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

Dariel Suarez finalist for New American Press Fiction Prize


Terrific news for Dariel Suarez (Fiction 2012), whose book of short stories, A Kind of Solitude, has been selected as a finalist for the New American Press Fiction Prize! The official announcement can be found here.  The book includes several short stories that Dariel worked on while in the MFA program.

In addition, a story from the collection, “Otto’s Body,” has been accepted by the press’s Editor-In-Chief for publication in MAYDAY Magazine, where the contest finalists will be highlighted.

Congratulations, Dariel!

Dariel Suarez is the author of the chapbook In The Land of Tropical Martyrs, available from Backbone Press. He earned his M.F.A. in fiction at Boston University and is one of the founding editors of Middle Gray Magazine. He has taught creative writing at Boston University, the Boston Arts Academy, and Boston University’s Metropolitan College. Dariel’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals and magazines, including Michigan Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, The Florida Review, Southern Humanities Review, and The Caribbean Writer, as well as several anthologies. Dariel is currently finishing revisions on a novel about a Cuban political prisoner, titled The Playwright’s House.

Natasha Hakimi Zapata launches poetry series for Truthdig


Poetry alum Natasha Hakimi Zapata (MFA ’12) has just launched the poetry section of the award-winning news website, Truthdig!  Read the first poem here, and submit here.

Congrats, Natasha, and we’re looking forward to seeing more poems in Truthdig soon!

Natasha Hakimi Zapata is an Assistant Editor at the Webby Award-winning web site, Truthdig, as well as editor of its new poetry series. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American Literature at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain and holds a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Boston University and both a B.A. in Spanish and a B.A. in English with a creative writing concentration from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has received several awards for creative writing, including the May Merill Miller Award for Poetry in 2008 and 2010, the Ruth Brill Award for short fiction in 2010 and the Falling Leaves Award in 2010. Most recently she was awarded the 2012 Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship and was a semifinalist for the Dzanc Books/ Guernica International Literary Award. You can follow her on Twitter @natashakimiz and Facebook ( for more updates.

Renee Emerson’s book a finalist for 2014 Julie Suk Award


We’re excited to announce that Renee Emerson’s book, Keeping Me Still, is a finalist for the 2014 Jacar Press Julie Suk Award!  The award is given for the best poetry book published by an independent press.  This exquisite collection–some of which we had the pleasure of hearing at the Lowell Reading last fall–is full of tender and unexpected glimpses into relationships between sisters, mother and daughter, and husband and wife.  Buy your copy here.

Congratulations, Renee!  We’re so proud of you and will be keeping our fingers crossed.

Renee Emerson is the author of Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing 2014). Her poetry has been published in 32 Poems, Christianity and Literature, Indiana Review, Literary Mama, Southern Humanities Review, storySouth, and elsewhere. Renee teaches creative writing and composition at a small Christian university in Georgia, where she lives with her husband and daughters.

Laura Marris awarded MacDowell Colony Fellowship


Laura Marris (poetry ’13) has been awarded a month-long fellowship at the MacDowell Colony, the oldest and one of the most prestigious arts colonies in the United States!  Former MacDowell fellows of note include Michael Chabon and Thornton Wilder.  Laura will leave for New Hampshire in just a few days to work on poems and French translation.

Congratulations, Laura, and all best wishes for a productive fellowship!

Laura Marris has taught poetry at Boston University, most recently through Robert Pinsky’s Massive Open Online Course “The Art of Poetry.” Her work has received a Daniel Varoujan Prize from the New England Poetry Club and a Hurley Award from Boston University. Her poems, reviews, and translations have appeared in MeridianDMQ Review, H.O.W., SecousseThe Brooklyn Rail, and The Wallace Stevens Journal. She is currently working on a translation of Louis Guilloux’s novel Le Sang noir for the New York Review of Books Classics.