MFA@FLA Newsletter, Spring 2016

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

We are eight years into our three-year program and all is well. Books being published left and right. See below and see invidious distinguished-alum pages at http://www.english.ufl.edu/crw/publications.html.

The bummer news is that the real stores in Gainesville continue to close: The Lighting Gallery, Brasington’s, the shoe dude on Main, Zell’s Hardware on top of George’s Hardware on top of Rice Hardware (where now several MFAs work for Shadow Health). Beatty’s Restaurant Supply looks suspiciously lean. One must worry now about Lloyd Clarke’s and Alachua Feed and Seed and The Wood Stove, and it can but be a matter of time before Lentz House of Time runs out of it. Two solid real stores not going anywhere are Beckwith’s Guns and Reddick’s Hardware, across the prairie and far enough away that Gainesville cannot kill them, we hope.

A possible resurrection to Goerings’ is revealed below in a note from our assistant Eileen Rush:

Kiren Valjee, friend to many MFAs, is opening an independent bookstore and coffee shop in downtown Gainesville. Third House Books & Coffee will be located in the former dining room of a Main Street cultural staple, The Wine & Cheese Gallery, which folded last year. MFAs have been involved with renovating and restoring the space. Kiren hopes to open Third House Books & Coffee within the next few months. More information is (or will become) available at http://www.thirdhousebooks.com.

Testimonials

Halvor Aakhus (MFA, 2011)
Got fired from the teaching job and founded a literary press called Knut House. We’re publishing 20 books a year so far, and sponsor four contests via knuthousepress.com. Getting fired’s been great: focusing on that next novel, eating lots of Ramen with Tabasco sauce.

Bill Beverly (MA, 1991)
First novel, Dodgers, due from Crown in April 2016, only 25 years post-MFA@FLA. Available in UK and empire from No Exit Press, and later in France and places French from Le Seuil Editions. It has been selected as a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick for Spring 2016. New story forthcoming in Gargoyle, the literary flagship of Washington, DC. Featured exhibit at the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. In April, joined combined-agencies manhunt and, with help of trusty daughter and Corolla, located missing person, alive and furtive about it. Still teaching or trying to at Trinity University. Turned a proper fifty, in a hail of bottles.

David Caplan (MFA, 1993)
Rhyme’s Challenge: Hip Hop, Poetry, and Contemporary Rhyming Culture appeared with Oxford University Press in 2014. I am editing an essay collection, On Rhyme, for Presses Universitaires de Liège (Belgium); it should appear this year, along with a French edition of Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form (Oxford University Press, 2005). I also have committed to write American Poetry: A Very Short Introduction for Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introduction Series.

Leah Carroll (MFA, 2007)
This year, I saw fellow MFA@FLA’er Dave Reidy read from his fantastic new novel, The Voiceover Artist. I taught alum David Ramsey’s I Will Forever Remain Faithful in my class and my students all freaked. Then I had the privilege of opining on a draft of his latest essay “Prayers for Richard.” You should stop what you are doing and go read both. I went to the MacDowell Colony, where alum Hayden Draper watched me give the drunkest presentation ever on the proposal I was writing. Then my agent sold my proposal to Hachette/Grand Central and the book, a memoir called Down City, will come out in early Spring 2017. Somewhere in there alum Lee Pinkas drove through a flood to come watch me get married. I’m pretty sure I ran into Jill Ciment on the street here in Brooklyn, and I certainly bugged David Leavitt via email plenty. I wrote essays for Cosmo, Deadspin, and New York Magazine. Chewy turns 16 in February.

Diya Chaudhuri (MFA, 2011)
You will all be pleased to learn that I have secured PAYING employment as a writer, exploring dynamic new ways to integrate the words “leverage,” “opportunity,” “maximize,” “optimize,” and “dynamic” into sentences FOR capitalists FROM capitalists. These days, I smile tightly and nod quite a bit! At the moment, I am trying to appear supportive of my terrible boyfriend, whose terrible football team just won a national championship. We have three cats between us, which has been a blessing. I run a literary journal called The Mondegreen with some friends from the grad school I rebounded with after MFA@FLA. I’m trying to wear my glasses more instead of contacts. I’m in my thirties and it’s time to be good to my eyes, I think.

Zacc Dukowitz (MFA, 2012)
My wife and I are coming up on three years of living on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, and it has been good to us. Lots of avocados on the ground, coffee plants in the yard, and three volcanoes in sight from our patio, looking out across the lake. Since moving here I’ve had some good success with publishing in small presses—5 short shorts and 11 stories have come out in that time—and I launched a website to showcase that work (zaccdukowitz.com). I’m kept busy working full time from home as a marketer for an edtech company, but try to write for short periods every day, or at least keep it well in mind.

Mary Beth Ferda (MFA, 2009) and Daniel O’Malley (MFA, 2008)

When people ask me how I am doing I always say the same thing. “She’s been here [14 months] and my hair is still blown back from it.” Our daughter Fredarika turned one year old on December 4th. I continue to practice massage therapy, lately focusing my work on pregnancy and postpartum, as well as depression/anxiety/chronic conditions. Autoimmunity has revealed itself in my family tree, right when I didn’t need a new obsession. Daniel loves teaching at Marshall University. He has new stories in Alaska Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, and Gulf Coast.. Freddy started walking this last week and shows no signs of stopping. I’m so proud of them both. Yesterday I traveled alone into Kentucky to find an oral surgeon willing to extract a tooth using only local anesthetic. Believe me it was a nice, quiet drive. Huntington, West Virginia is rad. As ever, you’re invited.

Ric Hoeben (MFA, 2007)
Ric Hoeben lives in Georgetown, South Carolina, by the coast. His most recent work has been found in Tampa Review, storySouth, Glimmer Train, James Dickey Review, Clapboard House, The Monarch Review, Spork, Atticus Review, Hobart, Connotation Press, Burrow Press Review, Pithead Chapel, Umbrella Factory, the Newer York, and Waccamaw.

Michael Hofmann
These things always remind me of the late Brecht poem where he says he had his share of the asparagus crop and the new potatoes… and put on a production of Mother Courage with the Berliner Ensemble. Anyway, this past year I wrote about Brecht and about Hans Magnus Enzensberger for the TLS, and about Kundera and the sadly departed Heaney for the London Review of Books. I made a selection of Joseph Roth’s journalism and published that as The Hotel Years (Granta and New Directions); delivered Jakob Wassermann’s sensational posthumous account My Marriage from the rubble of a trilogy that no one reads (NYRB Classics series); and translated Erich Maria Remarque’s not-quite-finished last book, The Promised Land (Vintage). I have almost finished translations of Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz and Kafka’s Investigations of a Dog (the unpublished stories he wanted to have destroyed). Faber handsomely reprinted three of my books of poems from the ‘80s and ‘90s: Nights in the Iron Hotel, Corona, Corona and Approximately Nowhere, so I can feel like a proper monument. (The comma in “Corona, Corona” looks especially wonderful.) Now I want asparagus and new potatoes.

Noy Holland (MFA, 1993)
My first novel, BIRD, came out from Counterpoint in November, and has been favorably reviewed by the New York Times, LA Times, Publishers’ Weekly, The Boston Globe, Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, Entropy, and others. Essays and interviews have appeared recently in LitHub, Electric Literature, Publishers’ Weekly: Tip Sheet, Numero Cinq, and Glimmer Train. I have stories forthcoming or recently published in No Token, Conjunctions, Catapult, Epoch, Fence, and The Kenyon Review.

Rachel Khong (MFA, 2011)
I’m still in the Bay Area, splitting time between San Francisco and my cabin in the woods, and still working at Lucky Peach, which is now, in addition to a magazine, also a website and books (all of which I’ve been recruiting MFA@FLA alum/faculty to write for). In other news, Holt will be publishing the novel that I started writing in Florida! It’s called Goodbye, Vitamin, and will be out June 2017.

Noelle Kocot (MFA, 1995)
My seventh book of poems, Phantom Pains of Madness, will be out from Wave Books in May 2016. I am going to be teaching at University of Texas at Austin for the fall semester, 2016.

David Leavitt
I was on sabbatical in the fall. in September I went to London, Paris, and two very different parts of Italy: Pordenone in the North and Taormina in Sicily. October and December I spent in Gainesville in reclusion.

The longish non-fiction book on which I am working continues to protract itself. God willing this time next year I’ll be able to report its completion.

The most fun thing I did was an interview for the History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens.” This took place to Chicago, where the temperature was two degrees and I had a wonderful dinner with MFA@FLA alum Dave Reidy and his wife, Tiffany.

William Logan
William Logan has published poems recently in the Nation, New England Review, New Criterion, Salmagundi, and Tin House, as well as a suite of sixteen poems under the title “Greenwich Mean” in Sewanee Review. He had a long essay on Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” in the New Criterion, and a similar piece on William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” in Parnassus. The latter attracted some news coverage in the New York Times. He published a review of introductions to Best American Poetry in Partisan, and short pieces on the state of criticism in Battersea Review, on a reading by Randall Jarrell in 92nd Street Y on Demand, and on the late James Tate in Partisan, all of these online. His biannual verse chronicles for the New Criterion appeared in June and December, when he was given a lunch by the magazine on the twentieth anniversary of the first chronicle. His interview with Jonathan Hobratsch of Literati Quarterly appeared during the summer. He read at Colorado College last fall, and at the memorial service for Claudia Emerson at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Margaret Luongo (MFA, 2001)
Still in Ohio, with a new story collection History of Art coming out this April through LSU Press. Billy is in art school full time. All of our Florida cats have expired; Nina was the last cat standing and she made it to just shy of 19 years. Toward the end, I caught her lunging at my neck while I slept. I think she was ready to go. We have two Ohio cats now--Basho and Loureeda. Loureeda fell out of the engine compartment of a van onto her little face when she was a kitten. She’s slightly off appearance-wise and possibly mentally, too. Hard to tell with cats.

Randall Mann (MFA, 1997)
My fourth collection of poems, Proprietary, is forthcoming from Persea Books in summer 2017. I have new poems in Poetry, jubilat, Cincinnati Review, 32 Poems, and Copper Nickel. I recently returned from extended travel, five months, 14 countries--a much needed break. @randallmannpoet

Christopher Merkner (MFA, 2001)
It was a good year: I had a story that originally came out in Subtropics come out again in the O. Henry Prize stories of 2015, and one of the judges, Michael Parker, had some absurdly generous things to say about it. And my story collection (Rise & Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic, CHP/2014) won a Colorado Book Award. Feeling very lucky and grateful.

Eve (Watson Adamson) Minkler (MFA, 1992)
Because I am nearing the big 5-0 birthday this month, I have spent the past year de-cluttering my work schedule (and brain), to make more room for my own writing. Ghostwriting can suck up everything else, so I’m putting things in perspective. I’ve managed to write a little and have had poems recently in Unsplendidand The Lyric, but I hope I have more than that to report next year. Otherwise, in the first half of 2016, I have several ghostwritten (with credit) books coming out, including The Prime with Ayurvedic neurologist Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, The Age Fix with plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn, and Fast Metabolism Food Rx with nutritionist Haylie Pomroy. I am currently working on cookbooks that are follow-up books to diet books, for Dr. Terry Wahls and the actress Jennifer Esposito, and have several proposals circulating. In other news, my granddaughter is almost 4 and her dad, my oldest son, just turned 20 (you do the math). My youngest son is a senior and will be off to college next year, and my amazing college student assistant will graduate and leave me right when Emmett goes to college. I foresee some major empty nest syndrome happening in the fall. My best friend and I will be spending a few weeks in France this summer by ourselves to celebrate our half-century birthdays together. Our excuse for not inviting our male partners is that we are sparing them our imminent menopausal anger and irritability, but we really just want an excuse to go drink wine and eat chocolate croissants and talk about them. I plan to write about it, but writing about it here makes it sound pretty pedestrian. Perhaps we need to set some loftier goals.

Ange Mlinko
If I look myself up in the library catalog (my substitute for a working memory), I see that I published review essays on the poetry of Jorie Graham (The Nation), Tom Pickard (Poetry), and David Breskin (Parnassus). Also for the Nation, I reviewed Langdon Hammer’s tremendous biography of James Merrill, whose “The Victor Dog” I explicated for the Poetry Foundation, in a poem guide and podcast. And I have published new poems in Poetry, The American Scholar, Paris Review, Granta, and last but not least, The New Yorker, which also features a recording of me reading the poem, which was selected for its year-end “best of the New Yorker” list.

Janna Moretti (MFA, 2018)

In this last year, I defended my Master’s Thesis, “Still Choices: Short Fiction and Working Class Awareness,” and graduated with my MA in English from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. I published in Daedalus, Blue Collar Review, and a forthcoming gender diversity anthology. I moved to Gainesville. I began my MFA-Fiction program at UF. I had a baby. We named her Madelyn Jane, but she coos and occasionally cries to the name, “Plum-berry Perfect Cherub.”

Martha Otis (MFA, 2000)
I’ve been busy working on my novel Apollonia in Estrus, excerpts of which have earned publication and prizes including a full ride to the Key West Literary Seminars. This summer, the book was also short-listed for the Graywolf prize for novel-in-progress at the Disquiet Literary Seminars. Disquiet awarded me a scholarship to attend the two-week event in Lisbon (high point of which was meeting Noy Holland, hearing her read alongside Mary Gaitskill, and meeting her amazing children). From Lisbon I headed to Jerez, Spain to reunite with fellow MFA Charlie Geer and meet his lovely wife Concha. I arrived in the middle of the night and found them in a tiny gypsy bar full of families dancing flamenco and drinking sherry and 7Up. Charlie is alive and well and writing great stuff. I left Jerez for a tango marathon in Sitjes and an artist residency north of Barcelona. Why the Grand Tour all of the sudden? I figured it was a good time to celebrate the conclusion to an 18-year-long child-raising marathon. (This marathon is the reason the Newsletter hasn’t heard from me in a while.) Outcome: Serena graduated from high school in June and is now happily into her second semester of International Studies at the University of Miami. If anyone has seen Jennifer Rappaport please tell her to call me.

John Poch, (MFA, 1997)
My fourth book of poems, Fix Quiet, (2014 New Criterion Poetry Prize) came out in May 2015 and a photgraphy/art collaboration with the artist J. Eric Simpson called Longsuffering was made with a Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $14,000. A short PBS Film was made about our collaboration: https://www.facebook.com/24FramesKTTZ/videos/893039444076929/. As well, I have poems recent and forthcoming in Orion, Hobart, Yale Review, Tuesday, Sewanee Review, and other journals.

Padgett Powell
Had an unexpected-child book come out called Cries For Help, Various, which it was. Did a young-man’s full book tour, engendering a mountain of publicity and press, some of it by superior critics not read in the big mainstream press. Sum of these efforts resulted in book’s being outperformed by its sole stablemate at my new press. I insisted any audio book would be done by me, expecting publisher to demur, publisher assented and I had tongue surgery virtually the day contract was signed. BBC rescued me from utter despair by doing three radio shows of me things so good even I can listen to them. We can but soldier on, winning or losing.

Magdalen Powers (MFA, 2008)
There is big news: After much (much!) ado, I have at last scored a full-time, tenure-track teaching job at my fabulous place of previously-part-time employ, Chemeketa Community College, in Salem, Ore. I am currently in my second year, teaching intro comp, tech writing, fiction (online), and poetry (in prison). In even bigger news, in August, I’m marrying the best human ever. He is brilliant, adorable, kind, and good, and we get each other’s jokes. We’re not quite sure what we’re going to do after we get hitched, but we think it will be good! Oh: Also, I write. Two book-length things in the works, neither of which are fiction. Such surprises. I hope you all are well!

Dave Reidy (MFA, 2006)
Late in 2015, after eight years of writing and re-writing, my novel The Voiceover Artist was published. Thanks in large part, I’m sure, to generous blurbs from two of my MFA@FLA instructors, the book won enough positive attention to be included among Library Journal’s Top Indie Fall Fiction titles and named a Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association. The brief tour I made in support of the novel gave me a chance to catch up with Stephen Priest and Leah (Carroll) Catucci, among others. In early 2016, my wife Tiffany and I had dinner with David Leavitt in Chicago. All of these re-connections were pleasant. During AWP in Los Angeles, I’ll moderate a panel called the “Lit/Comedy Roundtable: L.A. Edition,” billed as a gathering of book people who love comedy and comedy people who love books to discuss how (or if?) comedy and contemporary literature inform one another.The event will be held on Saturday, April 2nd, at 8pm at comedy club iO West in Hollywood.The Brooklyn and Chicago editions of the Roundtable were good fun, so mark your calendars and join us if you can.

John L. Sheppard (MFA, 1994)
I had two novels come out this past year, After the Jump (2015, Paragraph Line Books) and Escape from Mondo Tiki Island (2015, Paragraph Line Books). More about my books here: www.johnlsheppard.com. I currently serve as the Public Affairs Officer for Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, home of the U.S. Navy’s only boot camp.

Meg Shevenock, (MFA, 2008)
Suddenly, I live in Los Angeles, with a dear husband and a dog in a 1920’s cabin inhabited by a ghost named Goldie, a former Ziegfeld Folly dancer who once hung silk handkerchiefs from the ceiling. Our dog is Coda, a 7-year-old Rottweiler Shepherd who we adopted two years ago and who had severe anxiety and PTSD to the degree that we had to take her to the boot camp of a famous dog trainer who changed all our lives. Now I think about animals more than anything else except for miracles (like finding particular kinds of garbage on the street) and death. I suppose they are all points on the same triangle.

I’m in my 7th year of teaching poetry and art to profoundly gifted kids, a dream job, a challenging job, wherein I am my only colleague, inventing as I go. Lately we have been reading Emily Dickinson, Yu Xuanji and Robert Lax, and studying conceptual and time work artists like On Kawara.

In the fall, I met Werner Herzog and we shared an intense, five-minute-session of eye contact and conversation. This was one of the highlights of my life.

Last year I was a blogger for the Kenyon Review and I remembered how much I love the essay as form. I also had a show of sculptures and writing called “Some Begins,” with my collaborator Jamie Boyle. I still write poems most days. Someday I hope to finish one of the many spilling manuscripts I have going. If we win the Powerball tonight, that’s what is going to happen. If we don’t win the Powerball tonight, I am going to try anyway.

Emma Smith-Stevens (MFA, 2013)
Big news! I got married to Sebastian Boensch (fellow MFA@FLA alum) last spring. When Sebastian came to visit Gainesville as a prospective student, Padgett Powell, upon learning that I would be picking Sebastian up at the airport, implored me not to “scare him off.” That was the best advice I’ve ever received.

My stories have appeared this year in The Mondegreen, Amazon’s Day One, Joyland, Quarter After Eight, Burrow Press Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Subtropics. My story “An August in the Early 2000’s,” published last year in Wigleaf, received a Special Mention in The 2016 Pushcart Prize anthology. Also, I write a fake advice column at The Mondegreen called “Ask a Famous Man.”

These days I’m living in Hudson, NY, writing, working freelance jobs, and grateful to be spending a few weeks this spring at the Wassaic Artist Residency. I’ll also be running a mini-creative writing summer camp at Woodstock Day School this July.

Alexandra Teague (MFA, 1998)
My second book of poetry, The Wise and Foolish Builders, came out from Persea in April 2015 and has received nice reviews in Booklist and Huffington Post. Last Spring, I also traveled to Columbia, MO, to read as one of the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize winners--for my series of poems called “Letters to Phryne.” Other new work has been published or is forthcoming in journals including Pleiades, Copper Nickel, and Alaska Quarterly Review. I am currently up for tenure at University of Idaho, and continue to be an editor for Broadsided, as well as faculty advisor for Fugue.

Adam Vines (MFA, 2006)
I remain in Birmingham with Melissa and Progeny. Progeny has shown an interest in gymnastics, and she won the state in her division on the bars. She is made of rubber and strong as an otter. At the dinner table, Progeny asked if I liked being a boy. I said, “Yes, it ain’t bad.” She said, “The penis seems like a lot of trouble.” I agreed.

I am still teaching creative writing at UAB, where I edit Birmingham Poetry Review. I have recently been christened director of the English Honors Program. According to Discretion, a collaborative poetry collection written with Allen Jih (MFA, 2006), came out from Unicorn Press in 2015. I published poems at some places last year, including Poetry, and I have poems forthcoming in The Hopkins Review, Green Mountains Review, and Subtropics.

Sidney Wade
Sidney Wade is teaching her last class at UF this spring semester. At the end of April she will kick off her retirement with a two-week birding trip to the Bahamas. A bigger expedition, to Patagonia in the fall, is in the works. To that end, she is sitting in on an elementary Spanish class and is already a whiz at discussing the weather. She will continue her annual migrations between Rangeley, Maine, and Gainesville (and Kansas!) as she assumes the full plumage of the adult Snow Bird. Hasta luego, mis amigos!

Martin Wilson (MFA, 1998)
Last fall I sold my second novel, We Now Return to Regular Life, to Dial Books for Young Readers. Publication is tentatively planned for Summer 2017. I continue to live in New York City, where I’m still a senior publicity manager at HarperCollins.

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