Center for Writers
Neil Smith's first book
This debut novel from Center graduate and editor of the late
Plots with Guns is a noir nightmare that asks how much is
too much in a relationship, and what is the cost of leaving? Ken
Bruen calls it “the darkest song I’ve ever read.”
“Because Lydia didn’t have arms or legs, she shelled out three
thousand bucks to a washed up middleweight named Cap to give her
beating of his life.” But the beating turns to murder, and the
murder into lust and desperation between Lydia and an underworld
clean-up man. Meanwhile, overgrown frat boy car thieves take up cop
killing as a side hobby. When these paths cross, a horror show of
violence unfolds as they all slide into a hell of their own design,
surrounded by the neon and noise of the casino strip on the
Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Anthony Neil Smith's
Psychosomatic. Violent, vivid, life
at hyper-speed. Forthcoming from
Point Blank Books.
Michelle Reese's collection of poems "Following Phia" has
been accepted for publication by WordTech Communications. It will
come out in June of 2006. Marvyn Petrucci (Ph.D. 2000)
continues to teach at Auburn University where he was nominated for
the 2004 Instructor Award. He has work in the Winter 2005 issue of
the Southern Humanities Review, forthcoming in the Santa
Clara Review, and in the current issue of The South Atlantic
Review, a regional MLA publication. Tracy Heinlein (M.A. 1997) serves as editor of the
literary and art magazine Crosscurrents at Washington
Community and Technical College Humanities. She also teaches for
North Seattle Community College, this summer an online course from
Beijing, China. Troy Camplin (M.A. 2000) took his doctorate
in the Humanities at UT-Dallas in August 2004. A recent poem can be
found at Poetry Renewal. Troy also recently gave a talk to the Dallas
Philosopher's Forum titled "The Emergence of Everything." He teaches
at Richland College in Dallas. John Hughes (M.A. 1984)
recently published The Novels and Short Stories of Frederick
Barthelme with The Edwin Mellen Press of New York. He is
teaching at Valencia Community College in Orlando, FL. Michael
Smith (Ph.D. 2002) has a short story, "Dos Mujeres," coming up
in the Texas Review, and another, "Anywhere," recently
published by the Summerset Review, was named a Notable Online
Story of 2004 by the Million Writers Award. Michael teaches at
Dermansky novel due in October from William Morrow
Dermansky's wonderful first novel, Twins, reminiscent of
She's Come Undone and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the
Nightime, will be released on October 1, 2005 by William
The book is available for pre-order.
Told in alternating voices, Twins is the heartfelt and
unsettling honest story of identical twin sisters trying to make it
to 18. Sue, younger by four long minutes, idolizes and resents the
seemingly perfect Chloe for being prettier, smarter, better than she
believes she can ever be. On their 13th birthday, the sisters get
tattoos to prove their bond is stronger than DNA.
Over the course of five years, the girls will survive heartbreak,
unhappy vacations, parental neglect, eating disorders, pill abuse,
and the first painful explorations of love and sex. As they try to
stay sane in the face of
turbulent, often confusing change, both
Chloe and Sue reach out to new mentors who will help them overcome
apathy and despair to redeem each other. Funny, bitter, and
affecting, TWINS introduces a supremely talented and confident
writer to watch.
Marcy Dermansky, a 1998 graduate of the Center for Writers, is the
winner of STORY Magazine's Carson McCullers prize for the
short story and the Smallmouth Press' Andre Dubus Novella
Competition. Her stories have been published in numerous literary
journals, including McSweeneys, The Alaska Quarterly
Review, and The Indiana Review, and included in the
anthology Love Stories: A Literary Companion to Tennis. She
is a film critic for About.com and belongs to the New York Online
Film Critics Society. She lives in Astoria, New York. She is not an
From the Amazon.com description: Out to see America and
satisfy his travel bug, W. T. Pfefferle resigned from his position
as director of the writing program at Johns Hopkins University and
hit the road to interview sixty-two poets about the significance of
place in their work. The lively conversations that resulted may
surprise with the potential meanings of a seemingly simple concept.
This gathering of voices and ideas is illustrated with photo and
word portraits from the road and represented with suitable poems.
The poets are James Harms, David Citino, Martha Collins, Linda
Gregerson, Richard Tillinghast, Orlando Ricardo Menes, Mark Strand,
Karen Volkman, Lisa Samuels, Marvin Bell, Michael Dennis Browne,
David Allan Evans, David Romtvedt, Sandra Alcosser, Robert Wrigley,
Nance Van Winckel, Christopher Howell, Mark Halperin, Jana Harris,
Sam Hamill, Barbara Drake, Floyd Skloot, Ralph Angel, Carol Muske-Dukes,
David St. John, Sharon Bryan, Donald Revell, Claudia Keelan, Alberto
Rios, Richard Shelton, Jane Miller, William Wenthe, Naomi Shihab
Nye, Peter Cooley, Miller Williams, Beth Ann Fennelly, Natasha
Trethewey, Denise Duhamel, Campbell McGrath, Terrance Hayes, Alan
Shapiro, Nikki Giovanni, Charles Wright, Rita Dove, Henry Taylor,
Dave Smith, Nicole Cooley, David Lehman, Lucie Brock-Broido, Michael
S. Harper, C. D. Wright, Mark Wunderlich, James Cummins, Frederick
Smock, Mark Jarman, Carl Phillips, Scott Cairns, Elizabeth Dodd,
Jonathan Holden, Bin Ramke, Kenneth Brewer, and Paisley Rekdal.
Poets on Place is an extraordinary
and unique collection of interviews with American poets.
Collected with intelligence and wit by W. T. Pfefferle
on his cross-country travels, these interviews on the
importance of place and landscape in poetry—better than
any anthology of poetry or prose I can think of—exhibit
the profound richness and dazzling diversity of
American poetry and its poets.”
- David St. John
“In Poets on Place, the intrepid and resourceful
explorer W. T. Pfefferle journeys deep into the American
heartland to stalk, record the sounds and songs of, and
photograph poets in their habitat. The result is a
fascinating series of portraits by an expert naturalist
and observer of a rare and often misunderstood species,
the American poet.”
- David Citino
"Every generation or so we are reminded that thinking
about “Place” is enormously significant, especially to
us North Americans. Notice the name: who we are is where
we are. “Place” is intelligence and emotion as well as
geography, but it IS geography, and this amazing
collection of interviews reminds us all of that fact and
of that glory.
- Bin Ramke
Theron Montgomery's novel published March 14, 2005
Theron Montgomery, a
1982 Ph.D. graduate of the Center for Writers, is
publishing his novel, The Procession with UKAPress. Pub date
is March 14, 2005. Theron teaches English and creative writing
at Troy University in Alabama. He is presently fiction Editor for
the international e-zine, The Blue Moon Review. Writing
about The Procession, Rick Bragg, author of
author of All Over But The Shoutin' and
Ava's Man, said, "Montgomery
just flat-out knows how to tell a rich, full, lovely story. He made
me love all over again my American South."
Darlin' Neal's recent stories
Neal, a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of the Center for Writers, now
teaching at James Madison University, has been writing and
publishing a lot recently, and in very good places. At our request
she sent a list of selected pieces of interest.
"Stone Rubbing" forthcoming in The Shore
The Arkansas Review, Volume 35, Number 3,
December 2004 (nominated for the Pushcart Prize)
Night Train, Issue IV, 2004
"Liddy" Thought Magazine, Issue 6, Spring/Summer 2004
"Things She Can Hear"
Puerto del Sol, Summer 2003
"Lafayette" The Gingko Tree Review, Volume 1, Number 1,
"Open House" The MacGuffin, Volume 20, Issue 1&2,
"Honey, Don't" Shenandoah, Volume 52, Number 1, Spring
"A Man Wrapped In Gold" The Southern Review, Volume 36,
Number 4, Autumn 2000
"Ghosts" The Oklahoma Review, Volume One, Issue One,
"Piercings" Caprice, November 1999
In addition to these, Darlin' Neal has a chapter on Larry Brown's Facing the Music appearing in Jean Cash's forthcoming book
Larry Brown: Voice of the Yeoman South.
10 new Excellence Fellowships for doctoral
students in creative writing
The Center for Writers has announced that beginning fall 2005 it
will offer, in addition to the usual array of teaching
assistantships, ten new teaching fellowships, each with a stipend of
$15,000 per year. Frederick Barthelme, Director of the Center, said,
"This is a remarkable investment in our program by the university.
We do manage to recruit excellent students from top schools, but we believe these new Excellence Fellowships will
increase our ability to compete on an equal footing with the best writing programs in
the nation." The Center for Writers is primarily a graduate
program in creative writing, housed in the English Department. At present the graduate enrollment in the
program is about 40 students, half on the M.A. track, and half on
the Ph.D. track. The new Excellence Fellowships, approved by the
administration in late fall, will bring the total number of graduate students in creative writing to
fifty. Click for details.
Ball awarded Arthur J. Schaible Memorial Cultural Enrichment
Angela Ball will be visiting the University of Alaska Fairbanks
soon to pick up the Arthur J. Schaible Memorial Cultural Enrichment
Award for literary or artistic presentations on the campus. Voted by
the faculty of the University, the Schaible Award notes that "the
impact of [Ball's] poetry has been recognized by faculty members
across many disciplines." The award carries with it a substantial
stipend and an expense-free trip to Alaska. Angela will travel
to Fairbanks to give readings and classes, and to receive this
Publishing is one of the essential elements of being a writer and
Center students are encouraged to try to place their work as soon as
they are ready. Recent reports: Jay Todd has work
forthcoming in the Chicago Quarterly Review; Carrie
Hoffman has new stories soon to be released in Center and
in Georgetown Review; Raymond Wachter and Jordan
Sanderson have co-authored an essay on Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
published on literaryencyclopedia.com;
Shanti Weiland has new poems in an anthology called The
Great American Poetry Show and in The Gihon Review; Regina Sakalaryios-Rogers will read her nonfiction at the
Writers in the Gallery, University of West Florida, in March; Ted
Roggenbuck has an essay on Faulkner's Benji Compson from The
Sound and the Fury forthcoming in Summer Mississippi
Quarterly; Bob Bartholomew has an article called "A
Return to the Natural Through Wilde Language" coming out in The
Thomas Wolfe Review; Peggy Price has work online in
Opium Magazine and
Ken Foster's anthology Dog Culture released in paperback
In addition to radio and television interviews throughout
Mississippi and Louisiana, Center for Writers doctoral student Ken Foster also did a series of readings and book signings for
the paperback release of his anthology Dog Culture, which
readings and signings supported animal rescue groups in New York
City, New Orleans, Tallahassee, Jackson, and other cities. His work
has been published recently in The Future Dictionary of America
(McSweeney's Books), Small Spiral Notebook, The Shore
(a new Canadian magazine), Urban Dog, and The Westchester
Journal News, where his book column, "Storied Shorts," appears
Documentary director options Barthelme book
Highly regarded independent filmmaker Gary Hawkins (The Rough
South of Harry Crews, The Rough South of Larry Brown)
hopes to make Elroy Nights (program director Frederick
Barthelme's 2004 novel) into a feature-length film with noted
Hollywood actor Will Patton. Patton and Hawkins worked together on
the 2002 documentary-with-fiction The Rough South of Larry Brown
which was very well received on the festival circuit.
has taught directing at the North Carolina School of the
Arts' School of Filmmaking and now teaches film at Duke University
and North Carolina State University.
His feature-length documentary The Rough South of Harry
Crews won an Emmy in 1991. Three of Barthelme's books, his first
novel Second Marriage, the short novel Tracer, and his
gambling novel Bob the Gambler, have been optioned for film,
though none has made it to the screen.
Whorton to sign books in Jackson, Bay St. Louis, New Orleans
Center for Writers Ph.D. graduate Jim Whorton, whose new novel
Frankland is noted below,
will be reading from his work and signing copies of the book at
Lemuria in Jackson on January 27th, and at Bookends bookstore in Bay
Saint Louis on the 28th. Thereafter he heads for New Orleans
and more book signings. Read a review
Leilani Hall's debut collection available in February 2005
Hall's collection of poems Swimming the Witch makes its
debut in February with Cherry Grove Collections. Swimming the
Witch moves between 17th century witch-hangings and
modern-day confessions as it explores the complexities of the
imperiled body. Relying on research from records of executions, the
poems speak to women otherwise unknown in history, “two feet above
the ground / …dress shoes / laced sharp as lancets” (from “Station
of Loss”). Contest judges comment this is a text rich in “pagan
ritual . . . imagery and physical transformation. . . . There is
intelligence here, and skill.”
Leilani Hall received her Ph.D. from the
Center for Writers in 2001 and is currently Assistant Professor of
English at California State University Northridge, where she teaches
creative writing and theories of poetry. She currently serves on
the AWP Steering Committee for the Creative Writing Pedagogy Forum.
Kimbrell wins National Endowment Award November 2004
James Kimbrell, who took his M.A. with us, and whose
second major collection of poems is scheduled for publication by
Sarabande next spring, has just been awarded an NEA Individual
Writers Grant. Kimbrell has been the recipient of the Whiting
Writer's Award, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, the "Discovery"/
Nation Award, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, and has twice
received the Academy of American Poets Prize. Recent poems, reviews
and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines and
anthologies such as Poetry, Field, Fence, The Nation, Prairie
Schooner, The Boston Book Review, American Poetry: The Next
Generation (Carnegie Mellon University Press) and The Bread Loaf
Anthology of New American Poets (University Press of New England).
He teaches at Florida State.
Victor Gishler's latest from Delacorte in April 05
Gischler's third novel
Suicide Squeeze follows a down and out repo man as he
chases a collectible baseball card signed by Joe Dimaggio, Marilyn
Monroe and Billy Wilder. But an eccentric Japanese billionaire and
former Yakuza boss wants the card for his Americana collection. A
blood-n-guts crime novel, but also a poke at pop culture and a
playful examination of how America constructs a national identity.
Forthcoming in April as a Delacorte hard cover. Publisher's
Weekly, reviewing Gischler's last book,
Pistol Poets, wrote "With this madcap sophomore outing,
after 2001's Edgar-nominated Gun Monkeys, Gischler challenges
Kinky Friedman for top slot in the zany noir subgenre of mystery
fiction--and for sheer mayhem and body count momentum, Gischler may
triumph. . . . a far-fetched but fast and viciously enjoyable read."
James Whorton Jr.'s new novel, coming
January 2005, gets terrific
Whorton Jr., whose novel Approximately Heaven was very well
received last year, is readying a new novel for release next spring,
and the reviewers are already raving about it. Publisher's
Weekly describes Frankland as a novel whose "quiet
but exuberantly sly wit and a winning narrator add up to a
thoroughly enjoyable escapade." And the Kirkus
Review Service, notoriously hard to please, describes the books
thus: "A comedy of misunderstandings blooms to perfection in
Whorton's enchanting and erudite caper, set in hillbilly eastern
Tennessee. . . . A joy." Advance reviews don't get much better. The
book is now available for ordering at
Amazon and at
Barnes & Noble.
Frankland will be published on
January 6, 2005, by the Free Press.
John Holman named director of Georgia State
Creative Writing Program
Holman, a 1993 Ph.D. graduate of the Center for Writers, was
recently named director of
creative writing at Georgia State University, where he teaches
along with poets Leon Stokesbury, David Bottoms, and Beth Gylys, and
fiction writers Sheri Joseph and Josh Russell. The Georgia State
program is a good one and it's been around a while. At present
they have about fifty students, about two-thirds in the MFA program,
and another fourteen or so in the Ph.D. program. Holman is best
known (so far) for his now-hard-to-come-by remarkable debut
collection of stories, Squabble, and a particularly odd and
marvelous first novel called
also available in hardcover at
Barnes & Noble.
wins 2005 Pushcart Prize
Professor Steven Barthelme has learned that his recent
story published in the prestigious Yale Review was awarded a Pushcart Prize
and will be included in the soon-to-be-published Pushcart Prize
XXIX: Best of the Small Presses, 2005 Edition. That important
annual anthology should be available in the first quarter of next
Kim Chinquee publishes, 2004-2005
recent note from one of our favorite alumni, Kim Chinquee,
reassures us that Kim is keeping up her torrid publishing pace.
Herewith a sampling of 2004 publications.
"Rummage” Quick Fiction. Forthcoming in 2005, “Books” Noon. Forthcoming in January 2005, “Formation”
Forthcoming in January 2005, “Slope” Noon.
January 2005, “Tabloid” Noon. Forthcoming in January 2005, “A
Slight Hole That Undid Itself” Noon. Forthcoming in January
2005, “Driveway” 5 Trope. Forthcoming in 2004, “Pretty Eyes”
Cottonwood. Forthcoming in 2004, “Layover” Hobart.
Forthcoming in Autumn 2004, “Party Tray” 3am Magazine.
Forthcoming in 2004, “Wreck” In Posse Review. Forthcoming
September 15, 2004, “Costume” Cake Train. Forthcoming in
October 2004, “Cowslip” Cake Train. Forthcoming in October
2004, “Fall” Cake Train. Forthcoming in October 2004,
“Mustard” Cake Train. Forthcoming in October 2004, “Beer and
Pizza” So to Speak. Forthcoming in September 2004, “Attic” Smoke Long Quarterly. August 2004, “Tree”
Magazine. July 2004, “Garden” Moonshinestill. July 2004,
“Polka” Surgery of Modern Warfare. July 2004, “Emergency” Strong Fiction. July 2004, “Bar Scene”
Salome. May 2004,
“Service” War, Literature and the Arts. March 2004, “Plaid
Blanket” Phantasmagoria. January 2004, “The Trauma Room” Thought Magazine. January 2004, “The Cookie Room”
Magazine. January 2004, “Bullet” Juked. January 2004,
“Boom Box” Noon. January 2004, “Yellow Telephone” Noon.
January 2004, “Cells” Noon. January 2004, “Pretty” Noon.
January 2004, “Sushi” Confrontation.
Angela Ball featured at Montevallo & other
Angela Ball was a featured poet at this
year’s Montevallo Literary Festival in Montevallo, Alabama, April
2-3. The weekend of readings and workshops also included poet Don
Bogen, fiction writers Sheri Joseph and Brad Watson, Center graduate
Rusty W. Spell, who read and provided musical entertainment, and others.
Ball read from her long poem on Cuba, The Museum of the
Revolution, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press.
Early this year Ball judged the Emily Pestana
Mason Poetry Award for East Georgia College. Emily Pestana, who
died in 2002, earned her Ph.D. at USM with Ball as major professor
before joining the English faculty at East Georgia, where she taught
for several years. In 2004, USM also inaugurated a poetry prize in
This spring Ball also served as judge of the
Academy of American Poets Award for the University of California,
Northridge, where another former student, poet Leilani Hall, is now
Assistant Professor of creative writing and literature.
Poetry by Angela Ball appears in current issues
of The Southeast Review and Great River Review.
Melanie Hendrix wins Mississippi Arts Grant
Melanie Hendrix, 1996 Ph.D. graduate of the Center for
Writers, won a $5000 2004 Mississippi Arts Grant to continue work on
her massive novel-in-progress.
Pfefferle book scheduled
Pfefferle, a Ph.D. graduate of the Center for Writers, published
poet, former Director of Composition at The Johns Hopkins
University, and author of the composition textbook Writing That
Matters, spent the past year traveling the country with his wife
in a 30 foot motor home. He interviewed 62 well known American poets
for a new book, Poets on Place (Utah State University Press
2005). Excerpts have been appearing in Poets & Writers magazine.
Angela Ball, long a mainstay of the Center for Writers at
Southern Miss, has stepped down after a year as chair of the English
Department. Angela is a prize-winning poet and the author of
four collections: Kneeling
Between Parked Cars, Possession, Quartet, and her
most recent book, The Museum of the Revolution: 58 Exhibits,
which was published in 1999 by Carnegie Mellon. Her poetry has
appeared in The New Yorker, Partisan Review, the
New Republic, Field, the Denver Quarterly, Ploughshares,
Grand Street, and elsewhere, and was included in Best American Poetry 2001.
She has represented
the United States
at the Poetry International Festival, Rotterdam, and the Colombian
International Poetry Festival, Bogotá. Professor Ball has received
grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National
Endowment for the Arts.
Frederick Barthelme finalist
for the 2004 PEN/Faulkner Award
Washington, DC-- Judges have selected five
books as finalists for the 2004 PEN/Faulkner Award
for Fiction, America’s largest peer-juried fiction prize. The
nominees are Frederick Barthelme for Elroy Nights
(Counterpoint); ZZ Packer for Drinking Coffee Elsewhere (Riverhead); Caryl Phillips for
A Distant Shore (Knopf); John
Updike for The Early Stories (Knopf); and Tobias Wolff for Old School (Knopf). The announcement was made today by the
directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Susan Richards Shreve and
Robert Stone, Co-Chairmen.
eventual winner, John Updike, received $15,000; the four
remaining finalists received $5000 each.
All five authors were honored during the 24th Annual PEN/Faulkner
Award ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library, located at 201
East Capitol Street, S.E., on Saturday, May 8, 2004, at 7 p.m.
In Frederick Barthelme’s Elroy Nights, a
fifty-something art professor falls into adventures with new friends
half his age in what one critic has called a “moody, brawling
meditation on the crises of middle age, on sex, longing, on the
transience and perdurability of dreams.” Set in coastal Mississippi,
it is Barthelme’s thirteenth novel, following The Law of Averages.
With his brother, Steven, he has also written a memoir, Double
Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss. Barthelme directs the
writing program at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The PEN/Faulkner Award was first given in 1981.
Past winners are Walter Abish, David Bradley, Toby Olson, Tobias
Wolff, Peter Taylor, Richard Wiley, T. Coraghessan Boyle, James
Salter, E.L. Doctorow, John Edgar Wideman (1984 and 1991), Don
DeLillo, E. Annie Proulx, David Guterson, Richard Ford, Gina
Berriault, Rafi Zabor, Michael Cunningham, Ha Jin, Philip Roth (1994
and 2001), Ann Patchett, and Sabina Murray.
David Berry retires
After more years than he cares to remember, David Berry (aka DC
Berry) has called it quits and retired from his position at The
University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Writers. Berry, a
much decorated poet with hundreds of poems published in major
national poetry venues, numerous books to his credit, including
Saigon Cemetery, Divorce Boxing,
and the recently published Zen Cancer Saloon, is a past
Charles Moorman Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and winner
of three excellence-in-teaching awards. Berry was always a quirky
and delightful presence at the Center and he will be sorely missed.
Poem in New Anthology
Angela Ball's poem, "An Attempt," which originally appeared in
Ploughshares, has been published in the new print anthology
Poetry Daily: 366 Poems from the World's Most Popular Poetry Website
(Sourcebooks; ISBN: 1-4022-0151-6; December 2003; $14.95), edited by
Diane Boller, Don Selby, and Chryss Yost, with advisory editors Rita
Dove and Dana Gioia.
Berry Takes Chapbook Contest
Cancer Saloon tells of DC Berry's adventure with cancer of the
spine. He tried to get off the couch last September (just another
day)--and couldn't; paralysis reached his chest before surgery
revealed the problem. Radiation and a sequence of small poems
(haikus) followed, written in the back of whatever book he was
reading at the time, usually about Buddha or Christ. This collection
he sent off to the chapbook contest at Black Warrior Review,
published by the University of Alabama; and of the 525 entries,
Berry's took first place and a check for $1500. Previous chapbook
authors published by BWR include W.S. Merwin and Rita Dove.
Zen Cancer Saloon will appear in the Spring/Summer 2004 issue
of Black Warrior Review. Berry retired from his long-held
post in the Center for Writers in May 2004.