Grant Quackenbush’s poetry debut forthcoming in October

Grant Quakenbush, portrait 1We’re excited to announce that Grant Quackenbush’s poetry book Off Topic is forthcoming from Pinyon Publishing this October!  Below is the cover of the book, an oil portrait of the author by Bradford J. Salamon.

Off Topic grew out of Grant’s BU thesis, which he continued to write  and revise during the spring and summer of 2020.  He says: I got really lucky because I only sent it out to about a half a dozen places before it was accepted in November. Since then I’ve continued to edit it in very small but important ways and now it is completely done. 

Congratulations, Grant!  We’re looking forward to reading your book.

Grant Quackenbush received his MFA from Boston University in 2019.  He recently published poems in Cultural Weekly, Rattleand Tammy.  His full-length debut poetry collection, Off Topic, will be published by Pinyon Publishing in October 2021.

Aaron Caycedo-Kimura and Julia Pike receive St. Botolph grants


headshot (3)We’re so pleased to announce that Aaron Caycedo-Kimura (Poetry ’20) and current fiction MFA Julia Pike have received Emerging Artists Awards this spring! Given by the St. Botolph Club Foundation in Boston, the grant is one of New England’s most prestigious, and supports musicians and visual artists as well as writers. We’re very proud to have had several St. Botolph award recipients from our program over the years, including Duy Doan (Poetry ’10), Kimberly Elkins (Fiction ’09), Neshat Khan (Fiction ’18), Jillian Jackson (Fiction ’15), Val Otarod (Fiction ’20), Sara Rivera (Poetry ’13), and Grace Yun (Fiction ’18)!

From Aaron’s winning application, a poem entitled “Hand Tilling”:

the smell of earth takes him back        to San Gabriel    the family

farm of rented acreage        before the War        before

Executive Order 9066        eviction        incarceration

From Julia’s winning application, a story entitled “If I Were a Different Kind of Person”:

Vindicated, Maeve started to run, past the trees at the edge of the sand, bleached bone-white, down to the edge of the water. She trailed her hand through the tip of a wave, then pulled back quickly, yelled “Freezing!” and stuck her fingers in her mouth. She could stay this young because everything had always been simple for her, Austin knew.

Congratulations, Aaron and Julia! We’re excited for you.

Aaron Caycedo-Kimura is a writer and visual artist. He is the author of Ubasute, which won the 2020 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition. His poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, DMQ Review, Tule Review, Louisiana Literature, The Night Heron Barks, and elsewhere. Aaron earned his MFA in creative writing from Boston University and is a recipient of a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry. He is also the author and illustrator of Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life (TarcherPerigee, 2017).

Since graduating from Amherst College in 2019, Julia Pike has been a yogurt swirler in Brooklyn, New York, an English teacher in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and a nanny in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, The Common, and Rookie Magazine. She lives in Boston, MA. 

Stacy Mattingly publishes essay in Off Assignment

StacyMattingly--photo to LitHub sent 072420

Stacy Mattingly (Fiction ’11) published a moving essay about a bit of family history in Off Assignment.  The essay, called “To the Spy I’m Named For,” is part of the excellent “Letter to a Stranger” column.  Read it here!

Off Assignment had this to say about the piece:

R was a spy, a diplomat from Mississippi, a CIA man in South America. What is the legacy of his name, of his shrouded past? Writing about her namesake, author @stacemattingly lifts the veil on the mysterious generational impulses that guide our paths, taking us from the American South to Sarajevo to snowy Boston to tell us a family story that delicately navigates the line between the memorable and the unknowable. 

Stacy also contributed a “Behind the Essay” interview, which you can find here or linked in her bio below the essay.

Congratulations, Stacy!

Stacy Mattingly is a writer living in Boston. She launched the Sarajevo Writers’ Workshop in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2012 and later helped lead the first Narrative Witness exchange (Caracas-Sarajevo) for the International Writing Program. She has recently completed a first novel set in the present-day Balkans.

Current poets celebrate National Poetry Month with on-campus readings

outdoor poetry

We’re so pleased to share news from one of our current poets, Sean Beckett. A talented spoken word artist, Sean brought his love of poetry to students as a teacher at Boston Arts Academy last fall. This spring, he organized an outdoor reading series on Marsh Plaza for both his BU classmates and the Boston community.

Sean says: This spring for National Poetry Month, the 2020-2021 BU MFA Poetry students (AKA The Covid Cohort) have been doing a series of informal outdoor readings. Affectionately dubbed “Poetry on Marsh Plaza,” (P.O.M.P.) for short, this has been a wonderful opportunity to hear fresh poetry, connect with fellow students, and give the gift of poetry to the broader Boston community. We have shared both favorite poems and our own works, some thousands of years old and some written in the last month! Several spontaneous readers have joined us– everyone fScreen Shot 2021-04-26 at 5.07.55 PMrom a BU faculty emeritus who recited a Frost poem to an undergraduate who performed “Invictus” from memory. One of the greatest treats has been hearing the thesis-poems-in-progress of current MFA students Ari Kaplan and Natalie Bavar read aloud, as well as some of their earlier work.   Thanks to the generosity of the Creative Writing Program, we’ve had a wonderful sound set-up ideal for the outdoor fun.

If you are interested in popping over for a reading on campus, or having us bring one to you somewhere in Boston, let us know!

Thank you, Sean!

Jason Barry published in 32 Poems


Jason Barry (Poetry 2019) has published a poem called “Fishing” in the latest issue of 32 Poems!

Jason says, “Fishing” was written in memory of Dr. Kim Bridgford – the poet and director of Poetry by the Sea, an annual writers conference held in Madison, Connecticut. I was awarded a scholarship to attend the inaugural conference in 2015, and it was the first time I shared my poems with peers in a formal workshop. I am forever grateful to Kim for her generosity, encouragement, and dedication to the art of poetry.

Read more about Kim Bridgford here.

Thank you, Jason, and congratulations!

Jason Barry’s poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, Raintown Review, and elsewhere. He earned his MFA at Boston University and currently teaches at Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University.

Caroline Woods’ second novel to be published by Knopf Doubleday


We’re proud to share that Caroline Woods (Fiction ’08) has signed with Knopf Doubleday to publish her second novel, The Lunar Housewife, in 2022! The novel is inspired by the CIA’s manipulation of arts and letters during the Cold War and follows a journalist who faces a mix of censorship, surveillance, and gaslighting when she pens a subversively feminist novel and forms an unlikely friendship with Ernest Hemingway.

Hearty congratulations, Caroline!

Caroline Woods is the author of the novel Fräulein M. (Gallery Books).  She currently teaches creative writing for GrubStreet Online, and she has previously taught at Loyola University Chicago, BU, and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music.  Her short fiction has been published in Slice Magazine (which nominated her for a Pushcart Prize), LEMON, and 236, BU Creative Writing’s Literary Journal. She has also written for Literary Hub, The Scene, and other publications.


Chloe Martinez publishes chapbook with Backbone Press

Chloe pic 2019We’re so excited to announce that Chloe Martinez (Poetry ’07) has published a chapbook!  The book, Corner Shrinewas the winner of the of the Backbone Press Chapbook Contest.

Chloe says, These poems have come out of many years of travel and study in India, and they engage with questions of identity and belonging. They were written over a long period, some going back to my time at BU and some much more recent (but all, always, bettered by my time with my BU teachers!). It has been strange to have this book come out during a pandemic, but it’s also been a gift, when I haven’t traveled in nearly a year, to revisit India and the experience of travel via these poems. I hope it can give readers a change of scene, too.

Read more about Corner Shrine (including a blurb from Robert Pinsky!) here.
Congratulations, Chloe!

Chloe Martinez is a poet and scholar of South Asian religions. Her chapbook, Corner Shrine (Backbone Press, 2020), was selected by Geffrey Davis as the winner of the 2019 Backbone Press Chapbook Competition, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Waxwing, Shenandoah, The Common and elsewhere. She teaches at Claremont McKenna College. See more at

Kate McGunagle published in Five Points


Kate McGunagle’s (Fiction 2015) story “Girls” appeared in the December issue of Five Points!

“Girls” examines sexual awakening and its paradoxes in the small western town.

Congratulations, Kate!

Kate McGunagle is a 2015 graduate of BU’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and holds a B.A. from Princeton University. This is her debut publication.

Stephanie Mullings published in Open Ceilings

sm headshot 2

We’re excited to announce that Stephanie Mullings (Fiction ’19) published a short story in Open Ceilingsa literary journal housed at UC Davis!  Stephanie wrote the story for Leslie Epstein’s fiction workshop at BU.

Stephanie says: “Teammates” is the fraught coming of age experience. It’s the delicateness of navigating the terms of your identity, or friendships, or love. I wanted to speak to this, and also aimed for my writing to address these experiences within the context of the Black community.

Thank you, Stephanie, and congratulations on your story!  We wish you the best at USC.

Stephanie Mullings is a Chicago native and graduate of Boston University’s Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts program. She is a recipient of the Roy Cowden Memorial Fellowship, awarded for short fiction at the University of Michigan. Presently, Stephanie is a Creative Writing and Literature doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California.

Ani Gjika on Louise Gluck as teacher


Ani Gjika (Poetry ’11) has written a gorgeous essay on Nobel-Prize-winning poet Louise Glück for World Literature Today, and we’re delighted to share it here.

From the essay:
…in poems, and at work as a teacher, [Louise] was a master at swerving, surprising you with the unexpected way she looked at things. But it was not the kind of surprise that comes from acrobatic, linguistic tricks. She’s a master at swerving because arriving at truth is never linear.

Thank you, Ani, and congrats!

Ani Gjika (@Ani_Gjika) is an Albanian-born writer, author, and translator of eight books and chapbooks of poetry. Her translation of Luljeta Lleshanaku’s Negative Space (New Directions / Bloodaxe Books, 2018) was a PEN Award finalist and shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize. The recipient of an NEA grant, English PEN, the Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship, and Pauline Scheer Fellowship from GrubStreet’s Memoir Incubator Program, Gjika teaches writing at Framingham State University. Her translation of the eponymous poem of Negative Space appeared in the digital edition of the November 2014 issue of WLT, along with the poems “History Class” and “According to Index.”