loughran (MFA, 2005), <>

Am living, with ladyfriend and dog, in Philadelphia, one block west of one of two extant American shot towers. Am teaching the art of writing about the art of Frank O’Hara’s writing to art students in the First Year Writing Program at the University of the Arts. Had poems in Tin House and Harvard Review, and will have in American Letters and Commentary, LIT, and jubilat. Accidentally co-authored an essay on technocracy and poetry, to be read at conferences in Tunisia and Hawaii (please send cash, warm food). Am hooting all the way.

Margaret Luongo (MFA, 2001), <>

I’m still teaching creative writing at Miami University. Brilliant Corners will publish a story of mine in the December/January issue.

Krissy Madrid (MFA, 2000), <>

I’m working 70 hours a week (seriously) as an illustrator, plagiarizing the work of other artists. I hate drawing. I am no longer poor, but I have no soul: gave that to my cat so she might live another year. Now and then I sit up in the window of my apartment and sing “Moon River” as I strum a banjo. Or at least until somebody honks downstairs, at which point I head down the fire escape and smash my banjo over the head of whatever cabdriver/trucker/tourist/sanitation employee was feeling a little restless at the stoplight that day.

Seriously, I spent a week at the end of October as the sole occupant of an aging hotel with a medieval theme.  References to The Shining be damned. Except for that I was terrified of the topiary, it was the best week ever.

Mike Magnuson (MFA, 1997), <>

I continue teaching at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and consequently my life’s ambition is to avoid reading anything written by anybody. A corollary to my life’s ambition: I still haven’t finished the not-so-great novel I’ve been not writing for the last four years. I am happy, though. I am a contributing writer at Bicycling magazine and have articles forthcoming in Men’s Health and in Backpacker, one of which concerns an incredibly stupid canoe trip I took last summer down the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Cairo, Illinois. Scary shit, that. The river stinks. The upstream barges create turbulence in the river equivalent to what you might find in the mid-Atlantic, except with whirlpools the size of houses forming, without warning, in places an ignorant canoeist like me couldn’t possibly predict. And I have never liked Mark Twain. What else? On weekends during the fall I enter and sometimes do well in cyclocross races, and sometimes, when the urge is too great to resist, I post pictures and information on my website, <>. Oh yes, and my daughters are five and nine and want to be hippies when they grow up. They have my blessing.

Randall Mann (MFA, 1997), <>

I recently moved to Kansas City, where I am Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. I’ve had poems in Poetry, Pleiades, Subtropics, Mantis, and on Poetry Daily; new poems are forthcoming in Salmagundi and Pleiades. I read at the Gist Street Reading Series in Pittsburgh and at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in San Francisco. I edit One Sentence Review, a magazine of one-sentence book reviews, with D.A. Powell. I am Advisory Editor for BkMk Press and New Letters.

Arthur McMaster (MFA 2004), <>

This was probably a pretty satisfying year, but I’m not sure because I was too busy having it to really tell. I finished my book! Yea. It’s about a hundred or so women in the lives of thirty classical composers. Anyway, I hope everyone who rides bus 10 in Gainesville will buy it. Then I’ll be quite well off. You should see how many people ride that bus, and don’t even ask about bus 43. Now I just drive my car to classes. I teach some comp/lit. Well, I guess it’s the law here in South Carolina. If you want to teach anything about writing poetry in the Palmetto State you have to teach comp/lit too. I don’t do clichés anymore, so I can’t offer any insight into how the piper gets paid. (Funny how many of these piper guys are Chairmen of English Departments). I do teach fiction and poetry writing at USC Upstate. And I’ll reprise my gig teaching poetry workshops at Furman in the Spring term. That’s just a Continuing Ed thing. Not the big tent. But life is NOT just about adjunct teaching for gambling money, and drinking pinot noir in Sonoma, and playing golf, and taking naps. Heck no. I published stuff in North American Review (the short list I was invited to be on proved a bit too long), and I have more poetry forthcoming in Vox Journal. I even wrote a short story and sent that out. I sent it out five times... I’ll let ya know.

Shamrock McShane (MFA, 1987), <>

We’re shooting The Votive Pit on location at Westwood Middle School. I’m playing the crazed science teacher known as the Bald Man. It’s a follow-up to my role as a UF professor in The Hawk Is Dying.

Preston Merchant (MFA, 1996), <>

I’ve quit the Upper West Side for Jackson Heights, Queens, to the famous street of Indian shops – saris, samosas, wedding jewelry, appliances, and thumping Bollywood bhangra. Photography is going very well. I’m shooting for Indian-American media, as well as for my own book on the global Indian diaspora (recent junkets include Houston, Los Angeles and Durban, South Africa). “Funworld,” the amusement park magazine that loves UF, is sending me to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina this winter. See me at <>.

Michael Newirth (MFA, 1995), <>

I published numerous book reviews in 2005, primarily in Time Out Chicago and the Chicago Reader, where I also had longer pieces on George Pelecanos and Harry Mathews. I continue to serve as fiction editor for Bridge Magazine, now publishing six times a year with a lower cover price and a projected circulation of 10,000. Recent contributors include Cris Mazza, Barry Gifford, and Stephen Dixon; we remain interested in all manner of reportage from the far edges of contemporary culture (see <>). We are also planning the second Nova Younger Artists Fair in late April, 2006. This fall I taught four creative writing workshops at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Although this entailed rising at 6:30 am, I still felt like the least grim commuter on the CTA.

Sara Lou O’Connor (MA, 1977), <>

After 20 years (and an MFA in Film Production from USC), I returned to Florida and found I could write again. A novel, two screenplays, many poems. Now for the hard part, sending them out. Finding out if I have the discipline and stamina it takes. In my spare time I am doing an online PsyD. I am studying the effects of repression in men, so let me know if you’ve noticed any.

Karen Gilchrist Poppele (MA, 1990)

I stay busy with home schooling our daughters, ferrying them about to all of their activities, and earning part of a living with my editing, proofreading, and copy writing business. I have taken up contra dancing and helped form our own local group, the Sandhills Contra Dancers, and I edit the Triangle Country Dancers’ newsletter, the Hey! And I am enjoying learning to play the bodhran – or annoying the family and dogs with it anyway. The Irish fiddle is next. They may banish me to the paddock to practice....

We said goodbye to four of our canines this past year, but picked up a new little dachshund, Jack, about a month before Gabo (my buddy at UF) crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He is a tinier version of Gabo – and has a voracious appetite for books. He has eaten two telephone books and two hardback books in the past week, one a signed, limited edition of a book I edited and proofread, the other a collection of short stories I didn’t particularly care for. He is not a discriminating reader.

In August I gave a reading of my short story “The Cure” at the North Carolina Humanities Council’s “We the People” conference as part of the conference’s opening in Chapel Hill. They even gave me a hanging badge with my name and “Writer” on it. I am still working on my novel, and have finally come up with a beginning. The middle is done.

Padgett Powell

I published oddments in The Land-Grant College Review, The Idaho Review, Epoch, The Oxford American, and Tin House. I read at the local county library, a good venue. I am removing myself from directorship of this program. I hope that this Newsletter continues to manifest the prodigious output of the program, in the voices of the graduates, and that the alumni association of MFA@FLA will continue to form up and bond and be useful unto itself.

Benjamin Pryor (MFA, 2001)

We recently purchased a tree house in primordial Chapel Hill and entertained Charles Geer III and his lady as inaugural houseguests. Bloody quaffs ineffective at prying us from the tube, we alternated football and Lawrence Welkian borpnoots; Charlie ate more chocolate than a grown man ought and lodged on the love seat in a fetal cherub pose, not yet aging morosely, but seasoning. I will soon appear again in the Oxford American and elsewhere.

Jennifer Phifer Strange (MFA, 2001), <>

I learned about the red-cockaded woodpecker with Padget et al. (hi all) last May and then took up tennis over the summer while awaiting my ten-year high school reunion. It came last weekend, along with old acquaintances who have become attorneys and/or undergone plastic surgery. In the meantime, Katrina and Rita have left major economic impacts on northwest Louisiana, where Micah and I still live: everything that could become a shelter filled quickly, locals gave much in goods and time, and the community is still reeling (if only in minor shadow to what our neighbors just south have felt).

Chris Tusa (MFA, 2000), <>

Still teaching at LSU. Recent work has been published in Connecticut Review, Prairie Schooner, Texas Review, Louisiana Literature, and South Dakota Review. My second chapbook of poetry, Haunted Bones, is due out from Louisiana Literature Press this January. Also, I’ve been invited to read from my book-length poetry manuscript, The Drowned Light, at Yale this November. My first novel, Sons of God, is currently under consideration.

Sidney Wade

I’ve had poems published in Paris Review, Bomb, Quadrant (Australia), and The Autumn House of Contemporary American Poetry; translations published in Kenyon Review, Two Lines, Eda: An Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry, and Translation Review. I coordinated, with Sylvie Blum-Ried, an international translation symposium at UF called “Translation Routes.” I guest-edited an all-Turkish issue of Translation Review and am the poetry editor of UF’s new literary magazine, Subtropics. I read in May at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, and as a featured speaker at Berry College’s “Southern Women Writers’ Conference.” The invitation gratified but puzzled my Yankee soul.

Suzanne Warren (MFA, 2004), <>

I’m in my second year of the PhD program in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati. At present, the greatest joy in my writing life is my pseudonymous blog. I can’t broadcast the name of it, however; according to recent reports in the Journal of Higher Education, a saucy, impudent blog such as my own, with its news of phlegm, porn, and regret, may hurt one’s academic career prospects.

But if you email me, I will reveal the address to you, and only you.

Martin Wilson (MFA, 1998), <>

I signed with an agent at Sterling, Lord last winter, and I’m currently working on a novel for young adults. A story of mine will be published in 2006 in Rush Hour, a newish literary journal aimed at teens published by Random House. I am still loving New York City. I am now working as a publicist at Vintage/Anchor Books. Interestingly enough, one of the books I’m promoting is ex-UF MFA faculty member Nancy Reisman’s The First Desire.

C. Dale Young (MFA, 1993)

I made partner in my medical practice last Fall. I continue to practice medicine full-time, edit poetry for New England Review, and have been teaching in the Warren Wilson MFA Program. I have recently published poems in Bloom, Georgia Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry. I pulled my second book from Zoo Press and was lucky to have it picked up by Four Way Books. It is now due out from them in March 2007. My biggest news is that I am marrying my beloved of five years, the biologist and composer Jacob Bertrand, in April of 2006.