Tara Skurtu receives Fulbright, publishes new work

Tara Skurtu author photo-2

Exciting news from Tara Skurtu (poetry ’13), who has been awarded a Fulbright to Romania for the 2015-2016 academic year!  Tara will be reading her work at the International Poetry Festival in Sibiu, Romania this September with Robert Pinsky and Lloyd Schwartz (her former teachers!).  She’ll spend the rest of her time teaching ESL at the University of Transylvania in Brasov and giving poetry and translation workshops to young Romanian writers.

In addition, Tara’s poem, “Derivatives,” has been published in the Tahoma Literary Review and can be read here.  This poem is about her experience in Romania during her Global Fellowship.

Congratulations, Tara!  We’re so proud of you, and we wish you all the best during your Fulbright!

Tara Skurtu teaches incarcerated college students through Boston University’s Prison Education Program. She is the recipient of a 2015-16 Fulbright, a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship, and two Academy of American Poets prizes. Tara’s poems have been translated into Romanian and Hungarian, and her recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, Plume, Memorious, DMQ Review, The Common, and Tahoma Literary Review.

Sasenarine Persaud’s latest publications

Jun 2014We’re pleased to announce that Sasenarine Persaud’s (fiction ’06) essay, “Letter from Boston,” has been published in Wasafiri (London)!  Sase has also had five poems published in the online spring issue of Dasun (Malaysia).  In addition, the spring issue of Bostonia reviews the work of several BU MFA alums, including Sase’s latest book of poetry, Love in the Time of Technology, as well as Ha Jin’s A Map of Betrayal, which was published last fall, and Rachel DeWoskin’s Blind.

Congratulations, Sase!

Sasenarine Persaud is the author of twelve books of fiction and poetry. His awards include: The KM Hunter Foundation Award (Toronto) and fellowships from the University of Miami and Boston University. Persaud initiated the term Yogic Realism to define his literary aesthetics. His most recent books are Love in a Time of Technology (TSAR Books, Toronto, 2014), Lantana Strangling Ixora (TSAR Books, Toronto, 2011), Unclosed Entrances: Selected Poems (Caribbean Press, Warwick & Georgetown, 2011) and In a Boston Night (TSAR, Toronto, 2008).

He has been described as “one of those rare poets who gets the recipe of humanness exactly right” (Canadian Literature); and his poetry as “miniature rags, sensuous units of Indian music obeying conventions mysterious to western ears” (The Globe and Mail). Persaud was born in Guyana and has lived in Canada for several years. He tarries in Florida.

Mike Brokos published in Cimarron Review and Poet Lore

brokos_photo_altWe’re happy to share Mike Brokos’ (poetry 2012) recent publications!   Mike has published two poems in the current issue of Cimarron Review (Winter 2015, “Indigenous” and “November View”) and another in the current issue of Poet Lore (Spring/Summer 2015,“The Leash”).





Here are some excerpts from his work:

from “The Leash”:
I’d feel my body start to sink with yours

into a silent intuition, since it was too dark
for anything but whispering, too dark
to navigate the cliff of clay that broke the trail

by anything but memory…

from “November View”:
But for the two or three months that the vision
dimmed for the two of you, communing
across such distance; and when your parents
decided on their own list of your would-be wives;
and when you withdrew from everyone—
in the midst of that eclipse, what dawned on you…

Congratulations, Mike!

Mike Brokos (Poetry 2012) was a Bread Loaf Camargo Fellow in Cassis, France in 2014 and has also received a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont.  His poems appear in Salamander, Little Patuxent Review, Hobart, and elsewhere.  He lives in Baltimore.

Shubha Sunder’s latest publications










Great news from Shubha Sunder (fiction 2012), who has had not one, but two short stories published in journals recently!  “The Footbridge” appears in the winter issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review, and “Second Language” can be read online at The Bangalore Review.

Congratulations, Shubha!  And we’re looking forward to reading your novel when it comes out.

Shubha Sunder (Fiction 2012) is currently at work on her first novel, titled Boomtown Girl. Her stories have most recently appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, The Bangalore Review, and Narrative Magazine, where she was a winner of the 2012 “30 Below” contest. At BU she won the Robert Fitzgerald Prize and the Shmuel Traum Prize for her translation of Marcel Proust. She also won the Florence Engel Randall Graduate Fiction Award, and a Leslie Epstein Global Fellowship, which took her to Russia. She lives in Jamaica Plain, Boston.

Jordan Zandi’s first poetry collection forthcoming in 2016


We’re excited to announce that Jordan Zandi’s (poetry 2010) first book of poems is forthcoming by Sarabande books next February!  You can read the title poem here.  Below, Jordan shares a bit about the making of Solarium.

Many poems from Solarium – and, probably more importantly, the process by which I worked on them – took root in the workshops at Boston University, though only pieces might remain recognizable from those earlier drafts.  I was doing a lot of collage-style generation and revision with that work, and some of the final poems came from two, three, even five, separate poems being grafted onto one another.  Others – and here I think of the title poem in particular, which took around two years start to finish – went through dozens of re-drafts, shedding portions that themselves turned into poems, or that proved to be the missing piece to another poem, or that added to what eventually became a 12-page compost-heap.  I love what’s fragmentary, what’s left out, but I also love the intuited shape, the impression that it might be whole; and it’s hard to make those fragments make a whole.

Thanks for these thoughts, Jordan, and congratulations!

Jordan Zandi holds an MFA from Boston University, where he was the recipient of an Elizabeth Leonard Fellowship and a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship.  His work has appeared inThe New Republic, Little Star, and elsewhere.  He is co-founder and poetry editor of Prodigal, a forthcoming literary magazine of poetry and essays.  His first poetry collection, Solarium, won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and will be published by Sarabande Books in February of 2016.

Beth O’Sullivan published in Belle Reve Literary Journal


Terrific news from Beth O’Sullivan (fiction 1983), whose short story, “Swings,” was published in the Belle Reve Literary Journal.  You can read the full story here.  Beth studied fiction at BU with Leslie Epstein and Jayne Anne Phillips, who will be re-joining our faculty this fall as a Visiting Professor.

Congratulations, Beth!

Beth O’Sullivan studied writing with a fellowship at the Boston University Creative Writing Program. She has published book reviews in The Boston Herald and stories in Free Parking, Sidelines, 236 Journal, The Tower Journal, Belle Reve Literary Journal, and upcoming in 99 Pine Street and After Happy Hour Review.  The support of two patrons enables her to write fiction in Paris part of the year. She advocates for others to similarly support individual artists.  It was just such patronship support that enabled To Kill A Mockingbird to be written.

Kelly Morse’s translations in Asymptote and nonfiction in Vela Magazine

Morse_VSC studio photo

Kelly Morse (poetry ’12) returned last week from the Vermont Studio Center, where she was writing on a grant.  Here’s a photo of the view from her studio!

We’re pleased to announce that two of the Vietnamese translations Kelly worked on in Rosanna Warren’s Translation Workshop have recently been published in Asymptote Journal. These are by contemporary poet Ly Doi, whose work is censored by the Vietnamese government. You can find “Read Instructions Carefully First Before Becoming a Poet” and “Just Who Do You Think I Am?” here.  Kelly went to Vietnam on her Global Fellowship when she was in the MFA program, and you can read more about her trip here.

In addition, Kelly’s flash creative nonfiction has recently been featured in Vela Magazine‘s ‘Bookmarked’ column. (Scroll down.)

Congratulations, Kelly!  And thank you for sharing that gorgeous photo with us.

Kelly Morse is a poet, creative nonfiction writer, and translator. Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Brevity, Alimentum, Quarter After Eight and elsewhere, while her translations have appeared in Asymptote. A graduate of Boston University’s MFA program, she has had work nominated for Best of the Net, and she is a Vermont Studio Center fellowship recipient.


Stacy Mattingly Works with IWP and Caracas-Sarajevo Colleagues to Help Launch Narrative Witness

StacyMattingly--ORIG QUALITY

We’re so proud to be sharing the latest news from Stacy Mattingly (fiction ’11), who has been helping to spearhead the first Narrative Witness exchange through the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP). The exchange brings together writers and photographers in two cities for online workshops and collaboration; the initial pairing was Caracas, Venezuela, and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Last summer, twenty-two writers and photographers came together with writing and photography facilitators to create work around the “narrative witness” theme. Online workshops were held in English, and translators created drafts from the Spanish and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian so all could participate in discussion and critique. A rich body of work and a new community evolved. IWP has just released the group’s multilingual collection of fiction, nonfiction, and photo essay. Texts are in Spanish, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, and English. Click here to view the work.

Stacy served as the exchange’s writing workshop facilitator and collection editor. “I’ve had the honor of working with a remarkable group of colleagues,” she says. “The collection is the product of rigor and excellence—and relationship.”

Congratulations, Stacy!

Stacy Mattingly is a U.S. writer and the founder of the Sarajevo Writers’ Workshop, a bilingual group of poets and prose writers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has been leading the workshop since 2012. Stacy holds an MFA in fiction from Boston University, where she was a Marcia Trimble Fellow, a Leslie Epstein Global Fellow, and recipient of the Florence Engel Randall Graduate Fiction Award. She has worked as a collaborative writer for people in the news on books including, with Ashley Smith, the New York Times bestseller Unlikely Angel, which recounts an Atlanta hostage story now being made into a feature film starring Kate Mara (House of Cards) and David Oyelowo (Selma). Stacy has taught creative writing at Boston University and is slated to teach for Boston’s Grub Street. She is currently writer-in-residence at the Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and has just completed a first novel, set in the Balkans.

Lisa Hiton nominated for Pushcart Prize


We’re pleased to announce that Lisa Hiton (Poetry 2011) has been nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize!  Visit Lisa’s website here, where you can take a look at her poetry and essay publications.

Congratulations, Lisa!

Lisa Hiton holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Boston University and an M.Ed. in Arts in Education from Harvard University. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Literary Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Linebreak, and The Cortland Review, among others. She has received the Esther B Kahn Scholarship from 24Pearl Street at the Fine Arts Work Center and a nomination for the Pushcart Prize.

The MFA in Creative Writing: For Those Who Need to Write

This is a guest post by Michael Samuels (fiction 2015), who interviewed CW Program Director Karl Kirchwey for his take on the Creative Writing MFA.


Michael Samuels

For Karl Kirchwey, prize-winning poet, translator, and director of creative writing at BU, existential questions surround the school’s prestigious Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. The top-ranked program, whose alumni include Jhumpa Lahiri, Ha Jin, Elizabeth Alexander, and Rafael Campo, is not for the faint of heart. “What are you in fact preparing your students to do?” he sometimes asks himself. “Well, you’re preparing them to starve, right? Especially if they’re poets!”

That’s a joke, mostly, although Kirchwey is humble with the promises of an MFA: there’s no guarantee that the degree will make you a great writer. “That’s a question of how you were born,” he says, “what’s happened to you that might make writing an urgent necessity for you, what might have happened to you that has unfit you for any other activity in life.”

“There are writers who manage to actually combine careers,” Kirchwey clarifies, citing the “physician poet” Rafael Campo as the prime example. Since few people make a living from writing fiction or poetry alone, most former students of the program become teachers in the US and abroad, local journalists and foreign correspondents, translators, editors, founders and coordinators of publications and literary organizations – careers enriched by a creative writing background, and with time carved out for their own fiction and poetry.

In any case, for those who believe they have the skill and devotion, “identifying your own gift and identifying your desire to focus on that gift is something which can be respected,” Kirchwey says, “and which can be built on.” The program offers “more time for your own work, more time for reading, more time for making connections with other writers, more time for learning how to teach,” he explains. The Global Fellowship, unique to the program, also provides more time to write, an adventure to write about, and sometimes the international connection that leads to a post-graduation job abroad.

Before traveling the world, Kirchwey says it’s also extremely valuable that students find their place in the cultural universe. “Just as scientific progress is completely impossible without an acceptance and an understanding of the work that has come before,” Kirchwey explains, “our progress as artists but also as human beings is completely impossible without an understanding of the literature, the art, the music that has come before.”

Writing, says Kirchwey, means joining that stream. “It is not to avoid responsibility, it is not to live as an irresponsible artist, but it is instead to take the highest kind of responsibility.”

Michael Samuels is a current Fiction MFA candidate, and writes for the Office of Communications at Boston University College of Arts & Sciences.

Thank you, Michael!  

If you are a BU MFA student or alumnus and wish to write a post for this blog, please contact Catherine Con at crwr@bu.edu.