Wednesday, October 27, 2010

3rd Year Student Profile: Peter Brooks

Originally from Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Peter is a 3rd MFA student studying poetry and aiming to enter into a Rhetoric/Professional Communication and/or Cultural Studies PhD program post-NMSU.  Peter appreciates the three year MFA program because it has allowed him concentrate on his craft while also exploring other disciplines in his coursework.  His current thesis about his hometown has drawn on other classes as much as it has his time growing up in Wisconsin.  Surveys on William Blake and Walt Whitman along with a Practicum in Grammar expanded his writing repertoire and inspired his interest toward identity theory in and out of creative writing.

During his time, Peter has been a part of the Borderlands Writing Project and NMSU Teaching Academy.  Both experiences have helped him on his career to be a college instructor and provided ideas for the courses he’s taught.  Along with two of his colleagues, Daniel (MFA Fiction) and Meg (PhD RPC), Peter is tri-editor of The FUN Journal, an online journal dedicated to the fun of craft and writing.  Many contributors to The FUN Journal have also been Las Cruces community members he’s read with at Open Mics and Poetry Events.  In his last year Peter continues to host POPS/MOPS with another colleague, Melanie (MFA Fiction), works with Puerto del Sol as an associate editor, and serves as the Online Writing Center Coordinator.

Before all this writing craziness Peter was a full-time RHD at Arizona State, University of Missouri-Columbia, and University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.  The past year Peter has still been involved in housing speaking at the Wisconsin United Residence Hall Association 2010 Conference and the University of Wisconsin Community Colleges Leadership Conference.  While he does not miss 3am phone calls about students vomiting all over themselves, he does appreciate the value of cultivating living learning communities.

Peter draws his influence from poets interested in city writing and the social/cultural life within those places.  Langston Hughes, Martin Espada, Walt Whitman, Mina Loy, and Pablo Neruda have been some of his influences.  Peter has been a three year contributor to the Wisconsin Poet’s Calendar published by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and recently received 3rd place in’s poetry contest.  During the few free minutes he has, he enjoys Scrabble, long walks around Las Cruces, and team trivia.

Peter will have his public reading on April 15th with Rachel Levitsky.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Joshua Marie Wilkinson Reading Photographs

Check out a few photographs from Joshua Marie Wilkinson's reading here at New Mexico State last Tuesday night, October 19th. He was accompanied by banjo player Solan Jensen.

Photos courtesy of Josh Bowen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Borderlands Writing Project

Borderlands Writing Project
by Peter Brooks, 3rd year Poetry MFA

The NMSU Borderlands Writing Project (BWP) is a part of the National Writing Project.  Meant to provide a communal forum to discuss, research, present, write, and share with teachers and students alike, BWP is a great experience for an MFA student.  Last summer I was fortunate enough to have taken the 6 credit summer session and found the benefits bountiful as a writer and student. BWP’s curriculum covers all aspects of English; Rhetoric, Literature, and Creative Writing.

We started out each day by having a free writing session, followed by voluntary sharing.  Those morning warm-ups were a great way to get your brain working and allowed some opportunity to either reflect or write creatively.  The daily reading and research not only provided me with a broad basis of cultural literacy and pedagogical techniques, but I was able to understand my own MFA thesis’ direction better.  I am now able to articulate the approaches I’m using on a rhetorical and academic level, in addition to craft.  Most importantly, BWP is a great way to build community.  The different perspectives from teachers, instructors, and even non-academic professionals truly helps expand our MFA world.  Even if you do not have the intention toward a teaching career, BWP creates relationships that allow you to share your future writing.
Summer 2010 BWP participants
In a summer when I was worried I would be “freaking out” over my thesis, I found the Borderlands Writing Project a great communal space to write and reflect.  I encourage any current or future MFA student to make the most of this unique opportunity.

For more information about BWP, visit this site.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

3rd Year Student Profile: Robert Alan Wendeborn

Robert Alan Wendeborn is a third year MFA poetry student from Aztec, a small town in Northern New Mexico.  He was awarded a fellowship from the Las Cruces Organization of the Literary Arts last November to write in Tuscany over the summer in 2010.  It was an amazing opportunity for him and he’s very grateful.  He feels like his thesis is a million times better for it.  

Robert at his public reading, 9/10/10

Robert is currently an intern for Professor Richard Greenfield's small press, 
Apostrophe Books.  He finds working with a small press incredibly helpful as a writer.  Robert says of the experience, “every time I work on something for the press I feel like I'm doing something to make me a better writer and poet.”  He is working on typesetting the new book and getting ready to help promote it as well.  He is also currently a poetry editor for Puerto del Sol.  He loves his co-workers at PDS and thinks they are the reason PDS is so cool.

His thesis, tentatively titled I Versus You (There Is No ‘I’ In Mouth, s-k-I-n, and Skin & Mouth Disease are also being considered (he needs help)), is a series of poems that explore gender and identity through the deconstruction of relationships.  Some of his older poems can be found online, though most of those won't be in his thesis.  Works from I Versus You can be found at and others are forthcoming in the October issue of PANK, and the next issue of M Review, both online literary journals.

His interests outside of poetry include food, cooking, biking, traveling, commercials, body art/modification and fashion.  After he graduate
s, he hopes to attend a Phd program in creative writing or move to Detroit to teach high school/plant a garden.

Monday, October 18, 2010

On Gender and Publishing: A Panel Moderated by Carmen Giménez Smith

Poet and NMSU professor Carmen Giménez Smith, who edits both Puerto del Sol and Noemi Press, moderated a panel about gender and publishing for VIDA, the new women-in-the-literary arts organization. Tracy Bowling, a 3rd year MFA Fiction student who edits Uncanny Valley with her husband Mike, participated in the panel along with several other writers, editors, publishers and teachers. 

Carmen is also on the Outreach Committee for VIDA, a great new organization. Head on over to their site and check out the panel, as well as the other important work VIDA is doing in the literary world.

On a related note, MFA Poetry 09' grad Kara Dorris has just started a new poetry journal, Lingerpost. Submissions are open until November, so read the submission guidelines and send your poems!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Joshua Marie Wilkinson Reading Tues Oct 19

Joshua Marie Wilkinson will be reading on Tuesday, October 19, 7:30 PM in the Health and Social Sciences Annex Auditorium (lower level)--the new building adjacent to the English Building.

Poet Joshua Marie Wilkinson, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, will be accompanied by Solan Jensen playing banjo. He is the author of five books, most recently Selenography. He has also edited two anthologies for University of Iowa Press, including Poets on Teaching. A tour documentary about the band Califone, entitled Made a Machine by Describing the Landscape, is also forthcoming. He teaches at Loyola University in Chicago.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

3rd Year Student Profile: Elizabeth Brasher

Note: This is the first in a series profiling New Mexico State University MFA students in their 3rd and last year of the program. Check back weekly or so to learn about the intellectually and creatively diverse graduate students studying writing here at NMSU.

Elizabeth Brasher

Originally from the three-stoplight town of Bloomfield, New Mexico, Elizabeth Brasher is currently completing her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry at NMSU, where she teaches composition and creative writing and works as an associate editor for the literary journal, Puerto del Sol. Elizabeth is an assistant editor for Bone Bouquet, an online journal of women’s poetry, and she writes for Feminist Review. She is also a volunteer with Women for Afghan Women. She holds an MA in literature and a BA in English, and lives in Las Cruces with her husband and daughter.

Her work, mostly poetry and essay, focuses on the intersections between Women as a construct and women in the everyday domestic and work environments. Her work has not made an appearance in any literary journals, but she remains slightly optimistic about the possibility. She would like to teach creative writing at a college or university after she graduates.

Elizabeth will have her public reading on October 22nd with poet Cynthia Hogue, as part of the La Sociedad Para Las Artes Nelson/Boswell Reading Series

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Winter 2010 Puerto Del Sol

Pre-order the Winter 2010 issue of Puerto Del Sol here.  Puerto is edited by Carmen Gimenez Smith and Evan Lavender-Smith, and has several NMSU creative writing students on staff.

If you'd like to read some excerpts from past issues of the journal, check out the archive.

Friday, October 8, 2010

La Sociedad Para Las Artes

La Sociedad Para Las Artes is the creative writing graduate student organization here at NMSU. We coordinate WITS (Writers In The Schools), the Nelson/Boswell reading series (visiting writers reading on campus, for free) and the annual Hunger Benefit, a reading event that raises money for Casa de Los Peregrinos, a food bank here in Las Cruces.

We're currently gearing up for this year's Hunger Benefit, scheduled for November 12th. The featured reader will be nonfiction writer Charles Bowden, who most recently published a book about Cuidad Juarez, Murder City. NMSU librarian Molly Molloy was instrumental in the research for the book, which details the growing crisis in Juarez, which borders El Paso (about 50 minutes away from Las Cruces). Both Bowden and Molloy visited Rus Bradburd's Monday night nonfiction workshop this semester to discuss the book. The Hunger Benefit should be a great event: a great reader and a good cause. We'll also have carnival games, a chili cook-off, live music, and a silent auction.

If you'd like more information (not to mention pictures!) about the Hunger Benefit or La Sociedad, please visit our Facebook page.

Monday, October 4, 2010

NMSU MFA Alumni Projects

Check out just a few of the fascinating creative projects spearheaded by NMSU MFA program alumni:

MFA Fiction 04' Albert Martinez has an awesome website, Lively Words, where he features video footage of writers reading their work. Several people associated with the MFA program at New Mexico State have participated in his project, including former professors Antonya Nelson and Robert Boswell, current professor Connie Voisine and graduates Tim Staley and Dorine Jennette.

MFA Fiction 05' graduate Jacquie Fuller also has a website project, How I Found You. How I Found You "wants to know how you found someone, or something, significant in your life. How you found them for the first time, how you found them again. How they changed you forever." (from the website) Like Lively Words, you can find several submissions from people associated with the program, including former professors Kevin McIlvoy and Sheila Black. 

Voices Behind Walls is a creative writing workshop program started by MFA Poetry 08' alum Lee Rhyanes.  The program takes place in juvenile detention centers in the Southwest and encourages juvenile offenders to express themselves through poetry.  Read the interesting story of how the workshop developed on the website and sign up for the newsletter. Lee, along with NMSU Literature graduate Justin DeSenso, was also instrumental in helping to create "Hip-Hop Stacks," a catalog of hip-hop literature, music, art and scholarship now located at the Branson Library on the New Mexico State University campus.