MFA@FLA Newsletter, Spring 2011

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..

Headnote

Rhoda Janzen’s (MA, 1988) Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (Henry Holt) spent 38 weeks on the NYTimes paperback best-seller list.

Matthew Ladd (MFA, 2006) has won the 2009 Anthony Hecht Prize for The Book of Emblems.

Emily Miller (MFA, 2002), often called E-mile when here, will publish After Augustus in 2012 (Harcourt Houghton Mifflin) as the first in a two-book deal.

Kevin Wilson’s (MFA, 2004) The Family Fang, following on his 2009 story collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, is due out August 2011 from Ecco Press.

This fall Chris Bachelder (MFA, 2002) will join the faculty at University of Cincinnati, where five of our MFAs pursue the PhD (Eric Bliman, Peter Grimes, Heather Hamilton, Bryan Smith, and Suzanne Warren). His third novel, Abbott Awaits, is just out, and will soon be the subject of a long and appreciative essay in The Nation by second-year fiction MFA Aaron Thier. Also in Ohio: Imad Rahman (MFA, 2001) at Cleveland State and Margaret Luongo (MFA, 2001) at Miami University. We own Ohio, or it us.

Undergrad Justin Taylor (went to Hunter College MFA) has just had his second book reviewed in TBR. It is set in scruffy-youth Gainesville, as was undergrad Jeff Parker’s (Syracuse) Ovenman.

Chris Adrian (Iowa) was put into the New Yorker 20 Under 40 pile, and UF has anointed him a CLAS Outstanding Young Alumnus.

Maggie Powers (MFA, 2008) was on Jeopardy.

John Brandon’s (MFA pending) Citrus Country, his second novel, was reviewed front page TBR.

Oindrila Mukherjee (MFA, 2004) will be an assistant professor at Grand Valley State College starting this fall.

Our three-year program is in its third year; the first graduates of it evolve from the tube this spring.

We continue to get considerable extra money, called Alumni Awards, that we are distributing across the classes evenly, making things nicer and nicer. We have also received a big boost for the Festival from the Provost.

Testimonials

Eve Adamson (MFA, 1992), <eve@eveadamson.com>

You come out of an MFA program with a degree in poetry writing, and you don’t really imagine that you will ever spend several years of your life channeling a reality TV star. Even if it gets your name on the New York Times Bestseller list twice, you are likely to feel ambivalent about the job. But then she calls you “her Bernie Taupin” in the media and you can’t help feeling grateful. She pays you a good wage for your efforts, too, which is always nice. She can be demanding, but she’s sharp-witted and clever and you appreciate that she never wastes your time with platitudes or "how are yous" or extraneous information. You’ve developed a good, solid, mutually respectful working relationship by this point, even if you had to write the third book three times. It’s been accepted now, so after a year of stress, you are beginning to think it was all worthwhile. If they would just pay you before the end of the year, you would be truly happy, and maybe you could actually replace the kitchen appliances that are barely working.

You’ve got parts of your life just for you, so that helps, too. You write a blog about food and yoga, even though you swore you’d never write a blog. You’ve got another one about travel, although you haven’t updated it in almost two years, since that trip to Oaxaca. You think about poetry sometimes. It seems like something you might be able to remember how to do, if you just gave it some time. Once in a while, a good poem pops out of you almost as if by force, and sometimes, someone even publishes it. You keep telling yourself you should devote a specific time and brain space to poetry, but something always seems to stand in the way – a magazine article deadline, perhaps, or the realization that you need to spend more time with the man who loves you and makes your life work, or with your teenage boys, who need you now, in a different way than ever before. And when it all gets too much, you find you don’t want to sit down and write poetry. You want to cook something. You do that a lot, these days. At least everyone’s eating well.

It’s not all about your star client. In fact, this year, you wrote three books, all at the same time. People who wish they were famous think that you must be the key to their success, and they will pay you to write their books, too. It’s a living, but it can be stressful, when people pin all their hopes and dreams on what you do at the computer every morning. You think you almost had a heart attack this year – or at least, you fantasized about having one and therefore being exempt from all future responsibility. You know it wouldn’t really work like that, though, so you do a lot of yoga and go to the gym and eat mostly plants, and you keep on writing. Because you really don’t know how to do anything else well enough to support the family. And they are grateful for it – you know you are appreciated, and that’s something pretty big, you think.

Still, you wonder what next year will bring. Will you ever get a chance to write your own book? At this point, you aren’t as sure as you used to be. Which one would you write? Which one would deserve that much time and space? You have a lot of ideas, but no time to really get inside them. Still, they haven’t faded. They live inside you. You can’t help thinking that everything you are doing is training for them. They will come out someday, one at a time. You just have to be patient. And work hard. And keep learning. Some part of you knows, even on the bad days, that it will all work out in the end.

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

This is my fifth year teaching at UMass, and I’m already beginning to see a number of books by my former students. These students are advised to call Padgett their granddaddy. My novel Abbot Awaits, which, according to a major NY editor, “just doesn’t have enough oomph,” will be published in March by LSU.

Claire Barwise (MFA, 2009), <claire.barwise@gmail.com>

I’m living in Brooklyn in a big house with four other writer/artists, sort of like Shrimpfest but with more estrogen and fewer trumpets. I teach creative writing in Harlem, and tutor the children of the rich. I have work published in Swink and The Minnesota Review. I’m still working on a novel. I have recently inherited a vibrating chair.

John Elderkin’s (MFA, 2002) and Sam Esquith’s (MFA, 2005) band The Public Good released a second CD this year. Two songs, Sam’s “This Rising Tide” and John’s “My Pre-Existing Conditions,” received heavy airplay on independent and college radio stations. Sam now travels with bodyguards. John remains unnoticed in public. (By the way, the band will be performing in DC during the upcoming AWP conference in Feb.)

Mary Beth Ferda (MFA, 2009)

I got my ears pierced and consented to Daniel’s adoption of a three-legged, allergy-mobbed cat. Poems were printed in 32 Poems, Harpur Palate, The Pinch, and Natural Bridge. We still live in downtown Gainesville and have a futon available to polite guests. Or MFAs. Whichever.

K. P. Giordano (MFA, 2009), <giordanokp@earthlink.net>

I’m west of Blue Mountain, in the Allegeny Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, in West Virginia, teaching at a small college, in a town that has only one traffic light, the only traffic light in the whole county. I live on Main Street. I write at midnight and midday. I have nothing to show for it except pencil shavings. I hunt deer in my spare time. I have been to Pittsburgh and Parkersburgh, walked along the Kanawha River in Charleston, stood along the Ohio River, passed 18-wheelers with lumber going 80 miles an hour in three inches of snow. I wear long johns. Some day I’ll be out of here. But for now, my plan is to continue producing pencil shavings, and to forge west, making my way into Ohio, Kentucky coal mine country, north to Cleveland and Detroit, to the Great Lakes and finally offical West, where I’ll lay my burden down. Greetings from Albuquerque.

Michael Hofmann

I am presently writing an introduction to a book of Joseph Roth’s letters I translated last year (it’ll be my tenth book of Roth’s when it appears late in 2011). I have a review to write of the great Australian poet Les Murray for Poetry (Chicago), which also has a batch of my Gottfried Benn versions ready to go; they too will make a book, with FSG – “Impromptus” I’m thinking of calling it – mostly poems with a handful of essays, maybe not till 2012. Penguin UK is celebrating an anniversary with a series of fifty “Penguin Mini Moderns”: I have two translated titles included, Kafka’s “Penal Colony” and a new Hans Fallada, “Short Treatise on the Joys of Morphinism.” A long Fallada novel from 1930 – present title “A Small Circus (called Monte)” – is done, and will probably come out in 2011. That’s about all I can think of. Other things are down the road. Oh yes. I bought a hefty pair of walking/climbing boots I hope to get to use.

Noy Holland (MFA, 1993)

I’m still teaching at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Had a fine long sabbatical out of the country. I published stories recently in Indiana Review, Fairy Tale Review, and New York Tyrant, and a correspondence interview with Stanley Crawford in the Believer. I have a short essay coming out in Post Road’s anthology No Near Exit.

Andrew Kozma (MFA, 2002)

This past year I’ve had poems in 32 Poems, Weave, The Chariton Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. I had my first stories (flash-in-the-pans) in NANO Fiction and DIAGRAM and an essay chronicling the history of my love life accepted by Grist: The Journal for Writers. I put on two plays in Houston (the audience never caught on they were being put upon) and won the D.H. Lawrence Fellowship to attend the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, which I then attended. Lastly, I’m still working at the Poison Girl bar, a fact which cuts down considerably on my alcohol expenses.

Matthew Ladd (MFA, 2006), <mattrladd@gmail.com>

My first poetry collection, The Book of Emblems, won the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and was published by the Waywiser Press late in 2010. Reviews welcome. Aside from that, new poems in Yale Review. New reviews in Bookforum and a five-book roundup in West Branch. Poetry readings at the New York Public Library for the CLMP “Periodically Speaking” Series and, more recently, at the Folger Shakespeare Library with Rosanna Warren. I’ve been living in Brooklyn for the past two and a half years. I’m also in my first year of law school at NYU, which is nice.

David Leavitt

I spent much of the last year working on several novels set in Lisbon in the forties, none of which I finished. I am now working on another novel set in Lisbon in the forties. By way of research for these novels set in Lisbon in the forties – and also to write an article for Travel + Leisure – I went to Lisbon at the end of October.

The only things I managed to publish this year were some reviews for The New York Times Book Review, most notably of a new biography of Somerset Maugham.

Also in the works: a story on the theme of cryptography to be read aloud by an as yet unspecified actor on NPR’s “Studio 360” – part of a series on creativity and science.

Tolo turned thirteen in August. May we all age with such dignity.

William Logan

Deception Island: Selected Early Poems, 1974-1998, will be published by Salt in the UK this spring, followed in a year or so by Madame X from Penguin [US]. My edition of John Townsend Trowbridge’s long comic poem Guy Vernon will be published by University of Minnesota Press next fall. I’m also working on a book of Donald Justice’s collected criticism. In recent months, I’ve published poems in Birmingham Poetry Review, Hudson Review, The New Yorker, New Criterion, Poetry, Smartish Pace, TLS, and 32 Poems. I had a review of Seamus Heaney in the New York Times Book Review and an essay on Donald Justice’s criticism in the New Criterion, as well as the usual spring and fall verse chronicles in the latter. In September, I gave a keynote address on Lowell and Heaney at the British and Irish Contemporary Poetry Conference at Queen’s University in Belfast. Next spring I’ll be the Kidd Lecturer at the University of Oregon, and next summer I’ll again be on the faculty at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

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

My last collection of poems, Breakfast with Thom Gunn, was a finalist for the California Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award. For the book, I was named one of the 2010 San Francisco Public Library Laureates. I have new poems in 32 Poems, The Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Literary Imagination, Pleiades, and Subtropics. An excerpt of my poem “The Fall of 1992” appears in Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry by David Orr.

Shamrock McShane will be Prospero in The Tempest on stage and screen this spring. Acting credits include plum parts in works by Mamet, Shakespeare, and Neil Simon. Movies: The Votive Pit, You Are Not Frank Sinatra, It’s All Good, and (soon to be released) Dove World War.

Martha Otis (MFA, 2000), <motis@miami.edu>

I have been teaching Composition and Creative Writing at the University of Miami since 2002. My composition courses have focused on nature and science writing, both of which I enjoy very much, because these things bring out much better writing in my students. My fiction has garnered a couple nice prizes, winning me trips to Mexico and Key West: The University of New Orleans Study Abroad fiction prize, and the Key West Literary Seminars Joyce Horton Johnson award. I’m working on two books, and continue my tango addiction, though at present my knee is recovering from a nasty injury. One of the most amazing experiences Miami has given me has been the opportunity to work with a not-for-profit organization (The Shimmy Club) that teaches tango to blind and visually impaired youth. My daughter Serena has taken a break from an all-ballet artistic diet; she is now thirteen and attending an arts charter school in drama and vocal performance. She reads everything, all the time, everywhere. Go figure.

Padgett Powell

Received some nice attention for The Interrogative Mood, to include a veritable Hendrixing in England. Three books coming out over there next year. Have been called ***hole by Robert Crumb, in the inimitable hand, for proposing his assassination in print. This is the zenith of literary career, or life, whichever is greater.

Marjorie Sandor (fiction faculty 1988-1994) will publish her fourth book, The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction (essays), in May 2011, with Arcade Publishing, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing.

Ralph Savarese (MFA,1994), <savarese@grinnell.edu>

In 2007, I published Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption, which Newsweek called a “real life love story and a passionate manifesto for the rights of people with neurological disabilities.” I appeared twice with my son on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and on a host of other radio and TV programs. Since then I’ve co-edited a special issue of Disability Studies Quarterly entitled “Autism and the Concept of Neurodiversity,” a special issue of Seneca Review entitled “The Lyrical Body,” and an anthology from Rutgers University Press entitled Papa, PhD: Essays on Fatherhood by Men in the Academy. Recent poems, essays, and translations have appeared in Southwest Review, Rattle, Stone Canoe, Fourth Genre, Modern Poetry in Translation, the Houston Chronicle, the LA Times, and the Atlanta Journal
Constitution
. I’m presently working on a book of essays, a novel, and a scholarly monograph.

Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut (MFA, 2002), <schildkr@usc.edu>

My poetry collection, Magnetic Refrain, is forthcoming in fall 2011 from Kaya Press, the leading independent publisher of Asian American literature. I’ll be graduating with a Ph.D. In Literature & Creative Writing from University of Southern California in May 2011.

Diana Smith (MFA, 2009), <dianarsmith@gmail.com>

I am a full-time professor at Southwest Texas Junior College in Del Rio, TX, teaching creative writing, composition, and literature. Apparently, this is where you end up when you fall in love with a fellow Gator who becomes a border patrol agent. I co-chair the Creative Arts Club, a campus student organization, which puts on a music festival and several other events each year. Two poems appeared in anderbo and 32 Poems in fall 2010.

Eric Smith (MFA, 2009), <ericsmith23@gmail.com>

Published poems this year in Five Points and Best New Poets 2010. We’re going strong over at Cellpoems, and received an Innovations in Reading grant from the National Book foundation. I’m still teaching and writing in West Virginia, at Marshall.

Jason W. Stuart (MFA, 2009), <jasonwstuart@gmail.com; editor@burntbridge.net>

Jason Stuart is the Director of Academics and Instructor of English & Humanities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at Biloxi, New Orleans & Mobile Campuses. Recent publications include Underground Voices, The Bare Root Review, The Live Oak Review, and others. He is founding editor of the monthly online & quarterly print journal Burnt Bridge. He is currently happy on the beach, but is eagerly next awaiting football season.

Alexandra Teague (MFA, 1998)

My first book of poetry, Mortal Geography, won the Lexi Rudnitsky Prize, and was published by Persea Books in Spring 2010. I spent the Fall as a visiting professor of poetry at the University of Arkansas (covering for fellow UF alum Geoff Brock). In October, I returned to Gainesville for the first time in a decade to give a reading and see some old friends and haunts. I’ve just been awarded an NEA fellowship, so I’m going to stay in Fayetteville, AR, a little longer, hiding out from my Bay Area teaching life and doing some writing.

Troy Teegarden (MFA, 2006), <troy_teegarden@hotmail.com>

I’ve become one of those pencil pushers Ronnie Van Zant sang about. It’s an unfortunate development but pays the bills and finances the minimum payment due on my bar tab at the Elks lodge where I serve the youth of today every December as Santa Claus. My lap has yet to be pissed upon. I miss Barry Hannah.

Adam Vines (MFA, 2006)

I still live in Birmingham, Alabama, where I am an assistant professor of English and editor of Birmingham Poetry Review. During the summers, I am on staff at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. I published my poems in various journals this past year and delivered a lecture on conformity and resistance in contemporary sonnets at the University of West Georgia.. When the leaves start falling from the red oak in my front yard, my neck starts to swell and I smell Allen Jih’s (MFA, 2006) Las Vegas estrus in the wind. At full rut, we lock-up, and in spring we birth our collaborative critters, which journals seem to value, though I have no idea why. My daughter Mary just turned three years old, and in my spare time, you can find me guffawing with her at Princesses on Ice or The Frog Prince or teaching her to light on bushes and to look for predators as we run around sporting fairy wings. Yes, I have transformed from inbred slough-spawn to sappy-ass daddy. Melissa Dameron-Vines still sleeps in the same bed with me. A couple times a year, Col. Powell and I stay at Inez’s Pudding Pad on the Steinhatchee River and cast disco lures at fish. I continue to wait for the Dickman twins to show up at my door with a trophy, poet-guy with snap-brim cap and houndstooth panties humping a deathbed Leaves of Grass perched on top.

C. Dale Young (MFA, 1993)

Poems of mine recently have appeared or are forthcoming in The Collagist, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. I published my first short story in Guernica in April of 2010. I continue to practice medicine full-time and to teach in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. As of this printing, this is the final year of New England Review unless funding issues are resolved before the end of 2011. If the magazine closes up shop, I will have edited poetry for the magazine for 16 years, something almost unfathomable to me. My third book of poems, Torn, has been moved up in the publishing schedule and will now be out in Spring of 2011. My big non-writing news is that my partner Jacob and I finally bought a house in San Francisco.

toptop