Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Blog Update: We Have Moved!

This blog serves as an archive of the people and events of the NMSU MFA program from 2010-2013. We now post updates about our program at https://www.facebook.com/NMSUMFA/. Please follow our page!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some Photos From Carrie Murphy/Patrick Clark's Reading

Recent MFA graduate Carrie Murphy reading from her book, "Pretty Tilt."

She read hard and had the crowd eating out of her hand...

 Patrick Clark, about to graduate with an MFA in poetry, thanks the crowd for their support.


To mix things up a bit, he played an original composition based on one of his poems.

Don't forget the MC, Robert Houghton, also soon to graduate. (Photos thanks to Yvette Lopez)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Alert!

As you may or may not know, our reading series this year features all NMSU writers--faculty or former students who recently have published books. This book is by Rus Bradburd, a person who is both.

Here's a link to an excerpt of the novel.

Rus Bradburd will be reading from his work on February 15, at 7:30 pm in Hardman Hall 106. 


Professor Richard Greenfield will be presenting at the Berkeley Conference on Ecopoetics, presenting on this panel:

The Book, Ecopoetic Instrument
Richard Greenfield, Brenda Iijima, Jared Stanley, Tyrone Williams

“All earthly existence must ultimately be contained in a book. It terrifies me to think of the qualities (among them genius, certainly) which the author of such a work will have to possess. I am one of the unpossessed. We will let that pass and imagine that it bears no author’s name.” – Mallarme, The Book as Spiritual Instrument
Engaging Mallarme’s provocative statement about the book and turning it inside out, this panel will propose various ways in which the form of the book, as a carrier of ecopoetic content, far from being conclusive and all-encompassing, engages interrelation as an aspect or avatar of the oikos. The panel will consider wreading as a bodily and historical process, in which historical land surveys can be re-read as aberrant ecopoetic texts, vernacular rock writing can be read (and re-written) as texts which are radically in context, and in which dance and sculpture can perform outside/beyond/in excess of text to agitate affect.
The “papers”, or “talks” or “demonstrations” will vigorously call into question whether the book and its occasions for reading – on the couch, in the library – are the appropriate site, or place, for ecopoetics. We’ll explore work that critically engages experientiality, which works outside, beyond, and in excess of conventional textuality, and showcases the body as the multi-locational and ever-changing generator of thinking. Readers participate in meanings with more of our sensory organs when texts are performed in time, or are located, in space, moving poetry from the noosphere to the biosphere, allowing the poem to act as a catalyzing form embedded, ecologically, in place and time. As a result, the panel will present ways in which ecopoetics can trouble the poem’s relationship to the book.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reading Series 2013

NMSU's Nelson/Boswell Distinguished Writers Series this year features all graduates of our program who have gone to publish books, edit magazines and presses, and labor in the fields of literature. For the season finale, author David Shields (not an NMSU graduate) will be reading from his new book, How Literature Saved My Life. Faculty members Carmen Smith and Rus Bradburd also will read from their new books. Smith from Goodbye, Flicker, on September 7th, and Bradburd from Make It, Take It on February 15th. All readings feature a graduate student reader and begin at 7:30 in 106 Hardman Hall unless otherwise indicated.

Darlin Neal September 28th

Darlin’ Neal is a native New Mexican and author of the story collections Elegant Punk (Press 53, 2012) and Rattlesnakes & The Moon (Press 53, 2010). She is the 2011 winner of DH Lawrence Fellowship from the Taos Summer Writers Conference, their highest honor. Her short stories, essays, poems, and reviews have appeared in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies, including The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Eleven Eleven, The Mississippi Review, Puerto del Sol, and Best Of The Web. Neal is a Mississippi Arts Commission awardee in the Literary Arts, and a winner of the Henfield Prize. As a graduate student at NMSU, she was a Frank Waters Fiction Fellowship recipient. Her first collection, Rattlesnakes & The Moon, was nominated for numerous awards including The Story Prize and The Pen Faulkner Award. Her short stories and nonfiction have been nominated over a dozen times for the Pushcart Prize. She serves as faculty advisor for The University of Central Florida’s award winning undergraduate literary magazine The Cypress Dome, and for The Writers In The Sun Reading Series for which she brings in writers of national caliber each semester. She is Fiction Editor of The Florida Review.

Richard Yañez--October 18th

Richard Yañez was born and raised on the U.S.-Mexico border. He is the author of Cross Over
Water: A Novel and El Paso del Norte: Stories on the Border, both published by the University
of Nevada Press. Named a 2012 Top Ten “New Latino Author” by Latino Stories, both books
were cited as “Notable Books” by Southwest Books of the Year. El Paso del Norte was a finalist
for the Steven Turner Book Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, and Cross Over Water
is a finalist for a ForeWord Book of the Year Award (multicultural fiction) and an International
Latino Book Award (Best Novel-adventure/drama in English).
His stories and essays are anthologized in Mirrors Beneath The Earth: Short Fiction by Chicano Writers, Our Working Lives: Stories of People and Work, Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of
Texas Mexican Literature, Literary El Paso, U.S. Latino Literature Today, and New Border.
Gary Soto selected his story, “Sacred Heart,” for the Chicano Chapbook Series.
He has served as editor for Puerto del Sol, Colorado Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review,
BorderSenses, Momotombo Press, and the Writer’s Chronicle. His service work includes
contributions to the Border Book Festival, Con Tinta: A Chicano/Latino Writers’ Collective, El
Paso Literary Fiesta, and RIPPLES Literary/Cultural Series.
A graduate of New Mexico State University and Arizona State University, he earned a Riley
Scholar Fellowship from Colorado College and a Center for InterCultural Leadership Fellowship
from Saint Mary’s College (IN). Currently, he is an associate professor of English at El Paso
Community College, where he received the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award and a state
teaching award from The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.
He lives in El Paso with his wife, Chicana writer Carolina Monsiváis, and their son.

Patrick Donnelley October 18th

Patrick Donnelley is a native New Mexican and the author of The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003, since 2009 part of Copper Canyon Press) and Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2012). Donnelly is director of the Advanced Seminar, one of three summer programs at The Frost Place, a poetry conference center at Robert Frost’s old homestead in Franconia, NH. He is an associate editor of Poetry International, a contributing editor of Trans-Portal (www.transtudies.org), has taught writing at Colby College, the Lesley University MFA Program, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. In the 2012-2013 academic year he will teach a semester each at Smith College and George Washington University. He was Thornton writer-in-residence at Lynchburg College in 2006, is a 2008 recipient of an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, is a member of the Massachusetts Poetry Outreach Project Advisory Board. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, and has been anthologized in the Four Way Reader #2, The Book of Irish American Poetry from the 18th Century to the Present, and elsewhere. From the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, he received a scholarship in 2003 and a fellowship in 2004, and grants from the PEN Fund for Writers in 2000 and 2001. With Stephen D. Miller, Donnelly is co-translator of the Japanese poems in The Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period, a scholarly history and analysis forthcoming from Cornell East Asia Series in fall 2012. Donnelly and Miller’s translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Bateau, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Circumference, thedrunkenboat.com, eXchanges, Inquiring Mind, Kyoto Journal, Mead, Metamorphoses, New Plains Review, Noon: The Journal of the Short Poem, Poetry International and Like Clouds or Mists: Studies and Translations of Nō Plays of the Genpei War. Donnelly, in previous years, has performed as an actor and opera singer, worked as a professional chef and food writer, helped to coordinate a meal program for people with AIDS, cancer and heart disease, and taught health-supportive cooking and eating to senior citizens and people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. His spiritual curiosity has led him, at different times, to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood and to live as a Buddhist and a Muslim. Website: http://web.me.com/patricksdonnelly

Krystal Languel November 5th

Krystal Languell is the author of the poetry collection Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVox, 2011), the poems of which began as her MFA thesis at New Mexico State University. Her poems have appeared in Barn Owl Review, DIAGRAM, esque and elsewhere, and her reviews and interviews have been published online at NewPages and Coldfront. Founder of the feminist literary journal Bone Bouquet, she is part of the Belladonna Collaborative in Brooklyn and teaches writing at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Pratt Institute.

Andrew Scott November 30th

Andrew Scott is the author of Naked Summer, a story collection, and the editor of a forthcoming anthology, 24 Bar Blues: Two Dozen Tales of Bars, Booze, and the Blues. He holds writing degrees from Purdue University and New Mexico State University, where he was twice awarded a Frank Waters Fiction Fellowship. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in EsquireNinth LetterThe Cincinnati ReviewMid-American ReviewGlimmer Train StoriesThe Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications, and have been awarded grants from the state of Indiana and Ball State University, where he teaches. With his wife, writer Victoria Barrett, he edits Freight Stories, an online fiction journal. He lives in Indianapolis.

Carrie Murphy January 18th

Carrie Murphy is the author of a full-length collection of poetry, PRETTY TILT (Keyhole Press, 2012) and a chapbook, MEET THE LAVENDERS (Birds of Lace, 2011). She received her MFA from New Mexico State University and her BA from the University of Maryland. Her work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, JMWW, PANK, and other journals and has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An essay was chosen as an Editor's Choice for Best of the Net 2011. Murphy also leads workshops at Washington D.C. area conferences on post-confessional poetry. She is also an active food writer on the web.

Valerie Fioravanti February 1st

The stories in Valerie Fioravanti’s Garbage Night at the Opera are grouped around an extended Italian-American family sharing one apartment building in Brooklyn as their neighborhood experiences a swift and financially devastating deindustrialization. The collection examines the consequences the loss of factory jobs has on individual, family, and community life. The stories move forward in time and across generations as the neighborhood rapidly deteriorates, languishes for a generation, then gentrifies.

Garbage Night at the Opera won the 2011 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction and is forthcoming from BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City) in October 2012. Garbage Night at the Opera was also a two-time finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award. Stories from the collection have received four Pushcart Prize and one Million Writers Award nominations. These stories have appeared in North American Review, Cimarron Review, Hunger Mountain, Night Train, and other literary journalsThe title story, “Garbage Night at the Opera,” was awarded Special Mention in Pushcart Prize XXVIII, and has been anthologized twice more. A first-generation college student, Valerie received a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy to work on her novel-in-progress, Bel Casino, and won both the Fiction & Poetry Prizes as an MFA candidate at New Mexico State University.

Valerie also writes poems and essays. Her first published poem, “Letter Ghost,” received a Pushcart Prize nomination. Her essays and poems have appeared in Eclectica, Silk Road, Jelly Bucket, and other literary journals. Valerie teaches for the UCLA Writers Program online and lives in Sacramento, where she promotes the work of other writers via the Stories on Stage reading series.

John Chávez March 15th

John Chávez grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and spent a significant amount of time in southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico, the inspiration for his early poetry. He received his bachelors degree in Creative Writing from Colorado State University, and later received his Master of Arts at Central Michigan University and Master of Fine Arts at New Mexico State. He completed his Doctorate degree in Poetry under the supervision of Hilda Raz. At the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Chávez served as an editorial assistant for Ted Kooser's "American Life in Poetry," a syndicated newspaper column publishing contemporary poetry nationwide, and as one of two Senior Poetry Readers for Prairie Schooner. Awarded a month-long residency at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota, Chávez was the Letras Latinas Residency Fellow, cosponsored by the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Conduit, Portland Review, Puerto del Sol, Grist: The Journal for Writers, The Laurel Review, Palabra, Great River Review, Diode and Copper Nickel among others. He is the author of the chapbook Heterotopia, published by Noemi Press in 2004, and co-author of the chapbook I,NE: Iterations of the Junco, published by Small Fires Press in 2009. His first full-length poetry collection, City of Slow Dissolve, will be released fall 2012 by University of New Mexico Press.

Joey Nicoletti April 5th

Joey Nicoletti is the author of three poetry collections: Borrowed Dust, Earthquake Weather (NightBallet Press, 2012), and Cannoli Gangster, which was selected as a finalist for the Steel Toe Books Poetry Prize by Denise Duhamel (Word Tech, September 2012). His poems, reviews, and nonfiction essays have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Italian Americana, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Waccamaw, Aethlon, Gradiva: International Journal of Italian Poetry, Tulane Review, PIF, Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Bitter Oleander, Stymie Magazine, and The City of Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry. A short film, "Blue Train,” based on his poem of the same name, will be screened with five other short films inspired by poems from the new anthology Token Entry: Poems of the New York City Subway later this year as part of Jack Feldstein’s Subway Series. A graduate of the Sarah Lawrence College MFA program, the University of Iowa, and New Mexico State University, he is a former poetry editor of Puerto del Sol and currently teaches creative writing and English literature at Niagara University.

David Shields April 19th

David Shields is the author of thirteen books, the most recent being How Literature Saved My Life, forthcoming in February 2013 by Knopf. His other books include Jeff, One Lonely Guy, which was co-written by Jeff Ragsdale and Michael Logan (forthcoming from Amazon Publishing NYC on March 20, 2012); Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf, 2010), named one of the best books of the year by more than thirty publications; The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead (Knopf, 2008), a New York Times bestseller; Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity, winner of the PEN/Revson Award; and Dead Languages: A Novel, winner of the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. His essays and stories have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire,Yale Review, Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, and Utne Reader; he’s written reviews for the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Boston Globe, and Philadelphia Inquirer. His work has been translated into fifteen languages.

Winners of the Graduate Creative Writing Awards


The Frank Waters Award in Fiction was judged by writer Darlin’ Neal, who read here earlier this semester.

First Prize: Emily Haymans, "Tagalongs"

Judge’s Citation: This story is so felt.  There is so much longing. I
feel with the narrator and her beautiful observations.  This writer
made such lovely intuitive movements from scene to scene.  I will
remember this character and the place she lives.  I will remember her
missing Gimby because I shared that longing as I read along.

Second Prize: Barry Pearce, "Accidents"  

Judge’s Citation: What a marvel this writer has created: a character
who is willing the action of the story even as he feigns
unconsciousness on a hospital bed.  I thought the story's movement
came full circle.  I was so very touched by Izzy's plight.  I felt
bonded with him somehow.  I wanted, with him, for his father to reach
out.  I like this story.  I also think the writer should write this
novel.  I'd read it.

Third Prize: Paul French, "Nod"  

Judge’s Citation: Such fine dialogue and sense of place in this piece.  This
writer has a fine gut for action indeed.  Travis isn't someone I'd
think I'd care about but the keen attention to his visceral
experience, the keen attention and immersion in his sadness and the
way he himself is trapped by his own wayward path, well, all of those
things made me care.

Oh, and then the hard, hard decisions of what not to choose for final
three!  But here is a list of honorable mentions and I'm happy to give
feedback if the students would like it.

Honorable Mention

"Dinesh In Switzerland" – Gautam Emani

"Black Mirror" – Sessily Watt

"A Homecoming" – Philip Johnson

"Parallel Parking" – Christopher Rosenbluth

The Keith Wilson/Joe Somoza Poetry Prize was judged by poet John Chavez, who will read at NMSU in the spring semester of 2013.

First Place – Jacqueline Wang
“Willow Sisters,” et al.

Judge’s Citation: Attuned to the evocations of sight and sound, it is in “St. Anthony’s Fire” we readers feel addressed: “For you, I floated my glowing foot down the river to where you stood.” It’s into this space, the physical and psychic landscapes of this collection of poems, that we’re invited and asked to embrace the persona’s honesty.  With this in mind, we witness the “unwritten book” being intensely imagined and written, and as we do we become aware of the engagingly distinctive character of this poet’s craft.

Second Place – Laura Terry
“Alligator Alley,” et al.

Judge’s Citation: With the kind of tone that would make any southern musician proud, this collection of poems is an occasion for movement to happen, to Everglades City to the Micosukee Reservation and elsewhere, but in our travels were let into the stories that populate this persona(e)’s life and lives. And what jumps, though very different in location and point of view, is what the “ocotillo” and “yucca” tell us: this is a poet engaged with the world, neither separate from the world, nor recluse, simply in it and taking measure of every note.

Third Place – Robert Houghton
“for the impossible. Latent voyeurism on the peek. A ghost,” et al.

Judge’s Citation: This collection of poetry dares to make a world contingent upon the disjunctive for its oddness, and yet cohesiveness for its familiarity, and it does so to allow the reader to enter, to feel decentered but centered enough to live among the details. How then to square the seeming disparity? Experience the poems as they are meant, as Lowell reminds, to be experienced. Bring oneself to the language and let go.

The Ruth Scott Academy of American Poets Prize was also judged by John Chavez.

Winner – Nathan Taylor
“New Skin”

Judge’s Citation: I found myself with my ear close to these poems, listening to their music, engaging with their meditations, and in so doing I sat “deep as I” could “in the soul’s deep valley” as well. As each accumulating detailed unfolded I felt pulled into the poems and understood this is a poet who wants readers to feel “a small voice that licks / around the moon of / the ear” but only because the intimacy of poetry can set one on a path, as these poems are indicative, of personal inquiry.

Congratulations again to everyone!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Winners of the Jacobs Prize Announced

Adam Crittenden, MFA Creative Writing (Poetry) '12

Melanie Sweeney Bowen, MFA Creative Writing (Fiction) '12

The winners of the 2012 Jacobs Prize are

For Poetry: 

Empire Mind 
by Adam Crittenden

For Fiction: 
People We Will Let in the Fortress 
by Melanie Sweeney Bowen

Kevin McIlvoy was the judge. Below are his comments on these outstanding manuscripts:

People We Will Let in the Fortress by Melanie Sweeney Bowen

In these extraordinary pages from a linked book of stories, the author utterly transports the reader into the protagonist’s processes of conscience.  Fiction only rarely goes this distance in portraying how far inward a person must travel to truly feel the very ground of her heart, how far outward to recognize the figure of another’s ways of being.  These are short stories but they have novelistic scale, and it is particularly exciting to know that they are part of a large project reaching deeply into the mysteries of forgiveness and self-forgiveness, of losing trust and regaining it, of deliberately holding back the secret self and of offering it with impulsive loving compassion. The reader cannot hold back from rereading the wise and evocative passages of the two stories, “Earth to Nashville” and “People We Will Let in the Fortress.”  Here is one example (from “People We Will Let in the Fortress”) of how this masterful storyteller invites the reader to intimately experience the clear and confounding psychological crises of the characters: 

If there was anything she knew with certainty in this world, it was that the bad things never came on when you expected them, but rather when you couldn’t possibly have prepared. They felt deeply personal, yet at the same time reminded you of your irrelevance, how utterly random your brushes with loss and pain. Unlike her, she knew Oliver believed everything happened to him. Nothing felt irrelevant. In some ways, this perspective could make things easier; you could always wind your way back to some choice, some slip that set everything else in motion, and bypass the why-me questioning that plagued others. But it also made the world quite lonely, even cruel. If everything originated in some personal action or desire, then there was no escaping yourself. 

There is no doubt: People We Will Let in the Fortress will be a great book.

Empire Mind 
by Adam Crittenden

The poems in Empire Mind are tolling poems: from a steely distance they toll warning; from a dreamlike condition, they toll nightmare; from a creepy sense of the comic, they toll pain.  They call to mind Stephen Dunn’s “Loves” in which the ‘loving’ speaker of the poem invokes “church bells ringing stasis, stasis.” There is an out-of-body voice in these disturbing contemplations of this “garbage island,” of this ‘machine kingdom’ that is our violated planet.  The testament of the poems is of individuals and groups who have been shocked past responsiveness and reaction, have been buried alive and must speak to themselves from within the festering heap, from within the crusher (“Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, and Close the Lid”).  Reading “Temporal,” one feels the despair of the speaker who has been made mute by the torpor of the earth’s human population and has also become addicted to it: “If we study the past, then / we can better destroy each other / in the present.”  In the terrifying poem “The Machine Machine” the reader is given the facts by a speaker calculating the absurd “position” one might acquire in this doomed kingdom: “The Machine Machine is a machine / that eats maggots like me for lunch, / not breakfast. Breakfast maggots are different. // Those maggots are maggots / that wish they could trade in their animal cells / for a few good circuits.”   

The writer of Empire Mind has not flinched; in each poem, the result is a powerful fullness of horror. 

Thanks to all of you who submitted this year--it was a very competitive pool. And our thanks to Kevin McIlvoy for his efforts in supporting the endowment and carefully reading and considering the submissions. The winners will receive $500 each for the award.