MFA@FLA Newsletter, Spring 2014

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

The large news today comes from the president of the university on 1/6/14:

“I’m writing to announce a nearly $5 million investment in new faculty—the next step in our initiative to strengthen the University of Florida’s standing as one of the top public research universities in the country.

“This week, we’re allocating an additional nearly $4.7 million, including $1.675 million from the state and $3 million in university money. This investment will make possible a second wave of faculty recruits in a dozen additional high-potential areas—including African studies, creative writing, nanomedicine, social network analysis, obesity research, skeletal muscle biology, personalized medicine, online learning, unmanned vehicles and renewable energy.

“These new faculty will advance cutting-edge science and scholarship.

“With their expertise and leadership, we’ll work to pinpoint the best medicines for individual patients through analysis of their genes. We’ll investigate whether the same kinds of treatments that help substance abusers kick their habits can also help obese people control their appetites. We’ll hunt methods to preserve muscle function as people age, and much more.

“We plan to build on the excellence of a creative writing program that already gets 500 applicants for 12 spots annually. We’ll invest in expertise in mapping social networks to help predict how disease spreads and to more accurately count the homeless. And we’ll further develop our respected expertise on Africa to increase understanding of a continent that is home to many of the world’s fastest-growing economies.”

The resultant is that MFA@FLA will make two hires and possibly also receive some ancillary benefits.

In the proposal that I sent, a “data” distillation of our program, I was able to write, “Our graduates have published 161 books with 103 publishers, hold positions at 11 publishing houses or magazines, and teach at 35 universities.”

It worked. This program thanks these alumni.

Testimonials

Eve Adamson (MFA, 1992)
It’s been a big year for me professionally with many books published via my work as a collaborator: Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book  in February; three books in April—Supermodel YOU with supermodel Sarah Deanna, Baby Steps with actress Elisabeth Rohm, and  The Fast Metabolism Diet with celebrity nutritionist Haylie Pomroy (my fifth New York Times best seller and the first to hit #1 on the “Advice and Miscellaneous” list); then there was Skinnygirl Solutions with TV personality Bethenny Frankel in August, and yet to come, The 1:1:1 Diet  with nutritionist Rania Batayneh in December. Coming up next year: The Wahls Protocol with Dr. Terry Wahls to be published in March 2014; Jennifer’s Way, a celiac disease memoir by actress Jennifer Esposito; an as-yet-unnamed cleanse book with a celebrity cleanse specialist; and a few more with contracts not yet signed but imminent. It sounds like a lot, but because I’ve cut way back on the magazine articles and all the other little time-sucking projects, it actually feels leisurely. Oh, and I also got married in Niagara Falls in June to the man who has lived with me and helped me raise my kids for the last ten years. (Because you have to shake things up every decade or so?) My beautiful toddler granddaughter was the flower girl. We honeymooned for 10 days in Jamaica.

Jay Atkinson (MA, 1982)
With my son Liam enjoying his first year at the University of Maine, “Dad” is over-scheduling to get over the shock of his empty nest. Currently, I am writing a narrative nonfiction book under contract with Globe Pequot, detailing a nearly forgotten event in early colonial history. On March 15, 1697, Abenaki warriors, incited by the French, raided the English frontier settlement of Haverhill, Massachusetts. They killed several people, including children, and took thirteen captives, among them 39-year-old Hannah Duston and her infant, Martha. After witnessing her infant’s murder a short distance from the settlement, Duston resolved to exact her revenge. Two weeks into her captivity, she and two other captives, a 51-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy, killed several of the Abenaki, including women and children, and made their escape. 

In addition to the untitled Hannah Duston book, I have completed a work of fiction, The Tree-Stand, which contains six novellas detailing the effects of the recent economic breakdown on blue-collar folks in the cold hard country north of Boston. My agent, Anthony Mattero of Foundry Literary + Media in New York, is shopping the manuscript. I have reviewed Peter Ormer’s new story collection, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, and Ethan Hauser’s novel, The Measures Between Us, for The Boston Globe, and my personal essay, on the joys of pond hockey, appeared November 10th in The Boston Globe magazine’s winter travel issue. I also teach writing at Boston University and keep busy training to play in occasional rugby tournaments with the Vandals RFC, an invitational side out of Los Angeles, California. Email me at jaya@bu.edu or follow me on Twitter@atkinson_jay

Bill Beverly (MA, 1991, Ph.D., 1998)
Published stories in Conte Online (new) and Redux (a revival). Was tenured in April at Trinity University in D.C. and became English Program chair again, Grover Cleveland-style. Went to AWP in Boston and curated Death Blizzard 2013; went to Sewanee and drank the water and stumbled around the mountain. Crashed my car and lived to tell. Co-edited the anthology Old Flame: From the First 10 Years of 32 Poems, published in spring by WordFarm, and promptly left the business. Am readying a novel called Dodgers, about a gangland boy on a trip to Wisconsin, for curtseying about this winter.

Diana Smith Bolton (MFA, 2009)
I’m a proposal writer/manager for an information technology company in Arlington, Virginia. It’s not poetry, but it’s good to write for a living. I recently placed a poem from William’s workshop in CHEST, published by the American College of Chest Physicians. District Lit (DistrictLit.com) is still going strong and will be at AWP 2014. We would love to see submissions from Gators.

David Caplan (MFA, 1993)
Last fall I enjoyed a Fulbright Lectureship in American Literature at the University of Liège in Belgium. Back in the States, I received the Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry from the Virginia Quarterly Review for my sequence, “Observances.” In January Oxford University Press will publish my monograph, Rhyme’s Challenge: Hip Hop, Poetry, and Contemporary Rhyming Culture

Claire Eder (MFA, 2013)
I am currently finishing my first semester in Ohio University’s poetry PhD program. I read some poems at a reading in the old mental hospital, which sits on top of the tallest hill in the city, at night with vultures on the roof. My translation of French poet Marie-Claire Bancquart has been nominated for the 2013  Best of the Net anthology. The most exciting thing is that before I left Gainesville I got a cat and brought a bunch of Florida fleas to the Midwest.

Rebecca Evanhoe (MFA, 2013)
In May, I graduated from MFA@FLA, and my story “Sort by Kind” appeared online at vice.com. Coming out in 2014: “They Were Awake” will appear in Harper’s. “Systems” will appear in Gigantic Worlds, an anthology of flash science fiction. “The Red Hands of the Beet Cook” will appear in Bat City Review. I am gainfully employed at Shadow Health, a Gainesville start-up.

Michele Pizarro Harman (MA, 1989)
Since my Masters Degree from UF about 24 years ago (I left the very summer they began their MFA program), several journals and online venues have published my poems: Quarterly West, Antioch Review, Midwest Quarterly, Mississippi Mud, Sycamore Review, Miriam’s Well, 3Lights Quarterly, Berry Blue Haiku,  among others. My full-length manuscript has been a semi-finalist for the Walt Whitman and a finalist for the National Poetry Series. One of my three chapbooks  was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition. And, one of my poems was shortlisted in the Fish Poetry Publishing Series. In addition to teaching elementary for the past 12 years, I also worked as the Senior Editor for Berry Blue Haiku one year (haiku written for children by adults).

A few years ago, I won a contest sponsored by the local symphony. They did a program honoring Darwin and St. Saens’ Carnival of the Animals. I wrote a poem for the “Aquarium” movement and got to read it in front of an audience of 700 just after the symphony played—so much pure fun.

My family and I currently moved back to the town in which my husband and I were raised. I work as a Special Education Resource teacher in the school district that raised me. We have four children, ages 7—20, two boys and two girls.

I have spent so much money in poetry contests, I should just plain buy Penguin. If anyone knows anyone who would love to read any of my four manuscripts for fun or otherwise, please do let me know.

Ric Hoeben (MFA, 2007)
Ric Hoeben now lives in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. He ascribes to Harry’s slogan: “Teaching, real teaching, is—or ought to be—a messy business.” His most recent fiction 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
Michael Hofmann’s versions of Gottfried Benn—Impromptus: Selected Poems and Some Prose—are out from FSG and Faber. On a rare alliterative jag (“a vulgar effect”) he has written about Jonathan Franzen’s Karl Kraus in the New York Review of Books and the life of Basil Bunting for the London Review of Books. He is writing about Bertolt Brecht for the T.L.S., Karen Solie for the L.R.B., and introducing John Berryman’s Dream Songs for a centenary Berryman edition. More translations and a book of his review-essays, called Where Have You Been? loom, as Berryman would say, cagily. He currently has both a new passport and a new visa, but knows they won’t last.

Rachel Khong (MFA, 2011)
Still at Lucky Peach, still (mostly) in San Francisco, but this year’s surprising-est thing was I bought a cabin in the woods: a former grow house I’ve been fixer-uppering, slowly coaxing into writing-getaway shape. Interested in retreating amidst redwoods in exchange for light carpentry? E-mail me! (No, seriously.)  

Noelle Kocot (MFA, 1995)
My sixth book of poems, Soul in Space, is now out from Wave Books. Just trying to be free in the wilds of New Jersey. I teach.

David Leavitt
A new novel is out (The Two Hotel Francforts). Another book is in the earliest stages of becoming. A new dog, Toby, has just had his first birthday. I am going to India for the first time since 2004 (or have gone to India for the first time since 2004, depending on when this appears on the website).

William Logan
My most recent book of poems, Madame X (Penguin), appeared in fall, 2012; and I have a new book of criticism, Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure (Columbia University Press), due out in the spring.  I’ve had poems in the past year in Battersea Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Cincinnati Review, Hudson Review, New England Review, New Republic, Parnassus, Southwest Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Yale Review.  I’ve published a long essay titled “Lowell’s Skunk, Heaney’s Skunk” in Salmagundi, and shorter essays titled “Henry James by the Pacific” and “Against Aesthetics” in the New Criterion and “A List of Don’ts” in Poetry, as well as the winter and spring verse chronicles in the New Criterion and two reviews in the New York Times Book Review.  Last summer I was among the faculty at the West Chester Poetry Conference, and last spring I received the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry from the Sewanee Review and the Staige D. Blackford Prize for Nonfiction from the Virginia Quarterly Review.  I read at the University of the South and at the George Mason Fall for the Book Festival.

Randall Mann (MFA, 1997) 
My third collection of poems, Straight Razor, was published by Persea Books in late 2013; The Rumpus selected it as the Poetry Book Club pick for November 2013. Poetry awarded me its J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize. I published poems in Poetry, Salmagundi, The Rumpus, Compose, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day series. I published little essays in Pleiades and Ron Slate’s On the Seawall.  I have now lived in San Francisco for fifteen years.

John L. Sheppard (MFA, 1994)  
My novel No Brass, No Ammo was accepted for publication by Moonshine Cove Publishing on Jan. 8.

Ryan Ruff Smith (MFA, 2015)
In July, I self-released my second EP of original songs, Wildered & Westered, on the website Bandcamp. Thanks to a stroke of luck and the strangeness of the Internet, my band saw our first vinyl release in December, a 7-inch single that came out in Germany, of all places, via Firestation Records. In terms of writing—real writing—I’ve been gathering my resources to start work on my MFA thesis in earnest.

Alexandra Teague (MFA, 1998) 
My second book of poetry, The Wise and Foolish Builders, is still forthcoming from Persea in spring 2015. In the meantime, poems from it, and newer work, will appear in The Missouri Review, Green Mountains Review, Mid-American Review, Barrow Street, Subtropics, and elsewhere. I continue to be an editor for Broadsided Press and Assistant Professor of Poetry at University of Idaho—where I am also faculty advisor for Fugue, and am working with colleagues in art, music, and dance on a collaborative project (the BASK Collective) exploring societal projections and sources for empowerment for women in the arts.

Chris Tusa (MFA, 2000)   
During the last year, my second novel, In the City of Falling Stars, was selected as first runner-up for the William Faulkner Novel in Progress Award. Two of my short stories, “Mean Blood” and “Neighborhood Association,” were selected by Robert Olen Butler as finalists for The Southeast Review’s World’s Best Short-short Story Contest, and my collection of short stories, Mean Blood, was selected as a semi-finalist for Black Lawrence Press’s Fiction Chapbook Contest. Also, two of my short stories were recently included in New South.

toptop