Hollins Appoints Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing

brownHollins University has named author and professor Carrie Brown as distinguished visiting professor of creative writing. She will join the Hollins faculty in August.

Brown is the author of five novels, including The Rope Walk (Pantheon Books, 2007), Confinement (Algonquin Books, 2004), The Hatbox Baby (Algonquin, 2000), Lamb in Love (Algonquin, 1999), and Rose’s Garden (Algonquin, 1998), and a collection of short stories, The House on Belle Isle (Algonquin, 2002). Her short fiction has appeared in such journals as One Story, Glimmer Train, The Georgia Review, and The Oxford American, and she regularly reviews fiction for major newspapers. Her work has been translated into several languages, and she has read at literary festivals, libraries, bookstores, and colleges and universities across the country.

Brown is a two-time winner of the Library of Virginia Book Award and a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. In 2009, The Rope Walk was selected by the Iowa Public Library as the “All Iowa Reads” book and as the “Lynchburg, Virginia Reads” book by the Lynchburg Public Library.

Brown earned a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Virginia and is currently associate professor of English and Margaret Banister Writer-in-Residence at Sweet Briar College, where she teaches creative writing courses in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. She also serves as coordinator of international programs for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a year-round residential working retreat center for visual artists, writers, and composers.

Brown succeeds David Huddle, who has served as distinguished visiting professor of creative writing at Hollins since 2009. The professorship is a one-year, full-time, renewable position.


Will Schutt M.F.A. ’09 Wins Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition

schuttPoet Will Schutt, who received his MFA in creative writing from Hollins University in 2009, has been named a winner in the 2012 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition, the longest-running poetry prize in the United States.

The competition’s judge, prize-winning and critically acclaimed poet Carl Phillips, chose Schutt’s manuscript, Westerly, for the award. Yale University Press will publish Westerly in April 2013.

Schutt’s poems and translations appear in Agni, FIELD, Harvard Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He has also received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Stadler Center for Poetry, and the James Merrill House. He holds a BA from Oberlin College and resides in Wainscott, New York.

Awarded since 1919, the Yale Series of Younger Poets celebrates the most prominent new American poets by bringing the work of these artists to the attention of the larger public. Earlier winners of the prize include Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, and Robert Hass.

 


Hollins Graduate Natasha Trethewey Named U.S. Poet Laureate

tretheweyHollins University alumna and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey was named Poet Laureate for 2012-13 by the Library of Congress on Thursday.

Trethewey, the daughter of Hollins English professor Eric Trethewey, is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta and served as the 2012 Louis D. Rubin Writer-in-Residence at Hollins. The Hollins Theatre staged an  adaptation of her book of poems, “Bellocq’s Ophelia,”earlier this year.

Trethewey is a native of Gulfport, MS and earned her Master of Arts degree in English and creative writing from Hollins in 1991. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007 for her collection, “Native Guard,” which pays tribute to African American soldiers who were stationed near the city during the Civil War. She has garnered numerous other prestigious writing awards and was named Mississippi’s Poet Laureate in January, a four-year appointment she will continue to hold.

Trethewey, the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate, will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season with a reading of her work on Thursday, September 13.

In announcing the appointment, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, said, “Natasha Trethewey is an outstanding poet/historian in the mold of Robert Penn Warren, our first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Her poems dig beneath the surface of history—personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago—to explore the human struggles that we all face.”

Trethewey succeeds Philip Levine as Poet Laureate and joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position including W. S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.

She is the author of three poetry collections, including “Native Guard,” (2006), winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002); and “Domestic Work” (2000). Her newest collection of poems, “Thrall,” is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Trethewey is the author of a nonfiction book, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2010).

The Poet Laureate is selected for a one-year term by the Librarian of Congress. The choice is based on poetic merit alone and has included a wide variety of poetic styles.

Photo by Jon Rou


Jackson Center for Creative Writing to Co-Sponsor Largest Literary Conference in North America

jacksoncenterThe Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins University is joining the National Book Critics Circle, the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, and a number of other prominent organizations in sponsoring the 2013 Annual Conference & Bookfair of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP).

The conference will take place March 6-9 in Boston,  highlighting over 1,900 authors, editors, teachers, and publishers and including 520 literary events. Eleven thousand people are expected to attend. Among the featured presenters are Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott, New York Times best-selling author Augusten Burroughs, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Don DeLillo, Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder, and many others.

“We have never before assembled such an impressive range of distinguished authors,” said AWP Executive Director David Fenza. “We are excited that AWP’s conference continues to grow in prestige while we provide a growing audience for writers and publishers.”

The Jackson Center is the sole sponsor of the AWP’s bookfair, an annual showcase of over 600 exhibitors and the nation’s largest marketplace for independent literary presses and journals, creative writing programs, writing conferences and centers, and literary arts organizations.  The bookfair will run concurrent to the conference and is open to all registered conference attendees, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

The Jackson Center for Creative Writing is home to Hollins’ esteemed undergraduate and graduate writing programs, which have produced dozens of writers of national and international acclaim.

AWP’s mission is to foster literary achievement, advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing. Founded in 1967, AWP supports nearly 50,000 writers, over 500 college and university creative writing programs, and 125 writers’ conferences and centers.


Will Shutt MFA ’09 Receives Starred Review in Publisher’s Weekly

schuttPoet Will Schutt, who earned his MFA in creative writing from Hollins University in 2009 and went on to win the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets competition last year, has received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly for his first collection of poetry, Westerly, published by Yale University Press.

Publisher’s Weekly is widely considered to be “the bible of the book business” and publishes approximately 8,000 pre-publication book reviews each year.

The review of Westerly notes, “The latest winner of the venerable Yale Younger Poets Prize turns out to be terse, well-traveled, resolutely unfashionable, and, finally, wise,” and concludes, “everything in [Westerly] heralds a seriously important career.”

Schutt’s poems and translations appear in Agni, FIELD, Harvard Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He has also received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Stadler Center for Poetry, and the James Merrill House.


Karen McElmurray Selected as Hollins’ Writer-in-Residence for 2014

mcelmurrayAward-winning fiction and creative nonfiction author Karen Salyer McElmurray has been named the 2014 Louis D. Rubin, Jr., Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University.

McElmurray’s memoir, Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey, won the Associated Writers and Writing Programs Award in Creative Nonfiction and was listed as a “Notable Book” by the National Book Critics Circle. Her other works include the novels Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven, a recipient of the Lillie Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, and The Motel of the Stars, which was nominated for the Weatherford Award for Fiction, earned Lit Life’s “Novel of the Year” citation, was Oxford American magazine’s “Critics Choice,” and was part of the Linda Bruckheimer Series in Fiction from Sarabande Books. She has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.

McElmurray is currently completing a novel entitled Wanting Inez, and is editing a collection of essays called Writing Into the Forbidden, to be published by Ohio University Press in 2014.

McElmurray holds a Master of Arts degree in creative writing from Hollins as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing from the University of Virginia and a doctorate from the University of Georgia, where she studied American literature and fiction writing. She is a member of the faculty in the Master of Fine Arts programs at Murray State University and West Virginia Wesleyan College, and previously taught at Georgia College and State University, Berry College, and Lynchburg College.

Hollins established its writer-in-residence program in 1961. The university paid tribute to Rubin, who founded the university’s creative writing program and enjoyed a distinguished career as a professor, publisher, and author, by naming the residency in his honor in 2000. Through the years, the program has welcomed Nobel Prize winners William Golding and Derek Walcott; two Pulitzer Prize recipients, current U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and Henry Taylor, both Hollins alumni; former Virginia Poet Laureate Kelly Cherry; and acclaimed authors Flannery O’Connor, Robert Penn Warren, and Eudora Welty


Hollins Writers Karen Osborn and Shelby Smoak Win Gold IPPY Awards

centervilleKaren Osborn, this year’s Louis D. Rubin, Jr., Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University and a 1979 Hollins graduate, and Shelby Smoak M.A. ’99  have each received a 2013 Independent Publisher Book Award gold medal for their latest work.

The “IPPY” Awards, launched in 1996 and designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers, honored Osborn in the Popular Fiction category for her novel, Centerville (West Virginia University Press), and Smoak took top prize in the Autobiography/Memoir III (Personal Struggle/Health Issues) category for Bleeder: A Memoir (Michigan State University Press).

Set in the summer of 1967, Centerville (which shared the gold with All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta) is the story of how the bombing of a small Midwestern town’s drugstore alters the lives of the community’s residents. The book is based on an incident that occurred during Osborn’s own youth and explores how a small town copes with a senseless act of violence.

Osborn is the author of three other novels: Patchwork, Between Earth and Sky, and The River Road. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in journals nationwide, including The Southern Review, Kansas Quarterly, Clapboard House, Poet Lore, Wisconsin Review, New England Watershed, and The Centennial Review. Her grants and awards include fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and a Notable Book of the Year Award from The New York Times.

In Bleeder, Smoak, a hemophiliac, discovers at the start of his college career that he has been infected with HIV during a blood transfusion. This devastating news leads him to see his world from an entirely new perspective, one in which life-threatening illness is perpetually just around the corner.

Smoak’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in journals and magazines such as Northern Virginia Review, Clues, Cucalorus, Juice, The Crutch, New Thought Journal, Cities and Roads, and Coastal Plains Poetry.


Hollins Debuts Online Writing Classes in Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

tinkermtnHollins University is giving both novice and practiced writers the opportunity to grow their craft through the flexibility of online learning as the school nationally recognized for its creative writing program launches the Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop/Online (TMWW/O) this fall.

The program’s inaugural session begins September 8 and continues through November 10.

Open to all adults, TMWW/O will offer 10-week courses taught exclusively by published authors who earned a master’s degree in the Hollins creative writing program. Enrollment for each course is capped at 15 students in order to ensure each student receives quality and comprehensive feedback.

“Each class focuses on generating and revising new work, with an emphasis on the writer’s voice, form, and metaphor,” says Program Director Luke Johnson M.F.A. ‘09, who teaches at the University of Mary Washington and is the author of the 2011 poetry collection, After the Ark. His poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, Poetry Northwest, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, and the Best New Poets anthology.

Johnson adds that classes are designed to foster participation from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. “Whether you’re just starting your first poem or adding to an already extensive oeuvre, the online classroom offers an opportunity for in-depth engagement with accomplished writers and peers, and the flexibility to access weekly writing assignments, discussion boards, and craft lectures. Whether through a chat room, a threaded discussion, or a live interaction, the online format provides a multitude of ways to improve as a writer.”

TMWW/O will offer the following courses during the fall of 2013:

  • The Art of Writing Fiction. Students focus on acquiring the tools necessary to create their own writing and edit it for publication, from creating compelling characters to crafting complete stories with something at stake. Students share their own writing for peer review in a digital workshop environment led by CL Bledsoe M.F.A. ‘08, an eight-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of five novels and four poetry collections.
  • Poetry: Starting with the Line. This course, taught by Johnson, is designed to benefit both the beginning and the practiced poet, and to provide an opportunity for each to develop his or her craft while assembling a portfolio of new work. The course starts with an understanding of the poetic line and uses this to explore the fundamentals of poetry.
  • Creative Nonfiction: Tell It Slant. This class explores the art of the memoir and techniques for illuminating experience while also considering the narrator’s combined role of participant/observer. Constance Adler M.A. ‘99, whose book My Bayou: New Orleans Through the Eyes of a Lover was published in 2012, is the instructor.

 


Two Hollins Alumni Among Best New Poets for 2013

poets2013Meighan L. Sharp M.F.A. ’11 and Chad Temples M.F.A. ’08 are two of the 50 emerging writers whose poems have been chosen for publication in the annual anthology, Best New Poets.

This year, nearly 4,000 poems were considered from nominations made by literary magazines and writing programs, as well as an Open Internet Competition. Typically, a group of four to five readers reviews each manuscript and recommends between 120 and 200 semi-finalists to Best New Poets’ guest editor, who selects the winners. Award-winning poet Brenda Shaughnessy, whose work has appeared in the Yale Review, the Boston Review, McSweeney’s, and Best American Poetry, was the anthology’s guest editor for 2013.

Sharp’s “Beyond Measure,” previously published in DIALOGIST, and Temples’ “Walking, Talking, Singing” earned the poets their inclusion among what Jazzy Danzinger of Best New Poets calls “our outrageously talented final 50.”

Best New Poets is currently published by Meridian and Samovar Press. Thanks to a partnership with the University of Virginia Press, the anthology is distributed through Ingram and Baker & Taylor directly to bookstores. Best New Poets is also available for purchase through various online outlets.


Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop/Online Introduces New Eight-Week Session

tinkermtnHollins University’s Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop/Online (TMWW/O) is returning this fall with three new eight-week workshops to help writers of all abilities grow their craft through online learning.

TMWW/O’s Fall 2014 session takes place September 29 – November 22. It features noncredit workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that are designed for writers eager to produce new work on a flexible schedule. The workshops are taught by published professionals who are all graduates of Hollins’ nationally recognized creative writing program.

Program Director Luke Johnson is excited about the changes TMWW/O is introducing with the fall session and their benefit to enrollees.

“We’ve reduced the duration of the workshops from ten weeks to eight based on feedback we received from our community of writers,” he explains. “We’ve also reduced the cost of the workshops from $750 to $500.”

Johnson adds that the workshops have been restructured to further enable participants to enjoy “lively conversation and immediate feedback.” He notes that enrollment for each workshop will continue to be limited to 15 students to ensure students can fully engage with faculty and fellow writers.

TMWW/O will offer the following workshops this fall:

  • Making Poems. Writing new poems is the goal of this workshop taught by Will Schutt, winner of the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets award. It will include formal writing exercises. Students will have ample opportunity to share and discuss their writing with their peers, and address questions of craft with the instructor. Participants will also read and consider works by contemporary American poets.
  • Writing Your Life: Creative Nonfiction. Students will read the writing of acclaimed creative nonfiction writers such as Annie Dillard and produce their own personal narratives. Participants will discover their own writing and each other’s while fostering a community centered on careful observation, critical encouragement, and crafting compelling stories. This workshop is taught by Luke Johnson, TMWW/O program director and author of the 2011 poetry collection, After the Ark.
  • Forays in Storytelling: Elements of Short Fiction. Part reading, part writing, and all investigation, this workshop will explore what makes a good story. Led by Michael Overa, who has taught writing throughout the Seattle area and whose work has appeared in the Portland Review, Quiet, Pindeldyboz and the Denver Syntax, among others, Forays in Storytelling will challenge students to write and discuss original short fiction beyond their self-imposed boundaries.

“By connecting writers across the country,” Johnson says, “we hope to allow the writing and sharing of creative work to continue well after each session has ended. With an emphasis on voice, form, and metaphor, our goal is to help you become a better writer.”

The deadline for registering for the TMWW/O Fall 2014 session is September 22.