Jacob Strautmann Awarded MCC Fellowship

unnamedJacob Strautmann (Poetry ’00) has been awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Artistic Fellowship!  The MCC committee reviewed poems from his forthcoming book The Land of the Dead is Open for Business (Four Way Books, Spring 2020!). Visit Jake’s MCC Artist Fellowship Page here.  To read more about the fellowship, click here.

Finalists of the MCC Fellowships include alumni Kirun Kapur (also Poetry ’00) and Jill McDonough (Poetry ’98). The fellowship recognizes “exceptional work by Massachusetts artists across a range of disciplines.”

Since graduating from the program, Jake has taught undergraduate creative writing at BU.  He had this to say about teaching:

While my day-job is handling the finances for Boston Playwrights’ Theatre as their Managing Director, I’ve always found great fulfillment teaching creative writing at Boston University. Starting in 2002, in my thirty-odd classes of Intro to Creative Writing (EN 202) and Writing of Plays (EN 306), I’ve been lucky enough to find students who keep challenging me, who keep me from settling on one kind of lesson I could repeat each semester. Their insistence that I not be lazy is mirrored in what I’ve been sure to tell them: no one knows if he or she will be a writer for years and years. The fellowship and the book won’t make me a better teacher, but I hope they offer my students some proof of the persistence gospel all writing teachers preach. 

Congratulations, Jake!

Jacob Strautmann is the Managing Director of the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. In addition, he is currently a contributing editor for Salamander Magazine.  His poems have appeared in Forklift, Ohio, Unsplendid, The Harlequin, Salamander Magazine, The Boston Globe, Agni Online, The Appalachian Journal, Solstice, Jam Tarts, Quiddity (where he won the Editor’s Prize in Poetry), and Appalachian Heritage. His poems are forthcoming in The Southern Humanities Review.

Reedsy Short Story Contest

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We’ve partnered with Reedsy for a short story contest! The three best submissions will win an editorial assessment from editor Laura Mae Isaacman, who has worked with T.C. Boyle, Lara Vapnyar, Joyce Carol Oates, Noam Chomsky, and many others. Read more about her here.

To submit, write a short story that begins with the following sentence: “First place isn’t always where you want to be.”

15,000 words max

Email your submission to bu@reedsy.com.  The Reedsy Short Story Contest runs from today (February 5th) through March 5, 2018.  Open to BU MFA students and program alumni.

Good luck!

Caitlin Doyle’s Poem Featured in The Guardian


Caitlin Doyle (Poetry ’08) has been featured in The Poem of the Week column in The Guardian! Past featured poets include John Ashberry, Paul Muldoon, W.S. Merwin, Alice Oswald, Seamus Heaney, and Patricia Lockwood.  The column’s editor, Carol Rumens, has this to say about Caitlin’s poem:

“Carnival” demonstrates the effectiveness of a “combination of story and song,” with each element being used to complement and complicate the other. The poem’s external patterning depends on the carefully interlocked symmetry and repetition we associate with songs and their pleasurable memorability, but the narrative itself is oblique and teasing, with the potential for carnivalesque disruption…

To read “Carnival,” along with the editor’s full commentary on it, click here.

Congratulations, Caitlin!  We’re pleased to see your poem in such good company!

Caitlin has received numerous fellowships, Writer-In-Residence teaching posts, awards, and publication credits since her graduation from the BU program as the George Starbuck Fellow in Poetry. She is currently an Elliston Fellow in Poetry at the University of Cincinnati, where she serves as the Assistant Editor of The Cincinnati Review.

Her most recent honors include the Frost Farm Poetry Prize, a Yaddo Colony fellowship, and a Writer-In-Residence fellowship at the James Merrill House in Stonington, CT. Her work has appeared in The Yale Review, Poetry Daily, The New Criterion, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, the Poetry Foundation’s “Poem of the Day” series, the PBS NewsHour Poetry Series, and others.

The Back Porch Collective to read at BPL in Jamaica Plain


The Back Porch Collective is reading at the Jamaica Plain branch of the Boston Public Library this Saturday, 1/20! Readers include alumni Stacy Mattingly (Fiction ’11), Dariel Suarez (Fiction ’12), Shubha Sunder (Fiction ’12), and Ani Gjika (Poetry ’10).  Live music will accompany them.  Check out their website for more details, and we hope to see you there!

Emily Yaremchuk and Eric McHenry win Mick Imlah Poetry Awards


We’re so proud to announce that two of our poets have won prizes in the Mick Imlah Poetry Awards!  Emily Yaremchuk (Poetry ’18) and Eric McHenry (Poetry ’97) tied for second place–Emily for her poem “Tabula Rasa,” and Eric for his poem “Picking a Prophet.”

Emily (pictured), who is in this year’s MFA class, told us about the process of writing her poem:

“Tabula Rasa” is a poem I wrote in a single burst of energy, which I believe is reflected in some of the poem’s presumptuous moxie. I have long thought that nearly everything we believe about ourselves and the world is a form of myth; therefore the age old argument about whether a person is born a ‘tabula rasa’ (clean slate), or whether they are the product of circumstances and expectations beyond their control has always struck me as a matter of storytelling.

While writing the poem, I was interested in two strains of a single personal myth. The first is the idea of inherited identity as comprehended by a child encountering the performative aspect or “thingy-ness” of personhood (i.e. the artifacts that make her father a ‘man’), the second is the retrospective acceptance of confusion and multiplicity on the part of a young adult who understands that the performance of an identity is not only external, but internal and therefore, more abstract. Ultimately, I wanted to communicate that what we believe about ourselves always depends on what we believe about other people. Ideas of “Selfhood” may always be predicated on the fact that we exist in different bodies from one another, yet the desire to reach out and touch or experience someone else’s life constantly hedges our belief in autonomy and separateness. The “tabula rasa” or blank slate of destiny acts, in its presumed emptiness, also as a mirror; in it you may see not yourself, but the several other people who have contributed to the image of yourself. We look to the past for evidence to help us understand our lives when, really, the ‘past’ exists only with us in the present, as reflected in a mirror, re-told in our minds or revisited in a poem. 

Thanks for sharing this, Emily, and congratulations to you and to Eric!

Emily Yaremchuk is an alumna of the University of Virginia where she studied English and anthropology and was a part of the Area Program in Poetry Writing. Her work has appeared in the Virginia Literary Review, The Turnip Trucks, Corks and Curls, Inkstone Magazine and will appear in the Merrimack Review‘s upcoming volume. She is currently working towards her MFA in creative writing at Boston University.

Megan Collins Hatfield’s novel to be published

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Megan Collins Hatfield (Poetry ’08) is publishing her novel!  Persephone’s Sister will be published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in spring 2019.

Below is a blurb of the book from Megan herself:

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister never came home. Persephone, out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, was missing for three days before her body was found — and her murder is still unsolved. Now Sylvie’s back in town reluctantly caring for her cancer-stricken mother, Annie. Prone to unexplained Dark Days even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie completely dissolved in the days after. To make matters worse, Persephone’s boyfriend Ben is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she’s also carrying her own secret guilt over the night Persephone didn’t come home, guilt that’s trapping her in the past while the world goes on around her. As she navigates the uncomfortably revived relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to gently dig into the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died.

As indicated by its title, the novel is influenced by the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter. In particular, I was interested in the idea of what might have happened had Demeter had another daughter who was left to fend for herself in the wake of her mother’s grief over losing Persephone.

Congratulations, Megan!

Megan Collins holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University (Poetry ’08). She teaches creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in Connecticut, and she is the Managing Editor of 3Elements Review. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in many journals, including Off the Coast, Rattle, Spillway, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal

Tara Skurtu launches The Amoeba Game in the US

We’re so proud of Tara Skurtu (Poetry ’13), who’s launching her book of poetry, The Amoeba Gamein the US this month!  The book was published last fall and launched in London in October.

Tara’s reading schedule is below.  We hope to see some alumni at these events!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018, 7 PM
Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Cambridge, MA
with Lloyd Schwartz (reading from his new book of poems, Little Kisses)

Thursday, January 11, 2018, 7 PM
Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop, Brooklyn, NY

Saturday January 13, 2018, 4 PM
Porter Square Books
, Cambridge, MA
with Michael Robbins and Sam Solomon

Congrats, Tara, and break a leg at your readings!

Jordan Coriza’s publication news

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We’re so pleased to share publication news from Jordan Coriza (Fiction ’08)!  His story “The Fittest” is out in the current issue of the Worcester Review.  Jordan says, “It’s about Agustin, a recurrent protagonist in my stories, who is constantly trying to make sense of some traumatic events of his childhood.”

Jordan’s story “The Dead Phone” was also a finalist in the Robert and Adele Schiff Awards in Poetry and Prose (Cincinnati Review).  It “tells the story of a woman who, desperate in the wake of her husband’s murder, helps the people of her community connect to the disappeared. The story is set in 1980 Argentina during the country’s last military dictatorship, where tens of thousands of people disappeared at the hands of the regime. I am currently working on turning that story into a novel.”

We also asked Jordan what he was reading these days, and he says, “Two authors I’ve been devouring lately are Ottessa Moshfegh and Dan Chaon. I love their voice, style, and the subject matter that seems to interest them.”

Congratulations, Jordan!

Jordan Coriza is from Argentina, the primary inspiration and setting for his fiction. A longtime resident of Boston, Jordan makes a living as a communications professional for a global health NGO. He’s currently focused on writing a novel and continues to work on a collection of short stories.

D.M. Aderibigbe published in The Nation


D.M. “Dami” Aderibigbe (Poetry ’16) has just published his poem “Oedipus” in The Nation!  Congrats, Dami!  We also had the chance to ask the poet some questions, below:

What was the process of writing this poem? By the way, I love the rhythmic repetition of “By that I mean.”

The process for writing this poem was kind of weird.  It’s one of the few poems that I was able to write without having to alter the idea I had. But then, midway, the narrative took over — like the repetition of “by that I mean” came out of nowhere — but the poem still ended the way I envisaged. And thanks for the compliment about the poem.

I’ve noticed that a lot of your work is about family and grief. Can you say more about that? 

Most of the poems I’ve published are part of my first manuscript which deals with family, grief among other things. But I have a lot of other poems on other themes. With that said, family, no doubt is my most important theme and I find myself coming back to it one way or another. This has to do with what family meant to me as a kid, and what it means to me now as an adult.  Grief on the other hand slipped into my family even before I knew what it meant. So, there is no way I can write about this familial past without grief not spilling out of the narrative.

Do you have any rituals that help you get into a space to write? Is the writing ever painful, and how do you deal with this? 

Usually, reading poets who explore similar things help me get into the groove.  Yes, most times the writing is painful. Most times, it draws tears out of my eyes. Knowing that many people also go through this, and feel exactly what I feel helps me deal with it in ways I can’t even imagine.

What are you reading these days?

I’m always reading Naomi Shihab Nye, Ama Ata Aidoo, Seamus Heaney. I also just reread Chloe Honum’s Then Winter, EC Osondu’s Voice of America, Jamaica Kincaid’s My BrotherRainer Maria Rilke’s Letter to a Young Poet and Nandini Dhar’s Historians of Redundant Moment (which I actually just reviewed!).

Thanks so much, Dami, and congrats again!

D.M. Aderibigbe is from Nigeria and came to the US for graduate studies in 2015. He earned his MFA in creative writing from Boston University, where he also received a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship. His chapbook is In Praise of Our Absent Father and his poems have been published widely.

Laura Marris’ upcoming readings

Laura_Marris_bioWe’re so excited for Laura Marris (Poetry ’13) whose translations are forthcoming this fall!  Laura traveled to France on her Global Fellowship in 2013, where she translated a book by (and spent time with!) the Breton poet Paol Keineg.  Since then, she’s been hard at work on a few translations as well as her own poetry.  We’re happy to be spreading the word about her upcoming readings, listed below:

October 20th at 8pm, Molasses Books, Bushwick
Laura will be reading with writers/translators David Larsen, Kyle Dacuyan, and Todd Portnowitz to celebrate the release of BLOOD DARK, which she describes as “a creepy tale of patriotism gone wrong.”  Set in 1917 during WWI, it tells the story of Cripure, a failed philosopher who teaches high school ethics.   Richard Sieburth calls this character “a monstrous Ahab of the intellect suicidally in quest of his Nietzschean white whale.”  Intrigued?  Copies of the book will be on sale at the event!

October 25th at 7pm, McCormack Family Theater, Brown University
Paol Keineg and Rosmarie Waldrop will be reading with Laura to launch Triste Tristan and Other Poems, a volume they co-translated. “Triste Tristan” knits early medieval versions of “Tristan and Iseult” together with a demythologizing perspective that “takes down the pants of the lyrical tradition.” Other poems layer the landscapes of Brittany and America with meditations on history, writing, memory, and exile. These are the poems that Laura began translating on her Global Fellowship!

PrintOctober 30th at 6pm, Columbia University Maison Française (Free with RSVP required)
Christophe Boltanski will be reading from Laura’s translation of THE SAFE HOUSE, a novel about his formidable grandmother and his family’s mysterious house in Paris.

Congratulations, Laura!  Break a leg at your readings and we’re looking forward to your books!