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Creative Writing Program

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The Creative Writing Program is pleased to welcome our newest faculty member, Kim Todd!

Kim Todd photo

Kim is the author of three books: Sparrow (Reaktion, 2012); Chrysalis, Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis (Harcourt, 2007); and Tinkering with Eden, A Natural History of Exotics in America (W.W. Norton, 2001). Her work has appeared in Orion, River Teeth, and Sierra Magazine, among other places, and has received the PEN/Jerard Award and the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. She will be teaching literary nonfiction.


Welcome, prospective students! The application deadline for Fall 2015 admission to our MFA program is December 1, 2014.

Please click the "MFA Program" link to the left and select "Admissions" for details and instructions.



The Creative Writing Program Spring Newsletter has arrived! Check it out!

2014 Newsletter Cover

Creative Writing Program Spring Newsletter 2014


Ethan Rutherford (MFA alum 2009), author of the short story collection The Peripatetic Coffin, won The Minnesota Book Award, the Friends of American Writers Award (Chicago), and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Award. Many congrats!

ethan rutherford


Spring 2013 MFA Program Newsletter


We are happy to announce our incoming MFA Cohort for Fall 2014!

Please welcome writers: D. Allen, Jonathan Atkinson, Carolyn Byrne, Jonathan Damery, Megan Gette, Roy Guzman, Jackie Hilgert, Wei Chung Hsu, Veronica Kavass, Matthew Taylor, Jordan Thomas, and Tim Zila.

Student News

Victoria Scher will be teaching a CNF course called the "Travel Writer" at the Loft this summer.

Scott Parker's work can be found: in here (chapbook, Monkey Puzzle Press), Conversations with Ken Kesey (University Press of Mississippi), "Colored White" (essay, Sport Literate), and "Cougar Dreams" (essay, Clackamas Literary Review).

Kendra Atleework’s essay “Charade” was selected as a winner for the 2014 Intro Journals Award, and is forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review.

Elisabeth Workman’s ULTRAMEGAPRAIRIELAND is available for pre-order! TERRORISM IS WHAT WHALE, a poetry collaboration with Michael Sikkema, will be released by Grey Book Press in March. Recent prose, poems, and/or collaborations are forthcoming in Finery,Third Rail, Gesture, Stolen Island, and ON Contemporary Practice.

Carrie Lorig has reviewed Danniel Schoonebeek's book, American Barricade, at Entropy. A review of Steven Karl's Dork Swagger is forthcoming from The Southeast Review. An essay, "Myung Mi Kim, Poetic Circulatory Systems, and the Un-binding of Sense-Making / Sense Forcing," will be included in Despite the Possible: Fifteen Women Poets (University of Akron Press). A poem is forthcoming from Big Lucks.

Katie Rensch collaborated with U of M graduate film artist Jes Reyes to co-produce the video essay "A Mind of Winter." The moving image and essay will debut at The Southern Theater in Minneapolis in a July film festival.


Alumni News

Emily Bright (2008)'s radio feature "How Being a Poet Prepared Me to Be a Mother" was aired this month on the program Michigan Writers (Interlochen Public Radio) and on WXPR as part of their "Poets on Poetry" series. Find it here:

Mike Rollin (2007) has recent poems published or forthcoming in Water~Stone, POOL, and On the Commons. He also had a poem selected for “Arrivals & Departures at St Paul’s Union Depot,” a 3D poetry film installation that will be projected on the facade of the Union Depot during this fall's St. Paul Art Crawl.

Ethan Rutherford (2009) won a Minnesota Book Award for his collection The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories.

Norah Labiner (1996)’s novel Let the Dark Flower Blossom (Coffee House Press, 2013) was nominated for a 2014 Minnesota Book Award.

Chrissy Friedlander (2013) and Opal C. MCarthy (2011) both have fiction forthcoming in the Spring 2014 issue of The Pinch.

Edward McPherson (2011) has a story in the Gettysburg Review.

Holly Vanderhaar's (2010) essay, "Surrender," is a finalist for Creative Nonfiction's upcoming anthology of nonfiction Oh, Baby: True Stories About Tiny Humans.

Francine Marie Tolf (2006) has recently published a prose chapbook with Green Fuse Poetic Arts Press of Loveland, Colorado entitled "Shadow Town: Essays on Growing Up in Joliet, Illinois." She has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her essay, "Sheeba at Twenty.”

Faculty News

Julie Schumacher has a story in the current issue of Epoch magazine. She also sold her novel-in-progress, an academic satire provisionally entitled Dear Committee Members, to Doubleday. Her essay “Canyon,” published in Brain, Child magazine, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her essay “The Gristmill of Praise” was published by the Chronicle for Higher Education.

Ray Gonzalez's poetry and work as an anthologist is discussed in a chapter of Broken Souths: Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization by critic Michael Dowdy (University of Arizona Press).  His poetry is forthcoming in 99 Poems for the 99 Per Cent, edited by Dean Rader (University of San Francisco).  It also appears in the newly released New Border Writing (Texas A&M University Press) and The Cutbank Poetry Anthology:  Best of 50 Years (University of Montana).  His work is forthcoming in MiPOesias, Writing Disorder, The Soft Machinist, Malpais Review, The Bitter Oleander, and Caliban.

Peter Campion's third collection of poetry, El Dorado, is now out from the University of Chicago Press in fall 2013. Read the jacket copy review in the LA Times Poetry Shelf.

Charlie Baxter's story "Charity," which appeared in McSweeney's and which will also appear in his forthcoming collection, will be included in the Best American Short Stories 2014 edited by Jennifer Egan and Heidi Pitlor. His story "Bravery," first published in Tin House, appeared in Best American Short Stories 2013, edited by Elizabeth Strout. His essay, "What Happens in Hell," first published in an issue of Ploughshares edited by Patricia Hampl, will appear in Best American Essays 2013, edited by Cheryl Strayed. Charlie Baxter has also sold his new book, There's Something I Want You to Do, to Pantheon/Vintage. The book is a kind of decalogue, with five stories about virtues (Bravery, Loyalty, Chastity, Charity, and Forbearance) and five about vices (Lust, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Vanity).

Patricia Hampl was honored with the Dr. Matthew Stark Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Faculty Award April 17 at the College of Liberal Arts' Celebrate Faculty Excellence ceremony. The award recognizes Professor Hampl's distinguished writing, teaching, and service in this area, including her work establishing the Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship, which supports an MFA creative writing student working with the Human Rights Program as a writer-in-residence.

Madelon Sprengnether’s review of Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama is in press at the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. Her essay “Literature and Psychoanalysis” is forthcoming in the Routledge Handbook for Psychoanalysis in the Humanities and Social Sciences (2104). She served as a discussant for a paper by Gloria Levin titled “Haunted by Absence: The Transgenerational Roots of a Mother’s Projection, for the Minnesota Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and co-organized a public lecture by Professor Jeffrey Prager, UCLA, titled “The Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma: Recovering Humanity, Repairing Generations.” Her memoir, Great River Road: Memory, Aging and Reconciliation, will be published by New Rivers Press in Fall 2014.


Fall 2014 Readings/Events

Jeff Sharlet

7 pm, Thursday, October 2, Upson Room, Walter Library

Jeff Sharlet writes literary nonfiction about religion and culture in the U.S., notably in the books Sweet Heaven When I Die (2011), The Family (2008), and, with Peter Manseau, Killing the Buddha (2004). His latest work, Radiant Truths (2014), gathers works from American writers on the subject of spirituality.

“This book belongs in the tradition of long-form, narrative nonfiction best exemplified by Joan Didion, John McPhee [and] Norman Mailer. Sharlet deserves a place alongside such masters.” – Washington Post


Stacey D'Erasmo

7 pm, Tuesday, October 14, Weisman Art Museum

Novelist Stacey D’Erasmo is the author most recently of Wonderland (2014), the tale of a fortysomething female rock star on the comeback trail. She has published three other novels. D’Erasmo also wrote a 2013 work of nonfiction, The Art of Intimacy: part of Graywolf Press’s “Art of” series on the craft of writing, edited by Charles Baxter.

“D’Erasmo brings us inside the music and the musician’s psyche in this transfixing song of a self evolving through discovery, loss, and renewal.” – Booklist


John Berryman at 100

October 24-26, Elmer L. Andersen Library, West Bank

A conference celebrating the life and work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and longtime University of Minnesota professor John Berryman.

A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the poet John Berryman taught at the University of Minnesota from 1955 until his death in 1972. While at the U, Berryman published three major poetic works: Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (1956), 77 Dream Songs (1964), and His Toy, His Dream, His Rest (1968). The latter two were republished in 1969 as The Dream Songs, considered one of the most important collections of the 20th century. The conference will include readings featuring local and national poets, a panel discussion with Berryman’s former students, seminars discussing academic papers on Berryman, and more. Co-sponsored by the University Libraries. Free; registration required.


The Seventh Annual Benefit for Hunger, hosted by Charles Baxter and featuring Jess Row

7 pm, Monday, November 3, University Hall, McNamara Alumni Center

Free with suggested $5 donation to benefit Second Harvest Heartland

Guest reader Jess Row joins Creative Writing faculty readers to raise money for Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization. This is the Seventh Annual Hunger Relief Benefit hosted by novelist and professor Charles Baxter and the Creative Writing Program. Row is the author of the new novel Your Face in Mine (Riverhead), which imagines a white American man choosing plastic surgery to appear black. Row has published two story collections.


Jamaal May

7 pm, Wednesday, November 12, Upson Room, Walter Library

Jamaal May won the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books for his first book, Hum (2013). He’s published two poetry chapbooks: The God Engine and The Whetting of Teeth. He is founding editor of the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series.

“The melancholic hum of May’s tone lends gravity and heart to this debut collection…May’s work is skillful and nuanced in its surprising approach to the nature (and nurture) of identity.” – Los Angeles Review of Books


Spring 2014 Readings/Events

David Biespiel

7 pm, Wednesday, March 26, Weisman Art Museum

David is the founder and president of The Attic Institute, a haven for writers in Portland, OR. He's a contributor to American Poetry Review, Parnassus, Poetry, Slate, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Republic. Since 2002 he has been the columnist on poetry for The Oregonian. In 2005 he was named editor of Poetry Northwest. In 2008, he became a contributor to Politico‘s Arena, a cross-party, cross-discipline daily conversation about politics and policy among current and former members of Congress, governors, mayors, political strategists and scholars.


David Baker and Page Hill Starzinger

7 pm, Thursday, April 10, Weisman Art Museum

Page Hill Starzinger lives in New York City. She has worked as Copy Director at Vogue and Estee Lauder, and is currently Creative Director for Copy at Aveda. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Colorado Review, DENVER QUARTERLY, FENCE, Kenyon Review, Pleiades, Literary Imagination, VOLT, and many others. Her poem, "Series #22 (white)," was chosen by Tomaz Salamun for a broadside created by The Center for Book Arts, NYC, in 2008. Her chapbook, Un-Shelter, selected by Mary Jo Bang as winner of the Noemi Contest, was published in 2009. She is the author of VESTIGIAL (Barrow Street Press, 2013).

Among David Baker’s fourteen books are his most recent poetry collection, Never-Ending Birds (2009, W. W. Norton), winner of the 2011 Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize, and Talk Poetry: Poems and Interviews with Nine American Poets (2012, Arkansas). For his work, Baker has been awarded fellowships and grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Society of America, Ohio Arts Council, Society of Midland Authors, and others. He currently serves as Professor of English at Denison University where he holds the Thomas B. Fordham Chair of Creative Writing.


Gerald Vizenor

4:30 pm, Wednesday, April 30, Lind Hall 50S Suite

Gerald is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of more than twenty books on native histories, critical studies, literature, and poetry including The People Named the Chippewa, and Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance.



Fall 2013 Readings/Events

Bonnie Jo Campbell

7 pm, Thursday, October 3, University of Minnesota Bookstore.

Bonnie Jo Campbell


David Wojahn

Saturday, October 12, cosponsored with RainTaxi, reading at the Twin Cities Book Festival, State Fairgrounds, time TBA


Katherine Boo

7 pm, Tuesday October 15, location TBA, Esther Freier Lecture Series



Annual Benefit for Hunger Reading, hosted by Charles Baxter and featuring Robert Boswell, writers from the MFA program faculty and MFA students, Tuesday, October 29, 7 pm, University Hall, McNamara Alumni Center.

Daisy Fried and Joshua Weiner

7 pm, Thursday, November 7, Weisman Museum



Thomas Mallon

7 pm, Tuesday, November 19, Weisman Museum. Cosponsored with the Humphrey Center and the School of Journalism.


***Check the the Rain Taxi calendar for more local literary events.***

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