The debut novel by 2005 MFA Program alum Amanda Coplin continues to garner praise. "The Orchardist," published by HarperCollins in early August 2012, has already landed on Publisher Weekly's top ten for fall list; O Magazine's top ten for fall 2012; and received rave reviews from The Washington Post, Seattle Times and Star Tribune. Coplin was also chosen for Barnes and Nobles "Discovr Great New Writers Series" for 2012. While in the program, Coplin studied with Edelstein-Keller Chair Charles Baxter. Baxter calls the book "patiently beautiful" and notes that "it does not feel like a first novel; it feels like a life's work." Coplin began the book while in the MFA Program. She will be on an extensive book tour throughout the fall and will be a guest during our "First Books" reading in March 2013.
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During our annual end of the year tally rally, Creative Writing discovered an interesting stat: from summer 2011 to spring 2013, we will see a total of 18 books published by MFA program alumni and current students. 18 books! Some are debuts, some are second books, but, really, 18 books?! We wonder if even the glittery and angel-dusted Iowa Workshop can claim that. Let's do a small run down: Amanda Coplin, The Orchardist, due from Harper Collins in August 2012. The Mermaid of Brooklyn, Amy Shearn, spring 2013 (Simon and Schuster). what have you done to our ears to make us hear echoes?, Arlene Kim (Milkweed, July 2011). Unbored, Elizabeth Foy Larsen (Bloomsbury, October, 2012). Uncle Janice, Matt Burgess (Doubleday, spring 2013). The Peripatetic Coffin, Ethan Rutherford (Ecco Press, fall 2013). Use Your Words, Kate Hopper (Viva Editions, 2012). Karen Rigby, Chinoiserie (Ahsahta Press, 2012). Friends Like Us, Lauren Fox (Knopf, 2012). Nate Slawson, Panic Attack USA! (YesYes Books, 2011). Butcher Tree, Feng Sun Chen (Black Ocean, 2012). Mother Substance, Sarah Fox (Coffee House Press, spring). And more and more and more.....Minnesota: we get the great writers.
MFA alums Arlene Kim (pictured) and Karen Rigby will be joined by Paul Metsa and Peter Geye for the sixth annual "First Books" event sponsored by the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English. Kim and Rigby have spectacular debut poetry collections: what have you done to make our ears hear echoes and Chinoiserie. Paul Metsa is a homegrown rock and roller who finally sat down to pen his memoir of life in music and on the road, Blue Highways. Peter Geye is a BA alum whose first novel Safe from the Sea is a tender and touching portrait of a family in pain. Thursday, March 22, 7 pm at the Weisman Art Museum. All authors will read and take part in a panel discussion on publishing the first book. FREE. Cosponsored by the Weisman Art Museum and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota.
2007 MFA Program alumna Alyson Sinclair has been named the new Publicity Director of McSweeney's, the behemoth online literary journal and publishing house founded by A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius author Dave Eggers, http://www.mcsweeneys.net/tendency
Alyson is a poet who worked as the MFA program Assistant on Edelstein-Keller Writer Series publicity and events. After graduation, she went to work in FSG's publicity department, which proved a launching pad to publicity position at venerable City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. Alyson was also a Graywolf intern while in the program. The MFA program strives to provide opportunities in publishing, events work, publicity and arts administration to our students. Alyson is just one of many talented writers who have found opportunities in the literary world after graduation.
The Creative Writing Program's annual Benefit for Hunger Reading will be held Tuesday, November 15, 7 pm in Coffman Theatre. This reading is hosted by Edelstein-Keller Professor of Creative Writing Charles Baxter, who will join faculty authors Julie Schumacher, Peter Campion, Maria Damon and Ray Gonzalez in reading their work for charity. The undergraduate winner of the "Benefit for Hunger Prize for Writing" will also read. The contest was judged by Charles Baxter. All proceeds benefit Second Harvest Heartland, the upper Midwest's largest food relief organization. The reading is free, with a suggested donation of $5 at the door; donations given to Second Harvest. Last year, we raised over $1500 for hunger relief. This reading will also mark new Assistant Professor Peter Campion's Twin Cities reading debut, so don't miss it!
In a little over a decade, our alums have published over 60 books with presses such as Doubleday, Harper's, Coffee House, Simon and Schuster and Knopf. They've won National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, Provincetown Fine Arts Fellowships, Stegners, and Rome Prizes. Current students are blazing out of the gate, too: we have not one, but two current MFAs publishing books with major presses this year: Mary Chen's first book of poetry will be out in January 2012 from Black Ocean and Sarah Fox will publish her second book, Mother Substance, with Coffee House Press in fall 2012. Our website has one of the most comprehensive alumni pages at the University of Minnesota (Alumni News and Notes) Please take a look at our new feature, "Alumni In-Depth," where we list specific alumni accomplishments along with "Life in the MFA" recollections: http://creativewriting.umn.edu/people/alumniindepth.html
Acclaimed poet Ronaldo Wilson will visit the Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday, October 19, for a free reading at the newly expanded Weisman Art Museum. The reading begins at 7:30 pm and will be followed by a reception and book sales at 8:30 pm. Wilson is the author of "Poems of the Black Object" and several other books. He has held fellowships at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Vermont Studio Center, Cave Canem, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Yaddo Corporation, and has had four poems nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is the recipient of the Cave Canem Prize for Poetry and is considered one of the finest young poets writing today.