Friday, May 21, 2010

Weekend Poetry News: MFA Poets and John Murillo

Our current poetry MFAs have work in or forthcoming in the following publications:

Jacques Rancourt has work in Linebreak and forthcoming in Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art.

Josh Kalscheur has poems forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Georgetown Review, and Fourteen Hills.

Kai Carlson-Wee's work is forthcoming in Forklift, Ohio.

Brittany Cavallaro has poems in H-NGM-N and forthcoming in Washington Square Review, New York Quarterly, and Handsome Journal.

And be sure to check out current Halls Poetry Fellow John Murillo on Blog Talk Radio.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yay, MFA Program!

Congratulations to us! The University Academic Planning Council officially approved the Creative Writing MFA program today. (The first 5 years of a new program are probationary; after 5 years the program submits a lengthy report to the UAPC requesting permission to continue.) This means we are here to stay--something we didn't think was really in doubt, but which is very nice to hear nonetheless.

It's A Boy!

Welcome to Elliot Leonard Hall, the brand new son of former fiction MFA Brian Hall and Mary Cotofan. Mazel tov, you guys.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More good news about former Institute fellow Susanna Daniel's soon-to-be released novel Stiltsville: not only is it going to be a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers book, it's going to be a Book of the Month Club alternate. All very thrilling news.

And Susanna has a blog, too: follow her on

Blogs and Monsters

Two places on the Interwebs you need to visit:

First, the Monsters of Poetry's new, official, gorgeous website:


The blog of our former Institute fellow Danielle Evans:
(That's Danielle, up above)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Watching the Three Stooges with his Dogs

There's a really interesting interview of former Institute fellow John McNally up on the Huffington Post today, in which, along with discussing John's newest novel After the Workshop, the very humorless interviewer does everything he can to get John to admit MFA programs are destroying literature and John does everything he can to impress upon the interviewer that he is too busy trying to find time to watch The Three Stooges with his dogs to worry about it...which is why we love John McNally.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Erika Meitner in New Republic

Former Institute poetry fellow Erika Meitner's poem, "Ideal Cities," will be in this week's issue of The New Republic--you can score a copy on Thursday.

Sunday News: MFA Readings in NYC and Lisa Marie's Book Gets a New Name

Good news for those of you living in NYC and envying the fast pace whirl of Madison literary life: this week there will be three, count 'em, three must-see readings: on Wednesday 5/19, former MFA Emma Straub reads with Dan Chaon at the Cakeshop; on Thursday 5/20, new MFA fiction grad Alyssa Knickerbocker reads with Josh Weil at BookCourt; and on Friday 5/21 Emma Straub reads with Gina Frangello at Word.

In other news, Lisa Marie Brodsky writes to say her forthcoming book of poems has had a title change and will now be titled The Sum of Our Burning. Heads up to everyone who was planning to put Motherlung (old title) on their book wish lists.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

MFA Class of 2010 Graduates

(pictured l to r: Alyssa Knickerbocker, Barrett Swanson, Jake Wolff, Noreen McAuliffe, Angela Delarmente, Stacey Mantooth, and Vanessa Merina)

This was graduation week at UW-Madison, a bittersweet time given we're thrilled by the accomplishments of our 7 graduating fiction writers, but sad to be saying goodbye. To avoid dwelling on how much we would miss these guys, we made sure we were all very busy this week. Along with final thesis meetings, the signing of warrants, one last reading (by our own Jesse Lee Kercheval), and the usual last-week-of-the-semester craziness, there were a number of events to celebrate our graduating class's achievements. These included an intimate champagne reception at Lorrie Moore's home for the fiction MFAs and the fiction faculty and, on graduation day itself, Friday May 14, a bash at Jesse Lee's, where fiction and poetry faculty, our 2010 Institute fellows and our first-year MFAs, as well as a number of MFA alumni, proud parents, and supportive partners, toasted the graduates and marveled at how quickly two years can go by.

Around 4pm, the soon-to-be graduates and their faculty escorts donned their academic regalia and, after the obligatory photo session, headed to the Kohl Center for the early evening ceremony.

On a personal note, it was a thrill for me to escort two of my thesis students, Stacey Mantooth and Barrett Swanson, to the stage, where Chancellor Biddy Martin presented them with their diplomas. Congratulations to them and to the entire class of 2010.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Monsters of Poetry Present Fiction (Yeah, Fiction)

Our buddies, The Monsters of Poetry, are briefly morphing into the Monsters of Fiction for their next reading at Project Lodge. Our own Jesse Lee Kercheval will be one of three readers. Here are the details:

Thursday, May 13, 2010
Time: 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Location: The Project Lodge, 817 East Johnson Street, Madison, WI


The Monsters of Poetry Present (wait for it)... Fiction! Featuring, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Leslie Jamison and Ted Thompson.

Jesse Lee Kercheval was born in France and raised in Florida. She is the author of 11 books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction including Brazil (CSU Poetry Center, 2010) which won the Ruthanne Wiley Memorial Novella Prize; Cinema Muto (SIU Press, 2009), a collection of poems about silent film which won a Crab Orchard Open Selection Award; and The Alice Stories (U of Nebraska Press, 2007) which won the Prairie Schooner Fiction Book Prize. She teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she directs the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.

Leslie Jamison grew up in Los Angeles but currently splits her time between New Haven and Iowa City. A graduate of Harvard College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has also spent time working as a schoolteacher in Nicaragua and an innkeeper on the coast of California. She is currently a PhD candidate in American literature at Yale University. Her first novel, The Gin Closet, was published by Free Press in February.

Ted Thompson's stories have been published in Tin House, American Short Fiction, The L Magazine, and Best New American Voices, and he's received fellowships from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He lives in Iowa City.

Good News Round-up

Good news has been coming at a fast pace and I've fallen behind on posting it all. Here's what I've got to date:

First, congratulations to former Institute fiction fellow, Susanna Daniel, whose forthcoming book Stiltsville has been chosen by Barnes & Noble for its Discover New Writers program.

James Crews (MFA poetry) has a poem up in Booth.

Current Fellow Michael Sheehan has a story in the current print issue of Conjunctions. Entitled "Jean Takes a Moment to Respond," this was the story Michael submitted in support of his fellowship application. The story Michael read at his fellow's reading, "The Horror," was also accepted by Conjunctions and will appear in a later issue.

Former Institute fiction fellow Anthony Doerr breezed in late last Friday and left at dawn on Sunday--but on Saturday we kept him busy every minute. He had lunch with MFAs, met with Fellows, dined with the good folks of The Madison Review, and gave a fantastic reading of a new story at Brochach's Pub--if you were there, you know why I chose the picture of Tony with a big fish. As usual, standing room only.

And speaking of the reading at Brochach's, it was in honor of The Madison Review's 30th anniversary. Happy birthday to a great literary review run exclusively by its undergraduate staffers.

Finally, I recently caught up with former Institute poetry fellow Eric Burger whose good news includes work in current issues of Gulf Coast, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Phoebe; a Poem of the Week on the Missouri Review's website (the week being that of 4-13-10); his Ph.D in lit and creative writing (old news, actually, since he acquired it in 2006); and last but hardly least, his adorable little daughter June.

Please write to me if I've forgotten your news or if you have new news--or old news we missed.

Photos from Gates of Heaven Reading

On May 5, 2010 Jesse Lee Kercheval's graduate poetry workshop gave an end of the semester reading at the beautiful historic Gates of Heaven synogogue. The room, including the balcony, was packed with a standing room only crowd of undergrads, grad students, Institute fellows and faculty. It was a great event and we thank Louisa Diodato for these photos.

The former bima of the synagogue

Nancy Reddy

Jacques Rancourt

Stacey Mantooth

Josh Kalscheur

Louisa Diodato

Kai Carlson-Wie

Bri Cavallaro

Seth Abramson

Thursday, May 6, 2010

TONIGHT, Thursday, May 6th: Mohar & Murillo

Join us for The Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing's final reading of the semester with:

John Murillo, Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow
Chris Mohar, Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow

Thursday, May 6
Helen C. White Hall, Rm 6191

*2010 creative writing dept awards to follow*

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Grad Poets Reading on May 5th

The members of Jesse Lee Kercheval's Graduate Poetry Workshop will be reading their work at the beautiful Gates of Heaven Synagogue in James Madison Park tomorrow evening. Here's the info. Note the pre-poetry bocce ball in the park event. Sounds like a new Madison tradition in the making.

Date: Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Time: 8:00pm - 9:30pm
302 E. Gorham St., Madison


Seth Abramson
Kai Carlson-Wee
Brittany Cavallaro
Louisa Diodato
Joshua Kalscheur
Stacey Mantooth
Jacques Rancourt
Nancy Reddy

The Gates of Heaven Synagogue is located on the east side of James Madison. Show up ahead of time for some bocce ball and refreshments in the park. Everyone is invited. Bring your friends.

2010-2011 Institute Fellows Announced

Congratulations to the recipients of our 2010-2011 Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing Fellows in poetry, fiction, and playwriting. They are:

Sean Bishop, the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow
MFA, University of Houston

Rebecca Hazelton, the Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow
PhD, Florida State University

Sterling Schildt, the James C. McCreight Fiction Fellow
MFA, University of Iowa

Andrew Mortazavi, the Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow
MFA, University of Arizona

Lydia Fitzpatrick, the Carl Djerassi Fiction Fellow
MFA, University of Michigan

Laurel Bastian, the Halls Emerging Artist Fellowship for a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's MFA Program

Sarah Gubbins, the Carl Djerassi Playwriting Fellow
MFA Northwestern University

Institute Fellows spend a year in Madison, teaching one course each semester, participating in program activities and, most important, writing. For more information about the Institute Fellowships, see the creative writing website:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Shara and Nick

Your Sunday reading: Former Fellow Shara Lessley's interview in The Rumpus with Former HEAF Fellow Nick Lantz. There is also a new Nick poem accompanying the interview.