Aaron-Caycedo Kimura published in Beloit Poetry Journal


We’re happy to share that our current poetry MFA student, Aaron Caycedo-Kimura, recently published a poem in the spring issue of Beloit Poetry Journal!  Read the poem here.

Aaron says, My poem “The Fern” is about the loss of something I never had but always wanted. It was inspired by the wild ferns growing in my backyard that I dug up last spring and transplanted.

Thanks, Aaron, for brightening our weeks with a poem, and congratulations!

Aaron Caycedo-Kimura is a poet, painter, and cartoonist. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Poet LoreDMQ ReviewCrab Creek ReviewNaugatuck River ReviewOff the CoastConnecticut River ReviewGravelCrack the SpineRust + MothTule 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.

Jordan Coriza wins two contests

Jordan Coriza Portrait 2019 (1)

We’re so excited for Jordan Coriza (Fiction ’08) who has won two contests for his novel The Dead Phone!  Jordan won the Craft on Draft contest back in May, but he was recently interviewed by Dead Darlings, and you can check that out here.

Jordan was also selected to be the Hotel Commonwealth’s Writer-in-Residence.  The prize is a two-week stay at their “Reader’s Suite,” outfitted in honor of author Ben Mezrich.  Here’s a great video of Jordan accepting the award!  You can read more about the contest here and here.

Jordan took the time to share a little about his novel with us.  He says:

THE DEAD PHONE is a historical novel set during Argentina’s Dirty War (late ’70s), when tens of thousands of people disappeared at the hands of the military government. The book tells the story of Rosa Alvarez, a homemaker and devoted mother who widows at the beginning of the story. Ravaged by the loss of her husband, she must overcome emotional and financial challenges to survive. When she finds an old phone in her late husband’s tool shed, she uses it to call him. Word gets around, and neighbors begin to flood my protagonist’s house bearing gifts of cash and valuable objects in exchange for time with her otherworldly phone. A man who is looking for his missing wife offers Rosa a meaningful friendship and a sense of possibility. Together, they begin a hunt for the disappeared. The journey proves as dangerous as it is helpful. But the junta has eyes everywhere, and undesirables like Rosa are swiftly sucked off the streets every day. Filled with suspicion, grief, and doubts, Rosa has to move decisively yet carefully, for if she, too, is taken, many will lose access to the phone. Then, just as she’s pondering a life-altering plunge, Rosa faces a stunning turn of events. What might be a victory to others may just be the realization of her deepest fears.

Thanks, Jordan, and congratulations!  We’re looking forward to reading The Dead Phone when it hits shelves.

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

Omer Friedlander receives VSC fellowship

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We’re so happy to announce that Omer Friedlander (Fiction 2019) has received a fully-funded Vermont Studio Center fellowship!  He will be in residence at VSC for four weeks in May 2020.  Before that, Omer is traveling to India on a Global Fellowship.  He is currently reading The White Book by Han Kang and We the Animals by Justin Torres.

Congratulations, Omer!

Omer Friedlander grew up in Tel-Aviv. He has a BA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge and an MFA from Boston University where he was the Saul Bellow Fellow in Fiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in literary magazines in the US, UK, Canada, France, Israel and Singapore, including The Common, The Ilanot Review, The Mays Anthology, Paris Lit Up, and others. His writing has been supported by the Bread Loaf Work-Study Scholarship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, Tin House Summer and Winter Workshops, and Wellspring House Residency. He was awarded first place in the Shmuel Traum Literary Translation Prize.

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:


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


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


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


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


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

Jordan Coriza

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.