Chatham News

Low-Res MFA program presents free reading and book signing by poet Mary Swander on August 5

By: Amanda Leff Ritchie, Senior Public Relations Specialist
July 13, 2011

PITTSBURGH (July 11, 2011) … The Chatham University Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing program will celebrate its 2011 residency with a free public reading by Mary Swander, poet laureate of Iowa, on Friday, August 5. The evening will begin with a reception from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Mellon Board Room, followed by Ms. Swander’s keynote address titled “The Role of the Writer in a World of Peak Everything” from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a book signing to follow. For more information contact Peter Oresick at 412-365-1264 or

August 1-10 marks the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing program’s third residency period, when students from the online program participate in intensive writing, studying, and lecture sessions at Chatham’s Shadyside and Eden Hall Campuses. Launched in 2008, the Low-Res MFA is a 39-credit program that can be completed in two years with two summer residencies of ten days each. The program grew from Chatham’s highly acclaimed residency program and maintains the same innovative focus on nature, environment, and travel writing. In lieu of writing workshops each term, students receive mentorships with a publishing writer.

Ms. Swander is a professor of English and a Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University. She is the author of The Girls on the Roof, (2009); The Desert Pilgrim: En Route to Mysticism and Miracles, (2004); Out of this World: A Journey of Healing, (2008); Driving the Body Back, (1998); Parsnips in the Snow: Talks with Midwestern Gardeners, (1990); Succession, (1979); and Heaven-and-Earth House, (1994). In addition, she is the co-editor of Land of the Fragile Giants, (1994) and her work is included in the anthology The Healing Circle, (1998).

She has won numerous awards, including an Iowa Author’s Award (2006), a Whiting Award (The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, 1994), a National Endowment for the Arts grant for the Literary Arts (1986), two Ingram Merrill Awards (1980, 1986), the Carl Sandburg Literary Award (The Chicago Public Library, 1981), and the Nation-Discovery Award (The Nation magazine, 1976). Publisher’s Weekly named Parsnips in the Snow one of the best books of 1990, and the Garden Writers Association of America awarded Swander their Quill and Trowel Award for best magazine writing of 1993.

Ms. Swander’s poems, essays, short stories, and articles have been published in The NationNational Gardening MagazineThe New RepublicThe New YorkerThe New York Times Magazine, and Poetry magazine.

She received her M.F.A from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.

About Chatham University

Chatham University prepares students from around the world to help develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Consistently ranked among the top master’s level institutions in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, Chatham University is also ranked in the top five percent of graduate-intensive institutions nationally and experienced the fastest-growing enrollment in the Pittsburgh region over the past decade. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum and Chatham Eastside facility; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information, call 800-837-1290 or visit