Aaron Caycedo-Kimura publishes three poems

Wonderful news from one of our current poetry MFA’s, Aaron Caycedo-Kimura, who has three poems forthcoming this fall!  Aaron was a semi-finalist in the 2019 Crab Creek Review Poetry Prize contest with two poems, “Artificial Flavors” and “Memorial.”  They will be published in the Fall 2019 issue of Crab Creek Review. In addition, Aaron’s ekphrastic ghazal “Sun in an Empty Room, 1963” will be published in the Summer/Fall 2019 issue of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction, and Essays.

Aaron had this to say about the poems:

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I’ve written a lot about my parents since they passed away—my father in 2011 and my mother in 2015. In doing so, I continue to honor them and keep their memory alive in my life. “Artificial Flavors” is based on a childhood memory at the salon where my mother used to get her hair done, and “Sun in an Empty Room, 1963” (an ekphrastic ghazal) is about my last walkthrough of her empty house before I sold it. “Memorial” is about my father and his college friend who tried to connect with him after he died.

Thank you, Aaron, for sharing your work with us.  What a beautiful way to honor your parents.  We look forward to seeing these poems in print.  Congratulations!

Aaron Caycedo-Kimura is a poet, painter, and cartoonist. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Poet Lore, DMQ Review, Crab Creek Review, Naugatuck River Review, Off the Coast, Connecticut River Review, Gravel, Crack the Spine, Rust + Moth, Tule Review, and elsewhere. He is also the author and illustrator of Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life, published by TarcherPerigee. Aaron is currently an MFA candidate in the creative writing program at Boston University.

 

Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women

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We’re so psyched for Lisa Taddeo (Fiction ’17) whose scintillating book, Three Womendebuted at number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list a couple weeks ago!

Lisa will be reading from the book tonight at Harvard Book Store at 7 pm.  Despite being on book tour, she took the time to speak with us about the book.

How did you come up with the idea for Three Women?
I’d read Gay Talese’s Thy Neighbor’s Wife and was impressed with the immersive nature of the book but it was written from a very male perspective, so I decided it might make sense to write about female desire, from a female perspective.

How did you find the women you interviewed, and how did you decide on these three in particular? What was the process of getting their stories? 

Reporting the book was different day to day. I would make lists of tenuous things to do: Posting signs in the morning, across nearly every state in the country. I would go to bars and restaurants and corner stores and talk to people, trying to find the person who would be THE person. I moved to several of the towns of both the women in the book and others who didn’t make it into the book. I interviewed hundreds of people, twenty-five minutes or at length (for over a month or more). I left about twenty people out of the final cut. It was hard to do that, but Sloane, Maggie, and Lina were the most comfortable with my presence in their lives at length and across poignant moments. They let me into their minds ten times more than the next person. And, as a triad, they told the most arresting yet cohesive narrative. Finally, the way that their communities psychologically conspired against them was emblematic for me of much of America’s projection of their sexual fears onto others.ThreeWomen

The book was written over eight years and is an amazingly intimate and exhaustive narrative. Why do you think these women were willing to open up to you? What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in writing it?

More than wanting to “get the story,” I wanted all the subjects of this book to feel heard and not used. Lina came from a very Catholic home, had no friends in whom she could confide, and merely wanted someone to listen. She had recently reconnected with her high school lover and was dying to describe every interlude because she was finally being seen and felt. Maggie wanted her version of the story heard when an entire town banded against her. Sloane, similarly, hadn’t told anyone other than her best friend about her intimate life.

The instances I most loved came when I was observing them from a distance, quietly writing, taking notes, taking in the environment while not being a part of the action. For example, after Lina was intimate with Aidan in their sacred spot, I would travel there right after, to take in the smells and sounds and sights of the river at dusk. So I could best describe the milieu, so I could best layer onto what Lina had just told me.

The biggest challenge was simply finding them. It’s hard to get anyone to open up about desire, especially at the level these women did; on top of that, it’s hard to let someone into your life on a daily basis the way that they did.

What other books and/or works of art / literature have shaped the process of writing this book?

George Packer’s The Unwinding, the immersion of Gay Talese’s Thy Neighbor’s Wife, Joan Didion, Elena Ferrante, Tracy Kidder, Janet Malcolm, Renata Adler, the throttle of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, the empathy and humility and love of Grace Paley.

And because this is for our program blog, we’d love to know: how did the BU MFA help you?

Reading and writing fiction (under the wonderful tutelage of Leslie Epstein and Ha Jin) helped me to consider language more in my nonfiction. I never like to read nonfiction written in staid manners, and so it was beyond helpful to be in BU’s amazing fiction program while I wrote what would become my first novel (out next summer) and my collection of stories and finishing this book, which I don’t think would have been the same without BU.

Thank you, Lisa, and congratulations!  We are so proud of you and excited for you.

Lisa Taddeo is a journalist who has contributed to New York magazine, Esquire, Elle, Glamour, and many other publications. Her nonfiction has been included in the Best American Sports Writing and Best American Political Writing anthologies, and her short stories have won two Pushcart Prizes in 2017 and 2019. She lives with her husband and daughter in Connecticut.

Mimi Lipson publishes essay in Massachusetts Review

Mimi headshot ladderWe’re really pleased to share this unflinchingly honest and moving essay by Mimi Lipson.  The essay, about Mimi’s brother, is called “Tornado” and was published recently in the Massachusetts Review.

About writing the essay, Mimi says:

I usually avoid thinking about writing in terms of catharsis, but working on this really did help me to resolve some things. It has a lot of parts to it, and I kept thinking I needed to take one thing or another out, but in the end it didn’t work without everything–all the complications. What’s really surprised me is how satisfying it’s been to share the piece with Nate’s old friends. I don’t think anything I’ve accomplished in terms of publishing my work has meant more to me than the gratitude some of them have expressed.

Thank you for sharing this with us, Mimi, and hearty congrats.

Mimi Lipson received her MFA from BU in 2013. She’s published a book of stories called The Cloud of Unknowing (Yeti), and her fiction has appeared in BOMB, Harvard Review, Witness, and elsewhere. She has enjoyed residency fellowships at McDowell, Yaddo, Ucross, VCCA, and the Edward Albee Foundation. Mimi lives in New York City.

Featured alumnus: Jean Charbonneau

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This week, we’re excited to feature Jean Charbonneau, an alumnus of our program from 1998!  Jean was born in Montreal, and studied creative writing at Harvard Extension School and the University of Southern Mississippi before getting his MA in creative writing from BU. He freelanced as a book critic for a few years, and wrote for AGNI, the Boston Book Review (now defunct), the Detroit Free Press, the Denver Post, and other newspapers.

Jean is currently working on a novel set in Baltimore, where he worked as a librarian in hospitals and in the Maryland state prison system.  He lived in the US (Boston, Hattiesburg, Detroit, and Baltimore) for nearly twenty years before returning to Montréal in 2011.

While Jean has published stories in both French and English, all of his novels were written in his native language, French.  Québec Amérique, a Canadian publishing house, published all three of them.  Jean says that his first book, a literary novel called Comme un intrus, began as a story that he wrote while here at BU. Jean’s second novel, Tout homme rêve d’être un gangster, is noir, and his third novel, Camus doit mourir, is an imaginative tale set in the last days of the Nazi occupation of Paris, about an assassination attempt on Albert Camus by a right-wing extremist who is obsessed with Louis-Ferdinand Céline.

Congrats to you, Jean!  We’re so happy the program was helpful to you, and we look forward to reading your next novel.

Katherine Hollander wins Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize

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We’re so excited for Kate Hollander, who recently won the 14th annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize for her collection My German Dictionary!  Waywiser Press will publish the book this fall, when Kate will read alongside Charles Wright at the Shakespeare Folger Library.

Please click here to read two poems from My German Dictionary.  Below, Kate took the time to share some thoughts with us about the book, which began in our poetry workshops here at BU.  Kate says:

The seeds and roots of My German Dictionary go back to my time at BU, where I worked closely with Robert Pinsky and Louise Glück and with the really lovely members of my cohort. The book is a little pocket guide, maybe, to my own internal “Germany” which is related to but I suppose not identical with the real, historical thing. It is, in that way, precisely what the title says. Put another way: It’s all the things that inform what I do and write and teach as an historian but which can’t be expressed by me in my role as an historian.

I’d known for a long time that I was and wanted to be both an historian and a poet. Once I got to BU, it turned out that I could do both, in a way–I took a seminar in German romantic philosophy with Allen Speight at BU with a whole bunch of very very smart PhD students in philosophy, and it just so happened that that year the translation workshop was taught by the Germanist Will Waters. It was in that translation workshop that I met another student who recommend I work with Jim Schmidt, who eventually became my advisor in the PhD program in history. I took a German reading course with Silvia Beier, who unlocked some doors to the language for me. There are quite a few poems in the book that date from my time in the creative writing program, and more from my time in the PhD program, just a few doors down from the Creative Writing program, at BU.

Congratulations, Kate, and thank you for sharing with us!  We’re happy for you and looking forward to seeing your book soon.

Katherine Hollander is a poet and historian. Her poetry, criticism, and scholarship have appeared in Literary ImaginationPleiadesHunger MountainTupelo QuarterlyThe Brecht YearbookNew German Critique, and elsewhere. She is presently Faculty Fellow in modern European history at Colby College and a guest reader for Sugar House Review.

Neshat Khan wins Boston Review short story contest

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We’re so proud to announce that Neshat Khan (GRS ’18) recently won the Aura Estrada fiction prize (Boston Review) for her story “The Neighbors”!  The story was chosen by Alexander Chee, which he describes as “the story of two women figuring out the nature of a desire they don’t have words for, inventing a world between them before bringing it down.”  Read the story here.

You can catch Neshat at the Annual Faculty Reading this Monday (4/8) at 7 pm at the BU Hillel House, where she will be the featured alumni reader. In the meantime, we had the chance to ask her some questions about her work, below.

You tend to write very short stories. What draws you to that length?

In undergrad I read Chekov’s “The Lady with the Little Dog” for the first time. I remember being amazed at how much is conveyed in so few pages. The opening paragraphs alone, though sparsely written, are filled with a wealth of details that inform us of who these characters are. Since then I have been drawn to stories that are very short in length.

How did you get the idea for “The Neighbors”?

“The Neighbors” was the last story I wrote for Leslie’s workshop. At the time I was reading Tagore, whose work I always return to. The widows in his tales, capable of great compassion and immense cruelty, were on my mind.

You’re teaching at BU this semester.  What’s a piece of writing advice that you think / hope is really helpful for students?

I always tell my students to keep what is essential to the story and cut the rest. This, and that writing is mostly rewriting.

Thanks, Neshat, and congratulations!  We’re looking forward to hearing more from you at the Faculty Reading.

Neshat Khan is a graduate of Boston University’s MFA program. She is the recipient of the Florence Engel Randall Graduate Award and a St. Botolph Club Emerging Artist Award. Her fiction has won Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Contest and is forthcoming in Indiana Review. She lives and teaches in New England.

Jordan Coriza publishes story in the Bare Life Review

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Great news from Jordan Coriza (Fiction ’08), who recently published a story in the Bare Life Review, a journal dedicated to immigrant and refugee writers! The story is a fictionalized account of Jordan’s early days in the US.

He says, Largely based on my own immigrant experience, “Shine” tells the story of a young man who’s recently arrived in the U.S. and takes a job as a shoe shiner in Boston’s Financial District. Although he has to master English first, he’s eager to enroll in veterinary school and prove his father wrong. Meanwhile, his friendship with the company’s driver teaches him a few lessons that will serve him well in this new land.

Congrats, Jordan!  We’re looking forward to reading your story and getting to know this new literary journal.

Jordan Coriza’s stories have appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, the Worcester Review, the Bare Life Review, and elsewhere. Though he calls Boston home, he’s lived in Argentina, Brazil, and spent time in Italy. He makes a living as a communications professional for a nonprofit global health organization and is writing a novel set in Argentina during its last military dictatorship. Find him on Twitter @JordanCoriza.

Class of 2018 Poets Publish Anthology

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Last year’s MFA poetry class was a particularly tightknit group, the kind that rooted for each other and hung out together both in and out of the classroom.  In addition to workshops every week, they could often be found having lunch and doing yoga in room 222!  The poets decided to put together a book of their own poems.  The collection, titled If You’re Not Happy Now, was published earlier this month by Broadstone Books!   Congratulations, poets!  A few members of the group will be reading selections from it on Saturday, April 20th at 3 pm in the AGNI basement here at 236 Bay State Rd.  All are welcome.

Maddie Gilmore had this to say about the book’s conception: “We came up with the idea for the anthology over drinks one afternoon (either at O’Leary’s or the Dugout) after workshop. We were talking about (I think) legacies, particularly the ones left by some of the big names from the program’s past—Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and so forth. Wouldn’t it be great, we joked, if one day people looked back at this workshop and said, “Wow, I can’t believe they were all in the same room together!” And the more we joked the more we realized there was something appealing about somehow cementing our poetry together as a group, something comforting about the thought that our brief time together could continue in some way. Someone said, “We could make a book?””

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Lauren Peat shared her thoughts on the great gift of an artistic community: “One of the most comforting things about our cohort, for me personally, was its unfailing generosity. I consistently had the sense that a victory for one person—a knock-out submission to workshop, say, or a publication or literary prize—was a victory for us all.

If You’re Not Happy Now, I think, ultimately became a way of extending this atmosphere—one of trust and collective championship—into the “outside” literary world. The one existing beyond Room 222. This world of publishers and literary journals and towering slush piles can feel daunting and competitive; the knowledge that you are part of a community whose aspirations overlap and even intertwine with yours—this makes the ocean feel a little less, well…oceanic. To be published is one thing; to be published alongside seven close friends, colleagues, and mentors is quite another.”

Congratulations, poets!  What a pleasure it is to know you and read your work.  We’re certainly happy now that your book is out in the world!

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Megan Collins publishes debut novel

MEGAN COLLINS for Web (2)We are so excited to announce that Megan Collins (Poetry ’08) has published her debut novel, The Winter Sister!  The book was released last week, and has already been a hit with reviewers and readers alike.  A contemporary suspense novel inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone, it begins sixteen years ago, when Sylvie’s sister Persephone didn’t come home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found–and years later, her murder remains unsolved. Now, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged, alcoholic mother undergoing cancer treatment, and in the process, begins to uncover the truth about what really happened to Persephone.

The Winter Sister is a 2019 anticipated read from PopSugar, Marie Claire, and Goodreads.  Kirkus Reviews called it “a bewitching thriller, with surprises detonating in nearly every chapter.”

Congratulations, Megan!  We’re so happy for you.FINAL (2)

Megan Collins holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. She has taught creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Central Connecticut State University, and she is the managing editor of 3Elements Review. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in many print and online journals, including Off the Coast, Spillway, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Rattle. She lives in Connecticut.

Rebecca Levi wins Mick Imlah award

RebeccaLeviWe’re so proud of Rebecca Levi (Poetry ’18) who recently won third place in the Mick Imlah Poetry Prize!  The winning poem is called “December 31st” and was published in The Times Literary Supplement.

Rebecca says:

The thing about living in Colombia is that poems happen to you all the time. On December 31, 2017, they really did slaughter five pigs outside the apartment where I was staying, and the trash truck rounded the corner, and there was drama on my WhatsApp. All I had to do was write it down. It came out almost fully formed, and I trusted the strange stream of my consciousness.

Read “December 31st” here.

Congratulations, Rebecca!

Rebecca Levi is a musician, poet, and translator. She has lived and worked in Peru, Colombia, and the U.S. Her poetry has appeared in BorderSenses and No Tokens Journal, and her translations have been published by Princeton University Press. Her translations of Chilean poet Stella Díaz Varin won second place in Boston University’s Robert Fitzgerald Translation Prize and are forthcoming in Your Impossible Voice. If You’re Not Happy Now, an anthology of work by BU’s MFA poetry class of 2018, is forthcoming from Broadstone Books in Spring 2019. In December 2018, Rebecca won third place in the Mick Imlah Poetry Prize at the Times Literary Supplement for her poem, “December 31st.” Rebecca’s band is called Debarro, meaning made of mud and ever-changing, which also describes what she likes about poetry.