MFA@FLA Newsletter, Spring 2009

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, the balance by graduates, current students, and faculty.

Larger news

We have made the program a three-year affair, beginning with the class of 2011 (entering 2008). The last two-year class, 2009, will graduate this spring. There will be no class of 2010. The new three-year program will give a third year of full support with virtually no course work to impede the writing of the thesis. We intend this extra time to facilitate the writing of publishable books. In this we believe.

Large news

We have moved the Writers Festival from February to November, with the result that there were two festivals in 2008, in February and November.

The first of these November affairs featured Marshall Klimasewiski, Elizabeth Spires, Robin Robertson, and Pete Dexter. The 2009 Festival will be next November 13-14, The Alumni-Named-Chris Festival. Alumni Chris Adrian and Chris Bachelder, and poet C.D. Wright, are scheduled to read, more TBA.

Normal-sized news

Some publications for which there is no testimonial evidence below include Jill Ciment, Heroic Measures (winter 2009), Mary Robison, 1 DOA, 1 On the Way (winter 2009), Kevin Wilson (MFA, 2004), Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (spring 2009). Kevin has a second book forthcoming, also from Ecco. Other publications are represented in testimonials, we hope.

Listserve, dereliction, non compos mentis, etc.

If you are an alum and did not receive solicitation to be in Newsletter, send a testimonial now and please let us know your email address. Our house listserve is rattily out of date. If perchance you did receive solicitation and sent a testimonial and it is not below, alert us now, accepting apologies for ineptness here at the dizzying top. Last year I (Powell) left five entries out of Newsletter 2008, newly inserted. It – leaving them out – owes to ebrain. May the rest of us prosecute our voyages with all our marbles.


Kevin Canty (MA, 1990), <>

New collection of stories entitled “Where the Money Went” forthcoming in Spring 2009. New house with many ecologically sound features including solar-assisted heating and dual-flush toilets. New dog entitled “Farley,” a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who is so freakishly cute that a local woman recently fell off her bicycle looking at him. My girlfriend is teaching him to dance.

Meg Franklin (MFA, 2007), <>

I live in New York and work at a PR firm. In my time off, I paint portraits and meet up with NYC-based friends from MFA@FLA.

Bessie Gantt (MFA, 2000), <>

I’m working on a novel I'm very excited about. Not sure why no matter what the scene is supposed to be about, it somehow takes a turn where the main character is smothered by piles of laundry only to go unseen by her three sons in super-hero costumes who then jump on the piles like a trampoline while their mother lies helplessly at the bottom of the heap. But really, the triplets were Superman, Optimus Prime (I think that's a Transformer?), and Captain Peacock for Halloween. The other day there was a classified ad: $80 for a pair of peacocks. Around the breakfast table I suggested we get a pair, but then worried out loud, "What if one of the neighborhood dogs ate the peacocks?" To which George aka CaptainPeacock replied, "No, what if one of the peacocks ate the dogs?"


Melissa Garcia (MFA, 2007), <>

I’m currently living in West Palm Beach working at Florida Atlantic University as an Instructor in the English department. I teach four classes a semester, but I’m trying to squeeze in time to write and edit my own work between grading papers; it’s a pretty slow process. Besides that, I’m enjoying living with my boyfriend and being an adult with a real paycheck.

Antonio Garza (MFA, 2006), <>

I live in New Orleans where I’m teaching Spanish to adolescent anglophones. I performed Men in Uniform, my first one-person show, as a part of the New Orleans Fringe Festival this November. I am at home in New Orleans.

David Johansson (MA, 1986), <>

In my nineteenth year teaching lit and film at Brevard Community College, I’ve got just eleven to go before I make parole. By then I’ll have been asleep longer than my students have been alive. In any case, my novel, Skin of Sunset, comes out in the spring. If you’re so inclined, you can watch me pontificate on matters literary at <>. The novel is dedicated to my former teacher, Harry Crews, who used to let me wear his leather jacket.

Stephanie Kartalopoulos (MFA, 2003), <>

I live in a swing-state now. I gave up my Massachusetts-dweller-ship onAugust 1 to move to Columbia, MO, where I am voting (or maybe it is have voted) for Barack Obama and where I began a PhD program in creative writing & literature at University of Missouri-Columbia. I’m writing. I bought my first car ever and just got rear ended by a tattoo artist. I am adjusting to no longer living in a city and no longer living someplace with awesome public transportation. I am enjoying the cheap rent and the fact that every grocery store sells wine and beer (that didn’t happen back in Boston).

Oh, and I have poems forthcoming in Subtropics and Barn Owl Review.

Andrew Kozma (MFA, 2002)

Inspired by all the names I don’t recognize telling me things about what they’re doing that I should be doing myself (i.e., writing... um, yeah, and writing) (oh, and living in Brooklyn), I have some news, though it's not so much news as a summary.

To wit: I’m living in Houston still, having graduated two years ago, and working at a bar called Poison Girl, which is perhaps the coolest thing in my life at the moment (description-wise). I’ve a play slated for performance in the Houston Fringe Festival and poems outcoming in Quiddity, Subtropics, Comstock Review, and some other places. I’ve a novel that’s been rejected from most agents, which is okay as I’ve realized revision is, indeed, all it’s cracked up to be.

I’ve also been lucky enough to do readings for Sarabande (paid in books) and the Clemson Literary Festival (paid in cash), and each time such a reading occurs I’m amazed and humbled by the fact that I’ve been invited somewhere to read in front of someone.

In other news I didn’t know there was such a hive of alumni in NYC. If plans continue as planned, I’ll be up there sometime this year, to stay until thrown free by the whirligig.

David Leavitt <>

The closest I ever came to real celebrity: opening for Jethro Tull inMilan and nearly getting booed off the stage. The Indian Clerk (2007) was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize.

William Logan

My new book of poetry, Strange Flesh, appeared in September fromPenguin. A new book of essays, Our Savage Art, will be published by Columbia in the spring. I’ve had poems recently in New Criterion, New England Review, New York Sun, Salmagundi, 32 Poems, TLS, and Virginia Quarterly Review, and have poems forthcoming in Kenyon Review, New Criterion, New England Review, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Salmagundi, Sewanee Review, Southwest Review, and Yale Review. In criticism, I’ve had cover reviews in the New York Times Book Review on Derek Walcott, Geoffrey Hill, and Frank O’Hara; a long essay in Parnassus on a bad edition of Frost’s journals, a review that caused a minor ruckus; and other pieces in Virginia Quarterly Review, New Criterion, and Poetry. I still write two poetry chronicles a year for the New Criterion. I read last December at the 92nd Street Y, as part of a celebration for Parnassus, and read this fall at University of Cincinnati and the University of the South. I had a residency in the spring at Augustana College and gave a weeklong series of workshops at Miami University in the fall.

Margaret Luongo (MFA, 2001), <>

LSU Press kindly published my story collection, If the Heart is Lean, in September. I went to the Louisiana Book Festival to give a reading and met up with Chris Tusa (MFA, 2000). I did my first-ever reading with Chris at Goerings almost eight years ago now. He has a novel coming out soon, which I am sure he will write about in his testimonial.

Anyone who doesn’t care to read about our old house and its infestations should stop reading now. This year, we had a yellow jacket infestation. (Last year, we had bats.) The location for all the creature activity is always the guest bedroom. I was telling friends of ours, Yes, it’s really weird, every day I go into the guest bedroom and there are all these DEAD BEES on the floor. The man said, Those are yellow jackets. You have a yellow jacket infestation. You should be very worried. He said, if you just stand outside your house and LOOK, you’ll be able to see where they come in. I did, and sure enough, bees flying in and out under the eaves. Last year, we discovered the bats after the cats nailed one – in the guest bedroom. It had flown around and around in crazy bat circles, spattering its blood on the walls. Billy had just finished painting that room for the first time. For the yellow jackets, we called Somebody and Son, and the son came out and shot poison in the walls.

Mark Devish (MFA, 2001) has a similar story. He bought our house in Florida and also had a bee infestation. You shouldn't be afraid to come stay with us if you are ever in Ohio. We’ll let you sleep in our room, and we’ll take the guest bedroom.

Randall Mann (MFA, 1997), <>

My second book of poems, Breakfast with Thom Gunn, was published by the University of Chicago Press in April 2009. I was part of a panel on Thom Gunn at AWP in Chicago, and my essay on our Sidney Wade, “The Lightness of Sidney Wade,” was published in Contemporary Poetry Review. Blah, blah. But mostly I lifted weights, went to old movies with Doug, went to Moki’s with Susan, ate lots of burritos in the Mission, and tried to live each good SF moment as fully as possible.

Annie McFadyen (MFA, 2005) <>

This is me. My news is that I am marrying Sam and have devoted my life to horses and taken up fox hunting.

Arthur McMaster, (MFA, 2004) <>

Well, I’m half to three-quarters bummed out that my book Musical Muse is still not on the UF CRW alumni book page – compelling cover photo and all. Gator knows, I've asked about it often enough! I had a chapbook selected by the University of South Carolina press, for publication in Summer ’09, and I keep sending out other hopeful poems, some with plaintive smiles, some trying to look somehow seductive. Most come come back with long faces. I was delighted to see my poem in Subtropics recently, next to those of my friends Mark McCain and Christine Poreba.

No further drama. Pax vobiscum, y’all.

Shamrock McShane (MA, 1987) <>

After an acting turn as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple at the Eden Dinner Playhouse and then as Richard Roma in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross at the Acrosstown, it's time to premier our new movie You Are Not Frank Sinatra and ship out the DVDs of The Votive Pit, available from B-Side. Next June it’ll be time for Heather to have a baby. If it’s girl, we favor Bonnie Leigh. If it's a boy, we're thinking: Reid Shamrock McShane. <>

Mike Newirth (MFA, 1995), <>

Still teaching, still chasing after inappropriate women, but I guess you’ll have to file me under “where are they now” or “squandered potential.” “Wait’ll next year,” as we say in Chicago.

Padgett Powell

I did my first father-son reading, with Chris Adrian, up at Wheaton last year, under aegis of Ellie Schaffzin, and went to Grinnell under wing of Ralph Savarese. Very fun. If it wunt for students I woont have no luck at all. Paris Review has picked up a piece of the unsalable Interrogative Mood. All else unsalable remains so.

Magdalen Powers (MFA, 2008), <>

I’m getting my webbed feet back in Salem, Ore., where I teach comp and lit and fiction-writing at the local community college and grow things in the yard while inventing excuses for not writing more. I was recently paid to read at a fancy-pants college in Portland, so these days I feel simultaneously more like a real writer and less like one. I miss y’all more than I thought possible. I sometimes see that big yellow house in my sleep, but in dreams the floors are always cleaner and the police never come.

Saara Myrene Raappana (MFA, 2007), <>

I’m dawdling in Gainesville, waiting for my theorist husband to finish his PhD. I fritter my time away by editing magazines for vocational associations, writing poems about frittering time away, and sorting my rejection letters by color, size and degree of kindness. I plan to publish a series of whimsically sardonic limericks in the classifieds section of the Gainesville Sun and, unrelatedly, to visit the 75 MFA@FLA alums who are living in Brooklyn at the end of the year.

Dave Reidy (MFA, 2006), <>

I’m living in Chicago. My debut collection of short stories, entitled Captive Audience, will be published in June 2009.

Megan Shevenock (MFA, 2006), <>

Jennifer Phifer Strange (MFA, 2001), <>

Since last post, I’m still part-time faculty and part-time staff at Centenary College of Louisiana, but the staff part has moved, from the president’s office where I wrote speeches and knotty (but rarely naughty) correspondence, to the college’s Christian Leadership Center where I coordinate continuing education events like documentary film discussions and visiting speakers like Stanley Hauerwas. It’s a dream.

Meanwhile, we bought a new home almost double the square footage of our first one but only live in the same square footage as before and store our stuff in the other rooms. Our first son, Noel, is almost two, and his baby brother/sister is now on the way.

Chris Tusa (MFA, 2000), <>

Right now, I'm working on my second novel, a contemporary southern gothic tale set in New Orleans about a former body builder who’s convinced he’s the second coming of Christ. My debut novel, Dirty Little Angels, is due out from The University of West Alabama in late April.

Adam Vines (MFA, 2006), <>

I am an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where I co-edit Birmingham Poetry Review and serve as faculty adviser for the UAB Fishing Team, which is currently ranked seventh nationally. I’ve published poems recently in North American Review, The Greensboro Review, American Poetry Journal, Isotope, Third Coast, The Cincinnati Review, The Texas Review, South Carolina Review, New Delta Review, and others. In addition, Allen Jih (MFA, 2006) and I have published collaborative critters recently in New Orleans Review, The Baltimore Review, Barrow Street, Confrontation, Margie, Portland Review, Zone 3, Drunken Boat, Chiron Review, and others. This past summer, I was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

Sidney Wade

I have a fine new website – check it out! <> I was elected Secretary/Treasurer of ALTA (American Literary Translators’ Association) this past fall, and at the annual convention, in Minneapolis, some friends and I, including Geoff Brock (MFA 1998), wandered in pilgrimage over to the bridge from which John Berryman jumped to his death. After a moment of reverent silence, we all decided the bridge didn't look high enough to kill oneself off of. Nevertheless, he managed. My newest book, Stroke, was published by Persea Books last January, and I guest-edited the poetry for Two Lines fifteenth anniversary issue this past spring.

Martin Wilson (MFA, 1998), <>

My first novel, What They Always Tell Us (Delacorte), was published in August. It has been nominated by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults of 2008. I’m currently working on my second novel. I still live in New York, where I’m a senior publicist at Grove/Atlantic.

Chad Woody (MFA, 2000), <>

My transmissions have been lost for many moons. In the last year I’ve had poems in HazMat Lit Review (pretty awful), Freshwater (not bad), and a horse-themed anthology called A Cadence of Hooves (pretty good). Chris Tusa will be offended that the horse poem I wrote at UF, which he spazzed out over repeatedly, was NOT accepted. I also had artwork in Moon City Review and White Buffalo Gazette (obscuro), and I won second place in a local short fiction contest, the Well Fed Head Short Fiction Prize. I won fifty bucks, suckas! I have a poem and some art forthcoming in The Forge.

I remain married, with predominantly positive reviews. In my yard I built a pergola with a slate roof and successfully grew several handfuls of berries. I visited Josh Trotter last summer at his office in the Die Hard skyscraper on the FOX lot. Rupert Murdoch was not there, but he commanded that the cafeteria be stocked with forks and spoons made from polymerized CORN STARCH, and holy shit, it was.

After realizing that blogging is for squares, I started a rather undernourished blog you can ignore at <>

C. Dale Young (MFA, 1993)

Poems of mine recently have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. A poem of mine was included in the Best American Poetry 2008, and I have seven poems included in the forthcoming Swallow Anthology of New American Poets. I continue to practice medicine full-time, edit poetry for New England Review, and to teach in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. My big news is Four Way Books has slated, at my request, my next book of poems, Torn, for publication in early 2012.