Here's fiction mentor Valerie Miner on her latest novel now in progress. She's also written a ton of book reviews in the past year--better just go look at the department's Facebook page.
Fiction and nonfiction mentor Rich Chiappone has a forthcoming book of essays from Skyhorse Press.
Poetry mentor Zack Rogow has published a new chapbook, Voices Carved from Obsidian, available from Deconstructed Artichoke Press in a limited edition of 75 signed copies. The book features four poems that pay tribute to Zack's favorite singers: Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Curtis Mayfield.
The booklets are beautifully designed and individually crafted with fine paper and a hand-silkscreened cover created using a Japanese printing process, Gocco, which was developed in Japan.
To order, please send a check made out to Zack Rogow for $8 (includes postage and handling). The address is: Zack Rogow, 309 Prentiss Street, San Francisco CA 94110.
Highway One, Antarctica, the debut collection of short stories by fiction graduate Justin Herrmann, will be published by MadHat Press this spring. You can enjoy previews at Lemon Houndand The Fourth River, where his story "Polar Plunge" was the featured story recently. Justin will be signing books at AWP on Friday from 11 to 12 at the Cirque table in the book fair.
The multi-talented Michael Dinkel is on a roll. One of his essays will appear in a forthcoming issue of The Gettsyburg Review, which among the best of the literary journals. And photographs from his salmon series will also accompany a forthcoming essay by nonfiction mentor Eva Saulitis in Orion magazine. Speaking of Orion, the January/February 2014 issue inclues a feature, "Walking on Mars," by nonfiction mentor Craig Childs.
Letters from Chamonix by director David Stevenson is being printed right this minute by publisher Imaginary Mountain Surveyors. The collection of short stories (and a novella!) will launch in Canmore, Alberta, on March 20 at In Vino Novellas, an event that brilliantly combines drinking wine and listening to writers read their work. Kind of like our open mics, but with classier beverages.
Eva Saulitis received a prestigious Governor's Award for the Humanities in January in a ceremony that was aired on the public affairs channel 360 North. Because Eva was in Hawaii at the time, nonfiction graduate Tim Lash accepted the award on her behalf at the Juneau event.
Our long national nightmare is over. Sherry Simpson's book Dominion of Bears, a work that was decades in the making, was published (finally) in October by the University Press of Kansas. She plans to write haiku from now on.
Nonfiction writer Amy O'Neill Houck, a 2013 CWLA graduate, is October's guest blogger at 49 Writers. You can start with her latest entry on sentences.
Fiction graduate Don Rearden hit the big-time when he took a chance and sent the recently published American edition of his novel The Raven's Gift to Washington Post book reviewer Michael Dirda. Dirda's review concludes with this praise: "Any number of writers could have produced a fine literary novel about a young couple discovering Yup’ik culture. But only an exceptional writer could write that fine literary novel and then relegate it to backstory, using its fragments to heighten the eeriness and drama of what is an intense thriller. And yet “The Raven’s Gift” also remains a love story -- in fact, two love stories. What more could you ask?" Yes, Don, what more could you ask?
Nonfiction student Mary Kudenov's essay "A Man of Fashion" is out in Alaska Quarterly Review's fall/winter issue. Mary read an excerpt at the journal's First Friday event in October.
Poetry mentor Zack Rogow has a new chapbook. Voices Carved from Obsidian is available from Deconstructed Artichoke Press in a limited edition of 75 signed copies that are hand-crafted with a silk-screened cover. The chapbook's four poems pay tribute to four of Zack's favorite singers: Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Curtis Mayfield. You can order a book (or two!) by sending a check for $8 ($9 for outside the U.S.) made out to Zack at his address: 309 Prentiss Street, San Francisco CA 94110. Don't forget to check out Zack's blog, Advice for Writers.
Former program coordinator Kathy Tarr has an essay about
"her personal experience at the crossroads between Alaska, Russia, Boris Pasternak, and Thomas Merton" in the latest issue of The Sewanee Review. She was also named one of six “Mullin Scholars” (from an applicant pool of 120) at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies. During the two-year program, the scholars will meet with their mentors, writers and scholars. Congratulations, Kathy!
Then: A Thesis. Now: A Book!
CWLA graduate Sara Loewen, a nonfiction student who was part of the first class in our low-residency program, read from her new book at an Alaska Literary Series event sponsored by the department on April 9. Sara's book, hhas been praised by reviewers at Booklist, Terrain.org, and Publisher's Weekly, which noted in a starred review, "Loewen's essays are exquisite slices of life . . . this solemn, spare book is an intimate and loving look at a life that very few people live." It's a terrific book: Buy it!
Grads Make Good
Fiction grad Martha Amore won the 2013 Nicole Blizzard Short Story Contest from Radical Arts for Women for her story, "Geology," which is published on RAW's site. According to the organization, "One judge described the piece as 'beautiful writing, interesting story.' Another judge wrote 'this story was an absolute and utter joy to read.' "
In this thoughtful conversation with writer Holly Hughes on Terrain.org, mentor Nancy Lord talks about hope, climate change, story endings, world endings, ocean acidification, giving back, time, writing, Early Warming, and more hope.
Craig Childs Makes Us Thirsty
Not that kind of thirsty. In a recently aired commentary on NPR, "The True Weight of Water," he meditates on the dry landscape that surrounds the Colorado River--the Colorado ex-River, that is. You can hear or read his insights here if you missed them on Morning Edition because, well, it comes on in the morning.
Valerie Miner Tells All
Well, probably not all. But some. Quite a lot, actually. Fiction writers Hunter Whitworth, Dan
Mickelsen, and Jonna Laster interviewed her about teaching, writing, reading, and more for this profile. We'll assume it's nonfiction. (You can read it, print it, or download it.)
CWLA Folks Take Over 49 Writers
There are too many of our mentors, students, and graduates participating in events, teaching classes, or writing posts for 49 Writers to recognize them individually. You should just cruise on over to the 49 Writers blog site to see what Sara Loewen, Don Rearden, Cinthia Ritchie, Kathy Tarr, Christine Byl, Jo-Ann Mapson, Andromeda Romano-Lax, Sherry Simpson, Linda Ketchum, Sandy Kleven, Rich Chiappone, and others have been doing. Block out some time--you'll need it.
Director Dr. Stevenson Wins Fiction Prize
David Stevenson has been named the first winner of the inaugural Rick Bass/Montana Prize for Fiction Award by the Whitefish Review. Rick Bass was the judge and is the guest editor for the Winter 2012/2013 issue, in which David's story, "The Bear Outside the Door," will appear. His piece was among, and we quote, "hundreds of submissions." Along with publication comes a $1,000 prize, which means he will have no excuses for not buying each of us the adult beverage of our choice next summer.
Nonfiction Writers Appear in AQR
Technically speaking, Mary Kudenov won't be appearing in AQR, but her essay "A Man of Fashion" will be. Until then, you can read mentor Eva Saulitis's piece "Thirteen Attempts" in their current issue.
And who isn't? She's been incredibly productive this year. Her essay "Nipple Unremarkable" will be published in the spring issue of Ecotone. Another essay, "Non-Existent Black and White Photograph" is forthcoming in Catamaran literary journal in January. And "A Short History of My Breast Cancer in Bombshells" appeared on the website "The Better Bombshell" with illustrations. Did we mention that her book of poems Many Ways to Say Itis out? It was the Rumpus Book Club pick for October, and the poem "The Clearing" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You'll want to read it before her forthcoming memoir
Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas is published in January by Beacon Press.
Speaking of Bombshells. . . .
Poet Wendy Scher's poem "Mucilage" appears on "The Better Bombshell" as do two guest posts from fiction writer Hunter Whitworth. Oh, look, there's Carolyn Turgeon, Craig Childs, Andromeda Romano-Lax . . . OK, fine. It's a book project from former nonfiction student Charlotte Austin. Why do you people not tell us this stuff? Why must you force your overburdened Web Diva to dig this news up? Why? Please be more considerate and volunteer your news. Thank you.
Fiction Grad Named Finalist in Big Contest
Pamela Kearney's novel, The Sunflower Wife, was a runner-up in The AWP Award Series for the Novel, judged by novelist Kathryn Davis. At least 10,000 writers submitted manuscripts, so this was a terrific accomplishment and a good sign that her book will find a home with a publisher soon.
CWLA Outsources Bloggers
A few of our own have been guest bloggers for the estimable 49 Writers in the past year. Kathy Tarr, our former program coordinator, will be posting her contributions every Friday in September. Amy O'Neill Houck wrote about the MFA program and writing processes and products in July. And grad Vivian Prescott started the year musing about writer's superstitions, dunce chairs, and more.
UAA Alumnus Named As Visiting Poet
Liz Bradfield has been pointed as the Jacob Ziskind Visiting Poet-in-Residence for 2012-2014 at Brandeis University. This is the latest in a string of successes for Liz. Her most recent book, Approaching Ice (2010 Persea Books), was reviewed in American Scientist's May/June 2012 issue. The book was also named as a finalist for the James Laughlin Award. Liz will be teaching in June at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and in August at the Castle Hill Center for the Arts in Truro. She also has poems in two new eAnthologies, Fire on Her Tongue by Two Sylvias Press and The Rumpus Original Poetry Anthology. Liz had the distinction of being the first poet featured in The Rumpus's poem-a-day project for National Poetry Month.
Good Works From Good Writers
Several CWLA alums and current students helped raise tons of money for the 49 Writers Write-a-Thon in April. Sandi Kleven, Don Rearden, and 49 Writers executive director Linda Ketchum were among the top money-finders. Other CWLA do-gooders included Morgan Grey, Karen Benning, Eric Larson, and Teresa Sundmark. Good on you all.
What No. 1 on Amazon Looks Like
Fiction mentor Jo-Ann Mapson's last book was offered on Kindle for the all-too-reasonable price of $1.99. You see the results here.
McCarriston Essay Finds Another Home
The interview that Kathy Tarr did with poetry mentor Linda McCarriston for Triquarterly online has been featured on Poetry Daily as its Prose Feature. Also, Professor McCarriston participated recently on a panel at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. The panel, "Power to the Poet: Poetry's Power to Praise, Dispraise, and Provoke," was organized by poet Jean Monaghan and included poets Kim Vaeth and Danielle Georges. Professor McCarriston reports that Monaghan had heard her speak on the subject at a previous function and approached her to plan the event.
Heather Lende Achieves Critical Success
This isn't what she learned.
From the land of 360 inches of snow, Heather reports that a version of her thesis essay, "What I Learned About Writing and Life from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings" will be published in The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Journal of Florida Literature this spring. Best part is, she'll present her paper at the 25th Annual MKR Conference in Ocala, Fla., on April 13-14, where she'll get to meet people who knew Rawlings, a Pulitzer-Prize winner. Our advice? Focus your thesis essay on writers who live in nice places. Heather gives credit to her third-year mentor, Valerie Miner, for nudging her to publish.
Poet Publishes New Book, Gives Interview
The insanely productive mentor Zack Rogow recently published his seventh book of poems, My Mother and the Ceiling Dancers, through Kattywampus Press. If you're interested in buying a copy, you can email him, and if you don't have his email address, email us. He also discussed the poet June Jordan in an interview on Wanda's Picks, a blog talk show. His part, in which he discusses Jordan's influence on him and other writers, starts about 67 minutes into the interview.
CWLA Conquers AWP
The value of an MFA, as demonstrated
by Linda, Megan, and Sara.
OK, there were more than 10,000 people at AWP in Chicago, so it's possible we missed a few of our folks, but basically anybody who was somebody came to the department's reception, and it was cool. There are more incriminating photographs on the department's Facebook page. We'll soon report on the recent fates of our illustrious grads, all of whom are doing literary and pedagogical good works out in the world. Next year's AWP: Boston. Start saving now. Oh, if you want to know about some of the nonfiction panels, Brevity's blog has posted several reports. Fiction and poetry people, you're on your own.
Nonfiction Mentor Writes for Huffington Post
Ernestine Hayes recently published a piece on Huff Post about "Indigenous Language and AI/AN Student Success." She notes that out of the more than 2,000 indigenous languages identified as "critically endangered," about 20 are spoken in Alaska. The loss of language, which convey cultural history, spiritual values, and knowledge among other things, also contributes to drop-out rates among Alaska Natives and American Indians, she writes.
Friend me. No, don't.
Fiction mentor Josip Novakovich recently published an essay, "Friendship Addiction" on The Rumpus, in which he observes the pros and cons of having friends while being a writer: "It seems to me that without so many friendships, I would have written more, and I’d be healthier, but then, maybe not. Who would I be trying to impress now, if not my friends, or at some level, surrogates of friends, colleagues?" Exactly.
More Flashing By CWLA Grads
We overlooked another graduate who appeared in Sudden Flash Youth along with Sam Davis (see below). Christine Byl also published a short short, "Hey Jess McCafferty" in the anthology. She reports that she's been using the book to teach kids as the Writer-In-Residence in Union County, Ore., through the Oregon Writing Program and Fishtrap. Still more exciting, Chris's nonfiction book, Dirt Work: An Education on the Ground, is forthcomingfromBeacon Press later this year. Her first work on the book began during an independent study class while she was a fiction student at CWLA. The title refers to her long experience as a trail builder, not to MFA gossip.
Samantha Davis Flashes Us
A short short, "Disorder," by fiction student Sam Davis recently appeared in the anthology Sudden Flash Youth alongside some distinguished company--among them, Stuart Dybeck, Alice Walker, Dave Eggers, and Ron Carlson. Actually, we should say some old writers appeared with CWLA's youthful talent, the writer Sam Davis. A Flash Fiction reviewer says all the familiar icons, items, and episodes of childhood are included, "but it’s rendered anew, so that the stories evoke both the wonder of the strange and the ache of recollection." He strongly recommends it, and so do we.
Nonfiction Graduate Wins Essay Prize
Tina Post, who earned her MFA in creative nonfiction a few years ago, recently won the S. I. Newhouse School Prize for Nonfiction. Her essay “Fight and Flight: The Near Room” was published in Issue 6 of Stone Canoe, a literary journal from Syracuse University, and she was awarded $500. The award is given to writers who have a strong connection with upstate New York. Tina lives in Auburn, N.Y., with Mark Temelko, a CWLA poetry grad, and their two children. Tina also will be a featured artist at the Colgate University's Young Writers' Workshop in August. Congrats, Tina!
Fiction Mentor Rarely Home
Valerie Miner wrote to fill us in on her recent doings and upcoming events. First, her newest novel, Traveling with Spirits, will be published by Livingston Press in 2013. "The Whole Story" appears in the current issue of Southwest Review. She also published book reviews here and here. In December she gave a workshop and reading in Santiago, Chile. She's off to Istanbul this spring to present a week of lectures and readings and then will enjoy a writing residency at Hawthornden Castle. She'll be one of the visiting faculty at the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference in Homer in June, and in September she'll be writing at Hedgebrook, a writers' colony in the San Juan Islands. You can congratulate her in July when she's at UAA for the residency.
Interview With a Poet
Former program coordinator Kathy Tarr interviewed poetry mentor Linda McCarriston at length for TriQuarterly Online. The wide-ranging discussion covers the McPoem, a definition of poetics, self-censorship, the downfalls of an MFA, and the value to students of reading the entire body of work by a poet they admire.
Latest Cirque Features CWLA Writers
The winter issue of Cirque includes an essay by Kristine Rawert McRae and poems by John McKay, Vivian FaithPrescott, Emily Kurn, Pamela Kearney, and Teresa Sundmark. Go, team! You can read the journal online or buy a copy, either as a print or a PDF version.
MFA Student Hired to Run Writing Center, Rule World
Linda Ketchum, who just earned her MFA in creative nonfiction, was named the executive director of 49 Alaska Writing Center. This was, of course, an inspired choice by the board, and we applaud their good sense. Linda has tons of experience in developing, planning, and running organizations, not to mention the fact that she's a lovely person. You can read her comments on 49 Writers blog about her new role here. We're thrilled for her.
Fiction Mentor Publishes Her First Book of 2012; No Mermaids Involved
Carolyn Turgeon's book The Next Full Moon will be published by Downtown Books on Feb. 7. It is aimed at readers from 9 to 12, meaning we will all like it, too. This novel tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who suddenly begins growing feathers on her back, shoulders and arms, which, as you can imagine, causes some real self-esteem issues. Spoiler: Her mom is a Swan Maiden. You can pre-order this book by pretending it's for a niece (or nephew!).
Faculty Mentor Adds One More Cool Thing to His Resume
Poet and translator Zack Rogow continues shaming the rest of us with his relentless productivity thanks to his recent move to dominate the internet with his new blog "Advice for Writers." It's free advice! From Zack! You'd be a fool to miss it. Zack's message to us advises: "Please tell your friends, your students, your tax preparer, your masseur, etc." Yes, please do.
MFA Thesis Magically Turns Into a Book
Congratulations to Sara Loewen, whose collection of essays will be published by the University of Alaska Press as part of its literary series. Her manuscript was selected after a review by the press's board members. More details to come!
K. Tarr Has Left the Building
Was it something we said? Something we did? Could there be some other explanation for why Program Coordinator Kathy Tarr has left Alaska in winter to move to Florida? Or is the answer mysteriously embedded in the concept of "Florida"? In any case, Kathy and her husband, Michael, may have moved to this mythical place where the sun shines all year and allegedly it never snows, but she says she'll be back to visit her beloved Alaska in the summers. In the meantime, she's doing what the rest of are: writing. If you'd like to drop her a note, she plans to keep her UAA email address for a while. Things won't be the same without her, but we wish her the very best and thank her for helping to build the program.
"Thanksgiving" on Thanksgiving
No, your ears did not deceive you if you happened to hear "The Writer's Almanac" by Garrison Keillor on Nov. 24. The NPR daily program featured poetry professor Linda McCarriston's lovely poem "Thanksgiving," which you can read, download, or hear at the site.
He's Not Just A Director, You Know
Dr. David Stevenson has a not-so-secret life as a writer and scholar, as he proved most recently at the 2011 Western Literature Association meeting in Missoula in October by reading the essay "Lives of the Volcano Poets." Some of us were lucky enough to hear his piece during the 2011 Northern Renaissance Arts and Science Series. His essay "The Tower and the Riddle" is forthcoming in Alpinist #37 in January.
The Quiet Life of a Novelist
Fiction mentors Jo-Ann Mapson and Carolyn Turgeon were recently featured on a panel at the Omaha Lit Fest with writer Timothy Schaffert. That town probably still doesn't know what hit them. She was featured at the Solano Country, Calif., library fundraiser in early November, and she's part of the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference in Santa Fe from Nov. 11-12, where she's giving a talk on "Why the Novel Will Never Die," and advice on "Building Tension." Her last novel, Solomon's Oak, now out in paperback from Bloomsbury, is an Indie Next Pick for November. She's also this month's guest blogger for 49 Writers, where she shares some of her thoughts on Tony Hillerman and the death of the novel. Oh, yes, we forgot to mention she's finishing her novel Finding Casey, which will be published by Bloomsbury in October 2012. But other than that, things are a little slow at Casa del Mapson.
In Other Slacker News . . .
International diva Carolyn Turgeon announced on her Facebook page that she just sold her next book to S&S Touchstone. Carolyn will again expose the tawdry underworld of fairy tales by telling the story of how Rapunzel grows up to be Snow White's stepmom. If you didn't know this, then you are not one of Carolyn's 10 million Facebook friends, meaning you are nobody.
Art Meets Science and Magic Happens
Nonfiction mentor and poet Eva Saulitis recently joined Homer poets Eric Hollowell, Jo Going and Linda Martin for a reading celebrating an archaeological project on the Kenai Peninsula.
Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Poem! It's Prose! It's a Prose Poem!
Nonfiction mentor Sherry Simpson is not at all humble about having published what she thought was a short nonfiction piece but they're calling a prose poem at the Bellingham Review's first online issue. Whatever. It's kind of like a dog singing opera. It's not that the singing is great, it's that the dog is singing at all.
Practicum Project Exhibited in Kenai
During the residency some of us were lucky enough to buy copies of Michael Dinkel's pinhole landscape photographs, which were accompanied by shorts written in response to the images by some of our grad students. Michael's work was featured recently at an exhibit at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center. Michael informs us that he will have a web version of his project available soon. We'll post the link.
MFA Grad Publishes e-Book
Lauren Sweet, who earned her degree in fiction in 2008, tells us her book, Aladdin's Samovar, is now available for Kindle here and will soon be available for Nook and other e-readers. (If you don't have a Kindle, you can download Amazon's free software to read on your computer and other devices.) She describes it as a "comedy action/thriller about a woman who who finds a genie in an antique brass samovar and makes a wish to find her long-lost father, only to find he’s on the run from the Mob." Let's just assume this isn't a thinly disguised autobiography. Congrats, Lauren!
Another UAA Student Makes Good
David Abrams, a fiction writer who started in the University of Alaska Fairbanks's MFA program and finished his last few credits at UAA, recently learned that his novel, Fobbit, will be published by Grove/Atlantic. David, who has long served with the Army, was deployed to Iraq in 2005 to work in the Public Affairs Office. In an interview he described the book this way:
"Elevator Pitch #1: Two groups of soldiers muddle through the Iraq War: infantry “door-kickers” on patrol and cubicle-worker “Fobbits"--those who never leave the security of the Forward Operating Base.
"Elevator Pitch #2 (if we were going up another couple of floors): It’s the love child of Catch-22 and The Office."
David started his thesis with UAF fiction professor Franks Soos and defended it under Prof. Jo-Ann Mapson. His blog, "The Quivering Pen," regularly reviews literary fiction.
Vivian Prescott adds a new genre and name
Keeper of Directions, a middle-grade school fantasy novel by recent poetry grad Vivian Faith Prescott, will be published as an e-book by Musa Publishing's Euterpe imprint in December. Don't look for Vivian's name, though; her pen name for this book is L.K. Mitchell. Mitchell has her own website. The Wordle here depicts the book's first chapter.
Student Publication News
Megan Nix has published an excerpt titled "Uncles" from her thesis, Spent Revel, in the Fall 2011 issue of The Iowa Review. Her essay was a finalist in their 2010 nonfiction contest. Another excerpt, "Monsoon," appeared in Shadowbox's first issue, as well as an interview with 2009 guest faculty members Frank Soos and Margo Klass.
Some of us were lucky enough to hear a staged reading of Zack Rogow's play about the Turkish writer Nazim Hikmet last year. Another staged reading will be held at AWP 2012 in Chicago, performed by Chicago's Caffeine Theater and introduced by poet Cornelius Eady.
Zack has also published an essay, "Lorca's Local Modernism," about Federico Garcia Lorca in PoetryFlash (scroll down). Zack discusses international modernism by investigating a literary puzzle: "So many artists of FedericoGarcia Lorca's time moved to Paris that I have to ask: why didn't Lorca also go to France?" Read it here by scrolling down a bit.
Who Is Ed Allen? (We're Glad You Asked)
That's how you'd phrase the category "Interesting Writers Who Teach at UAA" if this were a Jeopardy game. Speaking of which, haven't you always wanted to know which question knocked the ultra-intelligent Ed out of his three-day victory run on Jeopardy? That tidbit and other fascinating details are included in a profile written of the self-described "crazy bastard" by third-year fiction students Samantha Davis, Carrie
Enge, Erin Hanson, and Allison Williams. This was an assignment dreamed up by mentor/torturer Jo-Ann Mapson. And now we all reap the benefits. Ed Allen, this is your life!
Alumna Vivian Prescott has designed a series of T-shirts, a mousepad, and a travel mug with a logo just for us. You can order them here, including a shirt without a date. All profits from these items will be donated to the Jason Wenger Writing Award. Order your T-shirt now so you can be the object of envy and desire at the residency (not that you aren't already, of course). Thanks, Vivian!