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Creative Writing Program

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Thesis Defenses May 11-15, 2015

Congratulations to our graduating MFAs, who will be soon be defending their theses! Schedule below (all in Lind Hall 207A):


9:00 am: Hunter Sharpless (Ray Gonzalez and Patricia Hampl)

12:00 pm: Carl Peaslee (Julie Schumacher and Charles Baxter)

2:30 pm: Jason Zencka (Julie Schumacher and Charles Baxter)


9:00 am: Katie Rensch (Patricia Hampl and Peter Campion)

12:00 pm: Malinda Gosvig (Patricia Hampl and Madelon Sprengnether)

2:30 pm: Elizabeth O'Brien (Patricia Hampl and Peter Campion)


12:00 pm: Nicky Tiso (Ray Gonzalez and Richard Leppert)


12:00 pm: Julia Marley (Ray Gonzalez and Siobhan Craig)


12:00 pm: Lalinne Suon Bell (Maria Fitzgerald and Ray Gonzalez)

Spring/Summer Awards Winners

Mike Alberti was awarded the Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship.

Su Hwang was awarded the Michael Dennis Browne Poetry Fellowship.

Roy Guzmán and Emily Strasser were awarded GRPP summer research fellowships.

Jordan Thomas received a DOVE Summer Fellowship.

Megan Gette and Alexandra Watson received Marcella DeBourg Fellowships for their projects which "give creative expression to women's lives."

The following MFAs received CLA Summer Travel and Research Fellowships: D. Allen, Jon Atkinson, Kendra Atleework, Dana D'Amico, Veronica Kavass, Janna Knittel, and Anna Rasmussen.

Brooks Teevan was awarded a Gesell Anderson Center summer residency in Red Wing, MN.

Alexandra Watson also received a FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) Fellowship to travel to Norway this summer.

Fall Awards Winners

Congratulations to Kendra Atleework who won the Gesell Award in Fiction ("Gloria). Honorable Mention to Carl Peaslee for "Time Safari."

Kendra Atleework also won the Gesell Award in Nonfiction ("Grazing Patterns"). Honorable Mention to Elizabeth O'Brien for "Rough Outline for Essay About Bikes" and Jordan Thomas for "Take This as My Apology."

Trevor Ketner won the Gesell Award in Poetry ("Cardinal Farley's Palace, 1913"). Honorable Mention to Janna Knittel for "Western Fish Toxicology Station, Corvallis, Oregon."

Judges for the Gesell Awards were Caitlin Horrocks for Fiction, Tomas Morin for Poetry, and Bob Cowles for Nonfiction.

Additional congratulations goes out to Su Hwang ("An Elegy") and D. Allen ("Great Plains"), co-winners of the Academy of American Poets' James Wright Prize. Honorable Mention to Janna Knittel for "Kangaroo" and undergraduate Sam Jones for "Distractions."

Check out the Creative Writing Program's Newsletters with news on publications by students and faculty members, current student projects, and more!

2014 Newsletter Cover Spring 2013 MFA Newsletter

Student News

Nicky Tiso's poetry manuscript, "Cata/strophe," was named a 2014 finalist for the 1913 Prize for First Books, judged by Claudia Rankine. Congratulations Nicky!

Kendra Atleework's essay "Of Fish and Farmers" has been published in The Morning News.

Malinda Gosvig has an essay titled "The Fool" that will appear in the Winter issue of The Wayfarer.

Hunter Sharpless has an essay, "The Resurrection of the Author," in Atticus Review. It's about David Foster Wallace, the Book of Ecclesiastes, and the relationship between the writer and the reader.

Kendra Atleework's essay "Grazing Patterns," written with the support of a CLA Travel/Research Fellowship, is forthcoming in The Pinch Journal issue 35.1.

Elizabeth O'Brien has a mini-essay and a poem in the latest issues of New England Review and Carve.

Alumni News

Congratulations to the following alumni recipients of the Minnesota State Arts Board's Artist Initiative Grant: Elizabeth Abbott, Brian Malloy, and Martin Cozza!

Brian Laidlaw (2011) has a vinyl-LP-plus-poetry chapbook titled Amoratorium that is being published this month by Paper Darts Press. On November 20th, there will be a Rain Taxi "Free Verse" event and release celebration at the Walker Art Center. Brian will be performing with Bay Area poet Gillian Conoley. Get more details here!

Edward McPherson (2011) has a story in the latest issue of Gulf Coast titled "Kansas, America, 1889."

A.T. Grant (2012) has a piece, "The Body," that has been anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014. In addition, his multigenre novel, WAKE, will be published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in early 2015. Take a look at the cover!

Emily Bright (2008) has poetry that has recently appeared in Issue 13 (Science Poetry) of Eye to the Telescope with a poem titled "Discoveries" as well as in Issue 23 of Silver Blade Magazine with a poem titled "All worlds meet at Happy Nails." Additionally, she has poetry forthcoming in Weber-The Contemporary West.

Benjamin Doty (2010) has an essay, "The Cause," online at the Flagler Review.

Faculty News

Peter Campion’s third collection of poems, El Dorado, has recently received praise in in Slate, The Rumpus and PN Review (U.K.) His review of Louise Glück’s Faithful and Virtuous Night appeared in the New York Times Book Review. Translations of his poetry into Chinese have appeared in Enclave. Peter has given recent readings at Johns Hopkins University, the University Maryland, and Old Dominion University.

Charlie Baxter's new book, There's Something I Want You to Do, to be published by Pantheon in February, has received three starred reviews: one from Library Journal; one from Kirkus; and the latest from Publishers Weekly.

His short story "Charity" appears in the 2014 edition of Best American Short Stories, ed. by Jenniger Egan. Read an excerpt over at McSweeney's.

Julie Schumacher has a new review of her novel Dear Committee Members in The Independent.

Kim Todd's op-ed "A new rallying cry for the big game: Save the mascot!" was recently published in Grist.

Maria Fitzgerald was invited by The Best American Poetry blog to be the visiting writer from October 20-25 and has an essay, "Plots and Sisters," posted in five installments on the blog.

Madelon Sprengnether has two op-eds that have appeared in the Star Tribune, Where Poetry Lives: In Iran and Visiting Ground Zero with my Grandchildren.

Ray Gonzalez's new book of poetry, Soul Over Lightning, has just been published by the University of Arizona Press. He will read from it at the Minneapolis Central Library on November 8th at 7PM. The reading is part of BookMatch, a new series co-sponsored by the Hennepin County Library and The Loft. A review of Soul Over Lightning appears in the current issue of Booklist. His work is included in the newly released Best American Poetry 2014 (Scribners) and in Poems of the American South, edited by David Biespiel, the latest anthology in the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets series. His artwork is featured in the current issues of Caliban and Map Points. Poems and essays also appear in the new issues of The Drunken Boat, Terrain, Writing Disorder, Tammi, and The Hair Splitter.

Fall 2014 Readings/Events

Jeff Sharlet
7 pm, Thursday, October 2, Upson Room, Walter Library

Jeff Sharlet writes literary nonfiction about religion and culture in the U.S., notably in the books Sweet Heaven When I Die (2011), The Family (2008), and, with Peter Manseau, Killing the Buddha (2004). His latest work, Radiant Truths (2014), gathers works from American writers on the subject of spirituality.

“This book belongs in the tradition of long-form, narrative nonfiction best exemplified by Joan Didion, John McPhee [and] Norman Mailer. Sharlet deserves a place alongside such masters.” – Washington Post

Stacey D'Erasmo
7 pm, Tuesday, October 14, Weisman Art Museum

Novelist Stacey D’Erasmo is the author most recently of Wonderland (2014), the tale of a fortysomething female rock star on the comeback trail. She has published three other novels. D’Erasmo also wrote a 2013 work of nonfiction, The Art of Intimacy: part of Graywolf Press’s “Art of” series on the craft of writing, edited by Charles Baxter.

“D’Erasmo brings us inside the music and the musician’s psyche in this transfixing song of a self evolving through discovery, loss, and renewal.” – Booklist

John Berryman at 100
October 24-26, Elmer L. Andersen Library, West Bank

A conference celebrating the life and work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and longtime University of Minnesota professor John Berryman.

A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the poet John Berryman taught at the University of Minnesota from 1955 until his death in 1972. While at the U, Berryman published three major poetic works: Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (1956), 77 Dream Songs (1964), and His Toy, His Dream, His Rest (1968). The latter two were republished in 1969 as The Dream Songs, considered one of the most important collections of the 20th century. The conference will include readings featuring local and national poets, a panel discussion with Berryman’s former students, seminars discussing academic papers on Berryman, and more. Co-sponsored by the University Libraries. Free; registration required.

The Seventh Annual Benefit for Hunger, hosted by Charles Baxter featuring Jess Row
7 pm, Monday, November 3, University Hall, McNamara Alumni Center

Free with suggested $5 donation to benefit Second Harvest Heartland

Guest reader Jess Row joins Creative Writing faculty readers to raise money for Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization. This is the Seventh Annual Hunger Relief Benefit hosted by novelist and professor Charles Baxter and the Creative Writing Program. Row is the author of the new novel Your Face in Mine (Riverhead), which imagines a white American man choosing plastic surgery to appear black. Row has published two story collections.

MFA Candidate Reading
7 pm, Thursday, November 6, Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.

Please join the third-year Creative Writing Program MFA students for a reading of creative work featuring Malinda Gosvig, Julia Marley, Elizabeth O'Brien, Carl Peaslee, Katie Rensch, Hunter Sharpless, Lalinne Suon, Nicky Tiso, and Jason Zencka.

Bookmatch with Ray Gonzalez and Julie Schumacher
7 pm, Saturday, November 8, Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall

Hosted by Heather McElhatton, bestselling author and host of MPR's A Beautiful World, Bookmatch is Love Connection meets CNN Book World. Authors will reveal dark secrets, readers will be torn by choices, and free books will be give at the altar. Authors featured: YA novelist Will Alexander, poet Ray Gonzalez, nonfiction writer Rachael Hanel, YA novelist Geoff Herbach, nonfiction writer Neal Karlen, and novelist Julie Schumacher. In-person book signings, door prizes, random book giveaways, and desserts! Preregistration is requested.

Jamaal May
7 pm, Wednesday, November 12, Upson Room, Walter Library

Jamaal May won the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books for his first book, Hum (2013). He’s published two poetry chapbooks: The God Engine and The Whetting of Teeth. He is founding editor of the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series.

“The melancholic hum of May’s tone lends gravity and heart to this debut collection…May’s work is skillful and nuanced in its surprising approach to the nature (and nurture) of identity.” – Los Angeles Review of Books

Poet James Arthur Reading
6:30 pm, Thursday, November 20, Lind Hall 207A

James Arthur, born in Connecticut and raised in Canada, has had his poems appear in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, and The American Poetry Review. He has received the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, a Hodder Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, a residency at the Amy Clampitt House, and a Discovery/The Nation Prize. He is an Assistant Professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and lives in Baltimore with his wife and son. Charms Against Lightning, his debut poetry collection, is available from Copper Canyon Press as a Lanna Literary Selection.

Free Verse: Gillian Conoley and Brian Laidlaw
7 pm, Thursday, November 20, Walker Cinema

Program alum Brian Laidlaw will be performing for the release of his new poetry chapbook/vinyl album Amoratorium. He will perform alongside Bay Area poet Gillian Conoley who will be presenting Thousand Times Broken, her collection of previously untranslated texts by French writer Henri Michaux. Find out more details of the event here.

Nikky Finney Reading
7 pm, Saturday, November 22, The Loft Literary Center

Finney's fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split, was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry.

Alum Sherry Quan Lee and Christine Stark
3 pm, Sunday, November 23, Subtext Books

MFA alum Sherry Quan Lee (1996) presents her book, Love Imagined: a Mixed Race Memoir, and Christine Stark will present her book, Nickels: a Tale of Dissociation.

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