Archive | March 2013

140 Characters

“140 Characters,” “A new short story in honor of the professor who told me a short story should never, ever have more than 3,” by faculty member Liam Callanan, is online at New Haven Review.


The old nun, Agnes, who keeps to herself.

The old nun’s friend, Frieda, because even old nuns who keep to themselves keep at least one friend and that’s who Frieda is, and why not, because she, too, is an old nun but also a former one, and was happy to drive over this fine summer evening and help Agnes root around the front yard looking for Joseph, who’s not a nun but a saint, or the plastic replica of one, buried upside down somewhere here in front of the convent, the two old women are sure of it, because the building is for sale and tradition holds that this is what you do: hire realtor, plant sign, bury Joseph, hello buyer.

Suzanne, who doesn’t go to church anymore—Sundays are for open houses—but happily retweets the odd biblical passage she comes across and keeps a trunkful of St. Josephs rattling around in her car to give to clients: hey, you never know….

Her clients, the nuns, specifically Mary Pat and Mary Grace, two of the three women remaining at the old convent in the inner city, who are wondering when Agnes, the third, is going to come back from that walk she claimed she was taking, what that highpitched sound is, whether their hearing aid batteries need replacing, who will pay for that, and if they really should ask Hector to bury the statue of St. Joseph in the yard, because they haven’t yet.  Read More…

Eighth Stage of Love

“Eighth Stage of Love,” a poem by Laura Van Prooyen (poetry, ’10) appears in the current issue of the Boston Review.


Tell me I am not the only one
            who saw the hawk in the tree.  Who saw

the bird’s swift descent.  Once you said
            you wanted to be my adventure.  Tell me

now.  Here, where shade is scarce.  Where
            the sidewalk is burning and dogs

walk with purpose.  Remember when you found me
            by the lake and we heard the rain?

How close it came but never reached us?  Tell me
            it reached us. […]

Read the entire poem in the spring 2013 issue of the Boston Review.  Laura is the author of Inkblot and Altar (2006, Pecan Grove Press).

Straight Through the Heart

“Straight Through the Heart,” an essay by faculty member Dean Bakopoulos, appears in the New York Times Book Review.


As each semester begins at Grinnell College, a small liberal arts school nestled in the Iowa prairie, I get numerous e-mails from students pleading for a spot in my fiction workshop. The wait list is long, and as much as I’d love to take credit for the course’s popularity, I’m learning it’s less about the teacher and more about the way fiction writers approach the teaching of literature.

Many of these students aren’t English majors — in our dynamic department, majors tend to geek out on theory and critical reading courses from the start. And unlike most M.F.A. students I’ve taught, these undergraduates tend not to consider writing a career choice. They never ask for my agent’s e-mail.

Instead, each semester, I meet students who might be afraid of traditional English courses, but are drawn by the oddly warm and fuzzy phrase “creative writing.” In most academic work, we teach students to discuss other people’s ideas, before they attempt to formulate their own. We withhold the challenge of creation. But in creative writing, we read a few books and then we’re off. By semester’s end, a seeming mystery, I have a roomful of young people in love with reading stories and telling their own. Almost all of them write better sentences and cleaner paragraphs too.

I realized that what I’m really instructing them in is reading as a process of seduction. Consider how one falls in love: by fixating on certain attributes of the beloved. The way he looks in his brown cords. The way she flips her hair from her face. The flecks in her eyes, the twitch in his smile. We do not yet know the whole person, but we are lured by primal responses to a few details. We get to the classic final lines of “The Great Gatsby” or see Lily Briscoe finishing her painting in “To the Lighthouse,” and we want to go back to Page 1 and start again, to know the novel more deeply. …[Keep Reading]…

Dean is the author of the novel My American Unhappiness (2011, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

The Boss Who Fired Me During the Recession

“The Boss Who Fired Me During the Recession,” a poem by Bethany Pray (poetry, ’88) appears in the Spring 2013 issue of Ploughshares.

Describing her, I say, she’s a Modigliani face-wise
but when she walks in her custom-size narrow boots
she minces, or half-dances like a pony,

the sort of pony who is dear and a little silly
and wears a hat with a ribbon.
A little of this and a little of that – lacking a territorial integrity,

she slides vertiginously from apprehension to sourness to glee.
She told me she had a wandering eye as a child,
but in fact, she still does.

To think she doesn’t know how the one eye floats out
to the right, or that resulting air
of being wholly lost.

Frankly, Cubism is painful, as much for the viewed
as for the viewer:   the girlish gewgaws
and the monkish face above

and the fixed, unaligned eye.
She looked out at us with the other eye.
To her we were as paper, without dimension,

viewed as the Cyclops viewed Ulysses
and his men in the cave –
foreign, and a scourge.

Visit the magazine’s website for more from this issue of Ploughshares, including “The Complex Sentence,” a poem by faculty member Tony Hoagland.

The Country and the City

“The Country and the City,”  a story by Denise Delgado (fiction, ’10) appears online at Hinchas de Poesía.


In the beginning I died to see a movie. I’d never seen one. Where we lived was all farms. Before we married, my husband came to my parents’ house and we’d sit in the living room and talk. Domingo was always a tremendous talker. He harvested pineapple as a kid and he was built like a tree trunk. His shoulders looked like they would burst through his suit. And while he talked I imagined he was projecting a movie out of his mouth. Moonlight from the window hit the wall across from him. While he talked and talked and talked and talked I looked at the wall and imagined his mouth played a man and a woman kissing. Or a woman running from houses to beach. Or a woman writing by machine. Honestly, I don’t remember.

How did the other Beatríz and I end up living together?

After we got married my husband was a lawyer. Practically a lawyer. He worked for this political man named Arturo Betancourt. They’d go out to dark bars to smoke and scheme against both Castro and Batista. Domingo always came home saying he was the only muerto de hambre in the party—the only one dying of hunger. The only poor one. So I’d starch his one white suit so nice you thought he put on a new one every single day.

Read More…


A clip about happiness from Kevin (Mc) McIlvoy’s lecture “Focalization,” given at the winter 2013 residency.

McIlvoy is the author of The Complete History of New Mexico: Stories (2004, Graywolf). Visit the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers website to purchase past lectures on compact disc or by instant download.

Visit us on Youtube at

Alumni Conference Scholarship Announcement

Two generous alums who want to see you at the conference this summer have provided additional scholarship funds. In addition to the plentiful scholarships we began with, we have an additional unrestricted scholarship of $500, and an additional $250 for the recent graduate scholarship, a total of $700.

We have SIX SEVEN scholarships available this year for people attending the full-stay option:

  • Linda Dyer Memorial Scholarship (available only to poetry grads) – $500
  • 2 Distance Scholarships (available to people traveling 1,500+ miles) – $500; $750
  • 1 Recent Graduate Scholarships (available to grads after Winter 2009) – $500
  • 2  3 Alumni Scholarships (Unrestricted; open to all) – $500

To be eligible, you must attend the full-stay conference (July 28-August 3).

Please don’t hesitate if you require financial assistance to get to the conference!  Names will be drawn from a hat.  Applications for the Linda Dyer Scholarship will be drawn first, followed by the Recent Graduate Scholarships and Distance Scholarships.  Remaining scholarships will be drawn from all remaining scholarship requests.

If you have received a scholarship in the last three years, please give someone else the chance to benefit.


How to apply: Email your interest to: pegalford.pursell at gmail dot com

Please send the following information:

  • Name
  • Whether you graduated in poetry or fiction and what year
  • Your address (if you live 1,500 miles or more from St. Mary’s)

Include “Post MFA Conference Scholarship” in the title of your e-mail.

For more information about the conference, please visit the website at

Special request: please share the info with others since not everyone is on the listserv, Facebook, or checks the FOW blog. Also, the email list contains email addresses that are no longer functional for some alums, so you might urge others you know to send their current address to Robert Thomas at rthomas at kvn dot com, who kindly sends out email blasts, and to Amy Grimm in the MFA office, agrimm at warren-wilson dot edu.

Thank you, everyone.  We’re getting excited as the registrations are beginning to come in. Remember your deadline for that is April 30.

Peg Alford Pursell

Co-coordinator of 2013 Conference

The Stone Lion

“The Stone Lion,” a poem by Abby Wender (poetry, ’08) appears online at the New Orleans Review.

The lion on the family mausoleum lies still,
mossy-backed and obedient.

When no one watched I rode it.

I never thought of those buried,
only wanted to escape the living
who were so easily offended.

Beatrice hated the place
and liked to tease,
“When everyone you know is dead,
you won’t like it either.”  …[Keep Reading]…

6th Gift of Freedom Award to Diane Gilliam

Poet Diane Gilliam (poetry, ’01) has won the 6th Gift of Freedom Award from A Room of Her Own.


The $50,000 Gift of Freedom award is the largest of its kind for women writers. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s tenet that a woman must have money and a room of her own in order to write, the Gift of Freedom commissions a creative project by a promising woman writer/artist ready to restructure their life in order to complete their work within the two year period of the grant.

In her proposed grant project, a book of poems titled The Blackbirds Too, Gilliam will map the course of “identity accomplished by breakage of the structures a person might depend on to become someone:  work, knowledge, marriage, family, goodness.  The culture at large defines our first versions of such things and it seems inevitable that as we grow into ourselves the received definitions begin to fail us.”

Gilliam is also the author of One of Everything (Cleveland State University Press, 2003) and Kettle Bottom (Perugia Press, 2004).  More information about the award can be found at:


Meryl Streep, Bill Irwin & Friends, along with W.W. Norton, Four Way Books, Graywolf Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, MFA faculty, alumni, and friends will gather Monday, May 6 to support the CHS Scholarship Fund and celebrate Ellen Bryant Voigt’s 70th birthday.

The Friends of Writers First Annual Spring Gala in New York City

Manhattan Penthouse, 17th Floor
80 Fifth Avenue
New York City

Cocktails at 6:30 p.m.
Dinner at 7:30 p.m.
Dessert & Dancing from 9 to 11:00 p.m.

 Festive Dress  ~ Live and Silent Auctions  ~ Music

 Individual Tickets: $250  ~ Tables from $2000
Seating is limited

 Please Click Here to Purchase or Donate


For more information on the Gala, please go to

or email