Archive | August 2012

The Devil in Silver

Faculty member Victor LaValle‘s new novel The Devil in Silver is now available from Spiegel & Grau.

“I’m a big fan of monsters,” says Victor LaValle, who explores mental illness and supernatural themes in his new novel, “The Devil in Silver.” “Number one, they’re fun, and two, they’re such great ways to access the subconscious fears and beliefs of any group of people.”

“The Devil in Silver” takes place in a Queens mental institution, where inmates have grown terrified of a buffalo headed patient who roams the hospital attacking other patients at night. The novel opens as the protagonist, a big man called Pepper who works as a furniture mover, is committed involuntarily after he assaults three police officers. In a medicated haze, he bonds with other patients to try to solve the mystery of the ghoulish, homicidal patient they call “The Devil.”  …[Keep Reading]…

Bibliography Update Request

From alumni Patrick Donnelly (poetry, ’03):
It’s that time of year again: we’ll be adding updates to the Alumni Bibliography, so please email me about any recent book publications.
Include, in this order please:
(1) your full name
(2) the name of your book
(3) the name of your publisher
(4) year of publication, and
(5) specify poems, novel, short fiction, nonfiction, etc. (You may also include books such as anthologies that you have edited.)
(6) the year and genre in which you graduated.
Please send updates to me at, and put ALUMNI BIBLIOGRAPHY in the subject line. If you know of publications by alumni who are not on the list, please encourage them to get in touch with me, or send me what information you have.
The alumni bibliography (currently updated twice a year) is accessible from a link on the WWC MFA website:
If you are unsure whether your new publication is included in the bibliography, please check it before sending me the information.
Thanking you in advance,

Alix Ohlin on Synesthesia

Faculty member Alix Ohlin discusses seeing books in color at Small Demons:

I’ve always had a mild case of it: the presence of color in places it doesn’t belong.  It was strongest in childhood.  I often saw colored shapes when listening to music, and the days of the week were firmly associated with various hues—Tuesdays were blue, Wednesdays green, Thursdays red.

I didn’t choose what I saw, and the images were often as perplexing to me as they’d be to the next person.  This, for example, is what the sound of a siren looked like to me as a kid.  If I was walking around my neighborhood and heard a fire engine in the distance, a black keyhole would hover before my eyes:

Maybe (probably) this makes me sound insane.  If so, don’t worry.  Most of my synesthesia is gone now; I understand that this fading away is normal in adults.

Where it remains is in my writing.  My books have colors to me, even though while I’m writing them they only exist, in a literal sense, as black Times New Roman on a white MS Word background.  Often the colors guide me toward the finished version...[Keep Reading]…

Alix is the author of Inside (2012, Knopf).

From the Program Photo Archives

Program founder Ellen Bryant Voigt with fellow poet and faculty member Heather McHugh (photo undated)

Alumni Updates

Patrick Donnelly (poetry, ’03): Patrick’s diptych, “One and a Half Poems,” appears in the current issue of Plume:

In Which I Explain Why I Set the Fire

AAAWell it began with a microburst from the North when the moon
was hot and bright on the Twenty-Sixth of the Fifth Month.
AAAThe first obstacle that wind met was the top of a White Pine
in the Neighbor of the Right’s yard, which it shoved aslant
AAAthe transformer with a flash, killing the a/c for three days
and spoiling the fish. The Other White Pine, its mate,
AAAthe one I think of as male, didn’t break. But afterward every time
I walked to the mailbox I had to say “One Broken, One Whole,”
AAAand lift my hands over my head, whether I liked it or not...[Keep Reading]…


Alumni Updates

Susan Sterling (fiction, ’92): Susan’s essay “El Pocito” appears in the summer 2012 issue of Under the Sun, a “national literary journal exclusively dedicated to the publication of creative non-fiction.”

To order copies, please visit the magazine’s website.


Dean Bakopoulos on American Unhappiness

Faculty member Dean Bakopoulos was recently interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio about his new book, My American Unhappiness (2012, Mariner Books).

Listen to the full interview here

How Literature Saved My Life

Faculty member David Shields’ new book How Literature Saved My Life is now available for pre-order.  The book will be released February 5, 2013 from Knopf.

Setting Poetry to Music

Warren Wilson alumna Marcia Pelletiere (poetry, ’93) and her a cappella group “The Accidentals” have recorded a number of poem-songs that fit verse to music.

Visit their website to listen to “The Mermaid,” with lyrics from the poem, “Concerto” by Eleanor Wilner, along with songs based on poems by e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Carl Sandburg, and others.

Sarah Stone at Why There are Words

Faculty member Sarah Stone will read Thursday,September 13th at the Why There are Words Literary Reading Series.  The reading will take place from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Studio 333 in Sausalito, CA.  Visit Why There are Words for more information.

In the meantime, you can read Sarah’s interview for the series:

Your use of colors in your writing is so powerful. What is your philosophy behind how and why you use color?

SS:  Like you, I’m both a visual artist and a writer. My undergraduate degree is in painting, and I’m still fascinated by color and shape. My paintings were primarily huge and full of animals: peacocks, aardvarks, poison arrow frogs, wild pigs who’d thought they were rocks until they woke up. They became more and more narrative as I went on. Finally I just began to write. My early drafts aren’t visual at all though. And they don’t have any plot worth mentioning. It’s all people eating, having sex, and talking about politics. Worse, agreeing about politics. Full of exposition and explanation. I’m doing it again in my new book. This very morning, the characters were in a giant industrial kitchen, ostensibly working to solve the problems of world hunger, actually setting the scene for sexual intrigue and betrayal and braising vegetables. Sooner or later, these people are going to have to stop cooking and talking and do something. If this were someone else’s draft, I might say, “These characters are in a situation, but they’re not yet in a predicament.” When I was a brand-new writer, I wrote gleefully; now I see all the problems as I work. Nonetheless, my early drafts are intractable. I have to follow them through anyway. Maybe in the third or eighth draft, something will happen. Meanwhile, no clock is ticking. My characters are making ratatouille...[Keep Reading]…

Sarah is the author of The True Sources of the Nile: A Novel (2002, Doubleday) and coauthor of Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers (2004, Longman) with Ron Nyren.