Tag Archive | Warren Wilson MFA

Colleen Abel on Writing Lessons

Alumna and current Joan Beebe Teaching Fellow at Warren Wilson College, Colleen Abel (poetry, ’04), discussing her approach to teaching poetry at a service-oriented institution is featured in the blog series “Writing Lessons” at Ploughshares

colleenabelRecently, poet and scholar Seth Abramson released a list on The Huffington Post called “The Top 200 Advocates for American Poetry.” The list included writers, teachers, publishers, founders of listservs and writing centers, and celebrity Friends of Poetry like Bill Murray and Patti Smith. Abramson didn’t define what he meant by advocacy, but I imagine he meant things like word-spreading, cheerleading, and trying to make poetry reach a wider audience—which most of us agree that poetry needs.

On the same day that Abramson published his list, I was participating in orientation activities at the school where I’ll be teaching this fall, Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. As I’ve heard a dozen times over the course of orientation, WWC is the only school in the country with an integrated work/service/learning program. In other words, students here spend 15 hours a week on a work crew. They are the college’s janitors, cooks, constructions workers, landscapers, foresters. On top of the work crew—and, of course, their studies—students have many, many hours of required service volunteering in the community, taking service classes, and attending issues workshops. (The other day my son tumbled through an intricate Asheville playground built in five days by WWC students).

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The Larry Levis Prize 2014

2014 Levis Prize of $10,000 for a First Book of Fiction
The Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipend is an award given to support a graduate of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers who is completing his/her first book. The Levis Stipend alternates between awards for poetry and for fiction and the 2014 award will be made to a fiction writer in the amount of $10,000. The current judge, a nationally-recognized fiction writer, will be announced at the time the award is made, in January 2014.Eligibility: The Levis Stipend is open only to alumni who have not yet published a full-length collection of fiction in a standard edition. A standard edition is defined as 150 or more pages in a print run of 1500 or more copies. Entrants to the competition must hold the MFA degree from Warren Wilson College prior to July 15, 2012, or from Goddard College prior to June 30, 1981.

Guidelines: An entry fee of $25 is required to process the application and should be made on-line via the donation page at friendsofwriters.org. Please note the “receipt ID number” provided after payment.All entries must be submitted electronically, in two pdf attachments:

1) A cover letter specifying

  • Your name, address, telephone number and email;
  • The month and year you received the MFA from Warren Wilson or Goddard College;
  • The titles of the stories or novel excerpt(s) submitted; if submitting an excerpt, give a brief description of the shape and remainder of the manuscript-in-progress;
  • The “receipt ID number” for your entry fee payment;
  • A list of publication credits;
  • A statement explaining how the award will assist the projected completion of your book.

2) A fifty-page manuscript of fiction must be included. The prose should be double-spaced with margins of at least 1inch. Pages submitted above the fifty pages required will not be considered. Please use 12-point readable fonts for the manuscripts. Your name should not appear anywhere in the manuscript submitted. The manuscripts are judged blindly and should your name appear in the manuscript, your application will be disqualified and removed from consideration.The entry should be submitted by electronic mail to Levis@friendsofwriters.org  The email should have two attachments as specified above, one labeled “cover letter” and one labeled “manuscript.” Both attachments must be .pdf files.


  • Submissions will be accepted between August 15, 2013 and October 15, 2013.
  • The Stipend will be awarded in January 2014. It is fully-taxable under United Stated tax laws, and Friends of Writers must declare the award to the Internal Revenue Service. Taxes and payments of taxes are solely the responsibility of the award winner.

Larry Levis (1946-1996) was an award-winning poet who wrote six books of poetry during his lifetime. His last collection, Elegy, was published posthumously. A Selected Poems was published in 2000. Levis was a much beloved member of the faculty at the MFA Program for Writers, cherished as much for his incisive mind as for the care and attention he gave to his students.

Any queries or requests for more information should be addressed to:

Nan Cuba
Levis Fellowship Administrator

New Work by Susan Sterling

An essay by Susan Sterling (Fiction, ’92) “The Summer of Uncle Tom,” appears in the Spring 2013 print edition of Witness: 

“A very old edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous novel had been on my bookshelf for more than a decade, since my father sold our family home in Connecticut after my mother’s death. I brought the book back to Maine with me because it was historically important, but it never occurred to me even to glance inside it. I’ve always been annoyed with people who have strong opinions about books they’ve never read, yet here I was unapologetically in their camp, certain I would find the novel preachy and moralistic. What I didn’t anticipate was the way the story, once begun, would stir up half-hidden memories and grab hold of my imagination, leading to a troubling discovery about my own family history. The critic Edmund Wilson could have had me in mind when he warned: “To expose oneself in maturity to Uncle Tom’s Cabin…might well prove a startling experience.”…”

Faculty and Alumni in Blackbird

New poems by faculty members Ellen Bryant Voigt and Dana Levin, and alumni Victoria Chang and Sean Patrick Hill, appear online at Blackbird.

“Lost Boy” by Ellen Bryant Voigt

Two Poems by Dana Levin (also, A Conversation with Dana Levin and Matthew Zapruder)

Four Poems by Victoria Chang

“Gauguin Among the Tahitians” by Sean Patrick Hill

The Mystery of Personality

From Dominic Smith‘s January 2013 residency lecture:


To purchase full MFA residency readings and lectures, visit the MFA Store

Faculty and Alumni in Drunken Boat

Work by Program Director Debra Allbery, faculty members Laura Kasischke, David Baker, and Mark Jarman, and alumnus Randall Couch (poetry ’03) appears in Drunken Boat 17‘s feature on Lisa Russ Spaar’s anthology of critical essays, The Hide and Seek Muse.


Debra Allbery reads “Of Evanescence”

Laura Kasischke reads “March”

David Baker discusses “Swift”

Mark Jarman reads “Oblivion”

Randall Couch reads “Pressed”

Catchy Tunes

“Catchy Tunes,” a poem by Robert Thomas (poetry, ’02) appears online at Poetry Magazine.

It’s not just this. Every written word is a suicide note.
And a love letter, too.

There may be no one to talk to who would get it,
but if you write it down maybe someone will get it after you’ve left the room,

or in five hundred years, or maybe someone from Sirius, the Dog Star,
will get it. The composer Karlheinz Stockhausen

claimed he was born on Sirius. You remember him:
the genius who said the crashing of planes

into the World Trade Center was the greatest concert ever held,
although he later conceded the audience had not been given the option

to not attend
and that somewhat diminished its perfection.  …[Keep Reading]…

MFA Residency: Friday, July 12th

Public Schedule Events

At 10:00 am in Fellowship Hall, Mary Szybist’s lecture “There Interposed a _______: A Few Considerations of Poetic Drama”

Then at 11:15, a lecture from Robert Boswell’s lecture “Having Weight and Having Gravity: Resonance and Meaning in Fiction”

Join us this afternoon at 4:30 pm in Fellowship Hall for the final Graduate Student readings, followed immediately by the Graduation Ceremony

Tonight’s Graduate Readers:

Patricia Grace King

Lia Greenwell

Adrienne Perry

Nathan McClain

Garrett Simmons

For more information, including a full schedule of public events, please visit the program website at http://wwcmfa.org/

MFA Residency: Thursday, July 11th

Public Schedule Events

At 9:30 am in Fellowship Hall, Caitlin Horrocks discusses “When Bad Stories Go Good”

Then at 10:45, a lecture from Tony Hoagland on “Information, Layering, and the Composite Poem”

Join us tonight at 8:15 pm in Fellowship Hall for Graduate Student readings by:

Tommye Blount

Elisabeth Hamilton

Sean Patrick Hill

Steve Weed

Carrie Mar

Judith Whelchel

For more information, including a full schedule of public events, please visit the program website at http://wwcmfa.org/

MFA Residency: Wednesday, July 10th

Public Schedule Events

Join us tonight at 8:15 pm in Fellowship Hall for the first night of Graduate Student readings.  Tonight’s Graduate Readers:

Lindsay Ahl

Alexandra Carter

Ronald Alexander

Brandi Gentry

Victor Valcik

Marit MacArthur

For more information, including a full schedule of public events, please visit the program website at http://wwcmfa.org/