MFA@FLA Newsletter, Spring 2017

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 was written by Padgett Powell through 2017; beginning 2018 it is written by Michael Hofmann. The balance of the Newsletter is written by graduates, current students, and faculty.


Somber note: Jill Ciment's husband, Arnold Mesches, died recently.  A good profile is here. Arnold was a good painter, and he had a good appetite.  He did several Festival posters for us and forced me to cook ribs.

Less somber notes: Chris Bachelder's novel The Throwback Special did not win the National Book Award, but as the best-written book in the pile it was not expected to win.  We issued press releases for this shortlisting and for books by Natalie Graham and Aaron Thier.  Mr. Thier will visit campus in February for a program concerning climate change.

Even less somber:  Two stories by our peeps are in the big annual best-story anthologies:  Rebecca Evanhoe’s “They Were Awake,” originally in Harper’s, in the O. Henry Prize Stories 2016, and  Daniel O’Malley’s “Bridge,” originally in Alaska Quarterly Review, in the Best American Short Stories 2016. Hai-Deng Phan has won the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry.  This is just in at press time; we will essay to promulgate a release.

Alumni and alumnae, to rhyme with knee and nigh, respectively, if your Latin has waned, published 16 books in 2016, and we know of at least 10 scheduled for 2017.  These publications can be seen, almost reliably, on our distinguished-alum pages.  This is a good count that tops, we think, the previous record production between 2004-2005, when fifteen MFA@FLA graduates published seventeen books (see the 2006 Newsletter).

Yet less somber:  Stores continue to close.  My suspicion that Beatty's Restaurant Supply was ill was astute; it died.  But a new green shoot appears in the scorched earth: Third House Books, which we are regarding as the proximate heir to Goering's, has opened next to the Wine & Cheese Gallery, which has re-opened as itself.

A bookstore, some wine.  Evidence that MFA@FLA writes.  Okay.  Not all that somber after all.


Halvor Aakhus (MFA, 2011)
Writing.  Working at The Missouri Review.  Getting a PhD on the side.

Kevin Canty (MA, 1990)
It's been an eventful few years. I have a new novel called The Underworld coming out in March. I've had three stories in the New Yorker lately, one in Granta, one in Best American, others and essays here and there. My son and daughter have become adult human beings, oddly enough. I am the only member of my band, the Pleasure Kings, that does not yet have grandchildren. Time marches on.

Kristen Herrera (Dawes) (MFA, 2014)
Poems? Yeah, I think I published a couple this year. Hard to remember when I only started sleeping again about two months back. Which can only mean, we had a baby! In other events, I'm making a living working from home with technical writing, grant writing, SEO content writing, reading comprehension test question writing, plus other freelance jobs. And oh, how I miss the poetry. Enjoying reading all the greats books, articles, and others from MFA@FLAers!

Ric Hoeben is an American fiction and creative non-fiction writer whose work is most often set in the American South. Hoeben resides in Georgetown, South Carolina and is a Native American activist for both the Waccamaw Tribe and the Creek Tribe. He attended the University of Florida for his M.F.A. in fiction and studied there under Padgett Powell and Harry Crews. Hoeben's 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
Three of my poetry books were re-issued at the beginning of the year by Faber, on the grounds of longevity or immortality, I’m not sure. Then again, I translated (apparently) only one book, Cold Shoulder, a gripping and wonderful novel by the cult Swiss author Markus Werner (who sadly died just before he could see a copy). I wrote articles on Kafka and Fallada for the T.L.S., on Szalai, Transtromer, and Wallace Stevens for the L.R.B., and on Robert Walser and (forthcoming) Günter Grass for the N.Y.R.B. Also forthcoming is a collection of Kafka’s uncollected shorter prose – most of the things he asked Brod to destroy. This is coming out as The Burrow from Penguin in England and Investigations of a Dog from New Directions in New York.

Hilary Jacqmin (MFA, 2012)
David Fishman (MFA, 2012) and I got married in October 2015, after over a decade of biding our time. We've been living in Baltimore, MD since graduation and working at Johns Hopkins University Press, where Dave is a database programmer and I am an associate production editor. This fall brought three major life events: we adopted a new cat, Matilda, who is about 100% more friendly around people than Penny ever was; my first book of poems, Missing Persons, was picked up by Waywiser Press for publication in March 2017; and we learned that we are expecting a human girl-child this coming April. Come visit us in our small house -- we have just enough room for AWP-goers.  

Rachel Khong (MFA, 2011)
In September 2016, I left my role as Executive Editor at Lucky Peach. This year I have two books coming out: a nonfiction book about eggs, called All About Eggs (Clarkson Potter), out in April, and my novel, Goodbye, Vitamin (Holt), out in July. Maybe I’ll see you soon!

David Leavitt
A quiet year, which is a good thing, I think. In April I went to New York, where I had lunch with MFA alums RL Goldberg and Heather Peterson. Then in May I went to London, where I had dinner with MFA alum Margaret Luongo, now an associate professor at Miami University and a member of the faculty of its London summer program. Most of the summer I spent working on a novel about an interior decorator, set in 1982, the first work of fiction I have undertaken in years that is set after I was born. The big non-fiction project I have moved to the back burner. Oh, and Subtropics is celebrating its tenth anniversary! Our twenty-second issue comes out in December. Hoorah!

William Logan
I’m spending the fall in England on research leave, where everyone wants to talk about Trump or Brexit. This last year I published poems in Birmingham Poetry Review, Hopkins Review, Ploughshares, PN Review, Poetry, TLS, and a number of online journals, including Dispatches, District Lit, Partisan, Public Pool, and the American Journal of Poetry. I published an essay on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 2 and a eulogy on the death of Geoffrey Hill in the New Criterion, as well as the usual verse chronicles in June and December. Last April I gave the PhD commencement speech at UF, the first time I’ve ever been on Florida Field (or in the stadium, for that matter), and the first and perhaps last time I’ve used a Teleprompter. I taught a workshop on meter at the West Chester Poetry Conference in the summer. My book of poetry Rift of Light comes out next fall, I’ve finished a new book of criticism, and I’m working on a collection of Donald Justice’s criticism.

Anthony Luebbert (MFA, 2009)
As I write, I’m heading into my third winter in Wisconsin. It’s raining today. Leaves everywhere! My wife and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary this summer. We have a greyhound and live next to a large oak tree. Everything is well and full of love.

Randall Mann (MFA, 1997)
My fourth collection of poems, Proprietary, is forthcoming from Persea Books in summer 2017, and it has a badass cover by the great Marilyn Minter.  I published new poems in PoetryCopper Nickel, Cincinnati Review, The Adroit Journal, and The Arkansas International, and on Poem-A-Day. I recently did a podcast for the Poetry Foundation on poetry, the Orlando Massacre, and LGBT issues; it's here.  @randallmannpoet

Eve (Watson Adamson) Minkler (MFA, 1992)
A lot happened this year—I collaborated on many books and had 5 of them come out in 2016: The Prime with Ayurvedic neurologist Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, Fast Metabolism Food Rx with celeb nutritionist Haylie Pomroy, The Age Fix with plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn, The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl with reality TV star Jaime Primark Sullivan, and Yeah Baby! with erstwhile Biggest Loser trainer and current Just Jillian star Jillian Michaels. (Just writing all that makes me want to take a nap.) I turned 50 and spent pretty much the whole year shamelessly celebrating. We became empty nesters, as my youngest son Emmett left for college, to be a vocal performance major--just after fracturing a vertebrae by falling off a motorcycle. He went to college in a back brace. My oldest son turned 21 this year, after dislocating a finger on a motorcycle, and I have bribed them both until they both agreed not to ride those things anymore. My granddaughter Kya started preschool, and spends a lot of time at my house, for which I am grateful. My husband Ben and I adopted two Boston Terrier puppies to soothe the empty nest pangs and we dote on them like old people. I have also taken up gardening, and I pull weeds and harvest kale while Ben yells at the neighbor kids to get off his lawn—i.e., we are adjusting to our new life stage nicely. So, lots of transitions, lots of work, lots of growing pains, lots of goodness.

Ange Mlinko
My second year in Gainesville has been peaceful and productive: In May, I gave a talk at Poetry by the Sea, a conference in Madison, Connecticut; in September, I gave a revised version of the talk at the Hugo House in Seattle, as part of the Bagley-Wright Lecture Series. Over the summer, the Dominique Lévy gallery commissioned me to write a poem for its exhibition catalog, of a show by the sculptor Joel Shapiro, and in November they flew me to New York for a reading of it. In the meantime, I published poems and essays on Reginald Gibbons, Denise Riley, and Delmore Schwartz for The London Review of Books, Literary Imagination, Southern Review, The Nation, and Poetry magazines. My new book of poems, Distant Mandate, is forthcoming from FSG in the spring. And finally, I was happy to trade the poetry editorship of The Nation for that of our very own Subtropics.

Janna Moretti  (MFA Fiction, 2018)
This year has been full. My daughter turns one in November. My husband apprentices at Anthem Tattoo in Gainesville. At UF, I'm adapting to teaching argumentative writing and creative writing. We're busy, but striking a balance while we pursue. I have stories forthcoming in The Gordian Review and Identity Theory. I'm working on a collection of linked stories.  

Hai-Dang Phan (MFA, 2013) 
I still live in Des Moines and teach at Grinnell College. The commute on I-80, without traffic or blizzard, is about the length of Beyoncé’s Lemonade. The apartment where I now reside is located in a former transfer warehouse for perishable produce. I like it. So, this past year I published poems in Bennington ReviewjubilatNew England ReviewPoetryPublic Pool, and Prelude. I’m happy and honored to say that my poem from Poetry was selected for Best American Poetry 2016 and also received the Frederick Bock Prize from the editors of Poetry. Early summer my chapbook, Small Wars, was lovingly published by Convulsive Editions, a micro-press from Chicago run by my friends Nate and Nikki. Late summer I attended Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. That was also my first time in Vermont. I was hoping to see “The Moose,” or just a moose, but sadly, no moose sightings to speak of—only other lost poets. Also elusive still, the first poetry book… Maybe next year! 

John Poch (MFA, 1997) 
John Poch has recently published poems in The Common, Conjunctions, Yale Review, Antioch Review, and Sewanee, among other journals. In Fall 2017, his next book of poems, Between Two Rivers (a collaboration with the photographer Jerod Foster) will be published by TTU Press. It will be a big ol’ fancy coffee table book about Texas and New Mexico rivers and riparian environments.

Dave Reidy (MFA, 2006)      
AWP and the final two events in my shoestring-budget book tour presented the opportunity to lay eyes on more than a few of my MFA@FLA compatriots, listed here by surname: Vines, Jih, Levine, Maxson, Murray and Shevenock, among others. I was glad and grateful to see them and delighted (though not surprised) to find all doing splendidly. In Chicago, my spouse person Tiffany, an actor, recently attended the same post-theatre gathering as one Amanda Powell, also an actor. The two of them, sharp-minded ladies both, connected the dots back to Col. Powell and me in Gainesville. Tiffany will play the title role in Jean Racine’s PHEDRE this winter. Work continues on a non-fiction project that has occupied my writing mind for the past several years, and I celebrated my ten-year anniversary at closerlook, inc. Our two boys are growing up and, happily, have taken to books. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that they also have taken to iPads. 

Eileen Rush (MFA, 2017)
It’s been a year of travel and connection. James and I drove around Costa Rica in March with a GPS borrowed from Padgett Powell. In May, Marie McGrath (2018) and I roadtripped from San Diego, CA to Denver, CO, camping in Joshua Tree, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Zion, and Moab along the way. I quit smoking on this trip after nearly a decade of habit. I was at AWP in LA,  and attended the Sewanee Writers Conference where I met some amazing people (and MFA@FLA alumni!) and took a workshop with Robert Hass and A. E. Stallings. I also met Maria Nazos, who passed along to Ted Kooser that I’d named my cat after him, and he sent back a poem dedicated “To Eileen and her cat Ted Kooser.” You can find my little devil on Instagram, #tedkoosercat. My other cat-son, Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, is as Disney-eyed as ever (IG #digbyinabox). Writers Festival 2016 was an incredible experience, and it’s good to go out with a bang. James and I are in the process of plotting our next move. I have poems coming out in the summer 2017 issues of FOLIO, Jelly Bucket, and Pleiades. My poem “Colt” is a finalist for the Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize.

John L. Sheppard (MFA, 1994)     
My newest novel, Explosive Decompression, came out in 2016 via Paragraph Line Books.

Emma Smith-Stevens (MFA, 2013)
My first book, a novel called The Australian, will be out from Dzanc Books in May 2017. I am teaching fiction writing with the Bard Prison Initiative. 

On the home-front, Sebastian has become an extraordinary chef. Most recently we had oxtails and a pear crumble. We continue to adore our dogs, Phil and Potter, who are both doing very well. My houseplant survival rate, however, has plummeted to 50%. I deserve never to be gifted an orchid again for the rest of my life.

Alexandra Teague (MFA, 1998) 
After almost a decade of being a behind-the-scenes fiction writer, my first novel, The Principles Behind Flotation, is forthcoming from Skyhorse in March 2017. With my second book of poetry, The Wise and Foolish Builders, out from Persea in April 2015, I've also been working on a new poetry manuscript. Poems have recently appeared in Copper Nickel, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere, and are forthcoming in journals including Blackbird, Barrow Street, and Southern Humanities Review. I continue to be an editor for Broadsided Press and am now Associate Professor of Poetry at University of Idaho.

Chris Tusa (MFA, 2000)
During the last year, Tusa's work has appeared in New South, The South Dakota Review, The Huffington Post, and Five Points. His second novel, In the City of Falling Stars, was first runner-up for the Faulkner Wisdom Award and was published by the University of West Alabama in October of 2016. His third novel, More Devils Than Hell Can Hold, a historical novel set in a brothel in New Orleans in the late 19th century, is currently agented and is making its way around to some of the NY houses. He is currently working on two novels--a contemporary novel set in Uptown New Orleans and a historical novel set in 1873 in a lunatic asylum in Jackson, Louisiana.

Adam Vines (MFA, Poetry, 2006)
This past year my progeny placed first in the state competition on the beam, fourth overall. I am giving her growth retardant, the kind I put on elaeagnus bushes when I was in the landscaping biz, so she will keep her raccoon strength to size ratio for the duration. At eight, she has taken full control of her “’gina” and will tell you so without prompting.

This past year, I published poems and read poems and delivered lectures at various places, and my new manuscript of poems, Out of Speech, was just picked up by LSU Press for publication in spring of 2018.

I go up for tenure next year. 

Richard K. Weems (MFA, 1993)
Witnessed the publication of Stark Raving Blue in 2016. Joined the faculty roster of the New England Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf. Saw a few new stories come to light in Potomac Review, weirderary, Flash Fiction Magazine and the like. More forthcoming. Guided a student into the finals of the National Student Poets Program but alas couldn't convince Michelle O. to pick her. Have apparently fostered a readership in the Philippines.

Martin Wilson (MFA, 1998)
My novel We Now Return to Regular Life will be published in August of 2017 by Dial Books for Young Readers. I am now a Senior Publicity Manager at Ecco, a division of HarperCollins.