Chatham News

Chatham University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program presents Bridges to Other Worlds,
Nov. 3-5

“Wild Thing, You Make My Heart Sing: The Essay in the 21st Century” is the theme of this year’s festival

By: Amanda Leff Ritchie, Senior Public Relations Specialist
October 24, 2011

PITTSBURGH (October 24, 2011) … Chatham University’s nationally-recognized Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program will present itsBridges to Other Worlds festival Nov. 3-5 at its Shadyside Campus. The theme of this year’s festival is “Wild Thing, You Make My Heart Sing: The Essay in the 21st Century.” In honor of Chatham’s Global Focus Year of Southeast Asia: Vietnam, poet John Balaban will kick off Bridges to Other Worlds with a discussion of Vietnamese literary culture and a reading from his celebrated translations at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 in the Welker Room in James Laughlin Music Hall. Other guest speakers at this year’s festival will include Faith Adiele (nonfiction), Barbara Hurd (poetry and nonfiction), Lori Jakiela (nonfiction and poetry), Phillip Lopate (fiction and poetry), Dinty Moore (fiction and nonfiction), and Michele Morano (nonfiction).

Bridges to Other Worlds will feature panel presentations, small group discussions, and readings that celebrate the contemporary essay. For more information, contact Sheryl St. Germain at or 412-661-1809. All events listed below are free and open to the public.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, Nov. 3

8 p.m. John Balaban, “Go Out One Day…” Welker Room, James Laughlin Music Hall

Friday, Nov. 4 (all events to be held in Mellon Board Room)

9 a.m. Opening remarks by Sheryl St. Germain, director of Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program

9:15 a.m. Keynote address by Phillip Lopate

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Travel writing discussion with Faith Adiele, John Balaban, Jane Fishman, and Michele Morano

12:30 – 2 p.m. Lunch with Faith Adiele—reading followed by book signing (box lunches available to be purchased in advance for $10)

2:15 – 3:45 p.m. Scat-singing Structure: Lyric and Formally Adventurous Nonfiction with Barbara Hurd, Dinty Moore, and Michele Morano

4 – 5:15 p.m. Reading and book signing with Dinty Moore and Michele Morano

7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Reading and book signing with Phillip Lopate

Saturday, Nov. 5 (all events to be held in Mellon Board Room)

Noon – 2 p.m. Lunch with Barbara Hurd and Lori Jakiela—reading followed by book signing (box lunches available to be purchased in advance for $10)

2:15 – 3:45 p.m. Discussion on the memoir with Faith Adiele, Phillip Lopate, Dinty Moore, and Lori Jakiela

4 – 5:15 p.m. Discussion on nature writing with Barbara Hurd, Nancy Gift, Sheryl St. Germain, and Lorena Williams

5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Chatham MFA in Creative Writing alumni Jane Fishman, Amanda Leskovac, Robert Isenberg, and Margaret Lehr Whitford, read from the newly released Autumn House anthology Between Song and Story: Essays for the 21st Century

About Guest Authors
Faith Adiele is the author of Meeting Faith, a travel memoir about becoming Thailand’s first black Buddhist nun, which received the PEN Beyond Margins Award for Best Memoir of 2004. A Publishers Weekly starred review credited it with “a comic’s timing, a novelist’s keen observations about human idiosyncrasies and an anthropologist’s sensitivity to race and culture.” She is also lead editor of the international collection, Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology (The New Press, 2008), and writer/narrator/subject of the PBS documentary My Journey Home. She is currently serving as the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College in Oakland, Calif.

John Balaban is the author of twelve books of poetry and prose, including four volumes that together won The Academy of American Poets’ Lamont Prize, a National Poetry Series Selection, and two nominations for the National Book Award. His Locusts at the Edge of Summer: New and Selected Poems won the 1998 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. He has been a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and, in 2008, he was awarded a medal from the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture for his literary translations and for his leadership in digitizing and preserving the ancient text collection at the National Library of Vietnam. Balaban is professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he serves as director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.

Barbara Hurd is the author of Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts and What RemainsEntering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark (a Library Journal Best Natural History Book of the Year); The Singer’s Temple,Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination (a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001); and Objects in This Mirror. She has received an National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction, the Sierra Club’s National Nature Writing Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. She teaches in the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing low-residency program.

Lori Jakiela is the author of a memoir, Miss New York Has Everything(Warner/Hatchette, 2006), and three poetry chapbooks including, most recently, The Mill Hunk’s Daughter Meets the Queen of Sky (Finishing Line, 2011). Her work has been published in The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Chicago TribuneThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteCreative Nonfiction,River Teeth5 AM, and Pittsburgh Quarterly. A full-length poetry collection,Spot the Terrorist!, and her second memoir, The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious, are forthcoming in 2012. She teaches in the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program at Chatham; she also serves as director of the undergraduate writing program the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.

Phillip Lopate has written three personal essay collections—Bachelorhood,Against Joie de Vivre, and Portrait of My Body; two novels—Confessions of Summer and The Rug Merchant; two poetry collections—The Eyes Don’t Always Want to Stay Open and The Daily Round; a memoir of his teaching experiences—Being With Children; a collection of movie criticism—Totally Tenderly Tragically; an urbanist meditation—Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan; and a biographical monograph—Rudy Burckhardt: Photographer and Filmmaker. In addition, he is the editor of the acclaimed anthology The Art of the Personal Essay. He has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and two NEA grants.

Dinty W. Moore’s memoir Between Panic & Desire was winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize in 2009. His other books include The Accidental BuddhistToothpick MenThe Emperor’s Virtual Clothes, and the writing guideThe Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction. Moore has published essays and stories in The Southern ReviewThe Georgia Review,Harper’s MagazineThe New York Times Sunday MagazineGettysburg Review,Utne Reader, and Crazyhorse literary journal, among many others. A professor of nonfiction writing at Ohio University, Moore edits Brevity, the journal of concise literary nonfiction.

Michele Morano is the author of the essay collection Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain, and her essays have appeared in such anthologies and literary journals as Best American EssaysFourth Genre,Georgia Review, and Missouri Review. Her work has been honored by the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, the American Association of University Women, and the MacDowell Colony, among others. She is associate professor of English at DePaul University, where she directs the graduate program in writing and publishing.

About the MFA in Creative Writing
Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing allows students to focus on tracks in creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and writing for children, and encourages them to explore two tracks simultaneously. Students take innovative field seminars that include travel to such places as Costa Rica, Ecuador, India and Germany. In 2007 Poets & Writers named the MFA one of “Nine Distinctive Programs” and The Atlantic Monthly named it one of five Innovative/Unique Programs in the country in its “Best of the Best” graduate program listings, while in 2009 The Writer named it one of ten programs that offer a specialty focus. Chatham University also offers an undergraduate BFA in Creative Writing, an online Master of Professional Writing, and a low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. For more information visit

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