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Category Archives: Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Words Without Walls Book Launch at Chatham University on Friday, March 27th

PITTSBURGH: Chatham University will host a book launch on Friday March 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm in Chatham’s Mellon Board Room to celebrate the release of Words Without Walls: Writers on Addiction, Violence, and Incarceration published by Trinity University Press. Featured readers will be Jennifer Ashburn, Eric Boyd, Toi Derricotte, Heather McNaugher, Sarah Shotland, Sheryl St. Germain, and Christine Stroud. A book signing and reception will follow the reading. The reading is free and open to the public.

About the Anthology and Words Without Walls
Words without Walls is an anthology of more than seventy-five poems, essays, stories, and scripts by contemporary writers that provide models for successful writing, offering voices and styles that will inspire students in alternative spaces on their own creative exploration. Created by the founders of the award-winning Words Without Walls program, the anthology strives to challenge readers to reach beyond their own circumstances and begin to write from the heart. Each selection expresses immediacy—writing that captures the imagination and conveys intimacy on the page—revealing the power of words to cut to the quick and unfold the truth. Many of the pieces are brief, allowing for reading and discussion in the classroom, and provide a wide range of content and genre, touching on themes common to communities in need: addiction and alcoholism, family, love and sex, pain and hope, prison, recovery, and violence. More information at Trinity University Press.

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Allison Joseph to Read March 4 at Chatham University for Words Without Walls Reading Series

PITTSBURGH:   Allison Joseph will read on Wednesday March 4, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. in the Mellon Living Room, Chatham University.  A book signing and reception will follow the reading, which is free and open to the public.

Allison Joseph was born in London, England in 1967 to parents of Caribbean heritage. She grew up in Toronto, Canada and the Bronx, New York.  She is a graduate of Kenyon College and the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Indiana University.  She has taught since 1994 at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, where she helped to found Crab Orchard Review, a journal of literary works, and the Young Writers Workshop, a coed residential summer program for teen writers. She is also the moderator of the Creative Writers Opportunities List, a list-serve that provides publication and submission information to writers of poetry, fiction , and nonfiction. In 2012, she was awarded the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

Praise for My Father’s Kites: Poems by Allison Joseph:

“Superbly executed, part family history and part homage, Allison Joseph strings the frail human voices across the forceful lines of her verse to summon her absent father back from the dead.” — Maura Stanton

Funding for the Words Without Walls reading series provided by A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation and Chatham University.


Autumn House Book Launch Friday, March 6 at Chatham University

PITTSBURGH:  Please join Autumn House Press at Chatham University’s Mellon Board Room on Friday March 6, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. to celebrate the release of The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. The third edition of this anthology is a comprehensive selection featuring 106 important American poets. Hear the following poets read their pieces from the anthology: Jan Beatty, Joy Katz, Heather McNaugher, Ed Ochester, Sheryl St. Germain, Judith Vollmer, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, and Michael Wurster. A book signing and reception will follow the reading. The reading is free and open to the public.

About the readers:

Jan Beatty’s most recent collection of poems is The Switching/Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Her previous books include Red Sugar, Boneshaker and Mad River, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. She is director of creative writing at Carlow University, where she teaches the Madwomen in the Attic workshops and in the MFA program. Beatty also co-hosts and produces “Prosody,” a public radio show on which she interviews prominent writers. She is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and likes muscle cars.

Joy Katz‘s latest collection is All You Do Is Perceive, a Four Way Books Stalecher Selection and a National Poetry Series finalist. Her other books are Fabulae (winner of the Crab Orchard award) and The Garden Room (winner of Tupelo Press’s Snowbound Series prize). Her poems and essays appear in American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Fence, Boulevard, Cincinnati Review, the Poetry Foundation, and other print and web journals and are anthologized in three volumes of The Best American Poetry. Honors for her work include an NEA Fellowship, a Stegner fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and the Nadya Aisenberg fellowship at The MacDowell Colony. She is currently at work on Frayed, a book about racial identity and voice, for which she received a 2013 Pittsburgh Foundation individual artist grant. She teaches poetry at Chatham and Carlow universitites and serves at editor-at-large for Pleiades.

Heather McNaugher is the author of System of Hideouts and two poetry chapbooks, Panic & Joy and Double Life. She teaches poetry, nonfiction and literature at Chatham University, where she is poetry editor of The Fourth River. Her nonfiction has appeared in a recent issue of Fourth Genre.

Ed Ochester is the editor of the Pitt Poetry Series and is a member of the core faculty of the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars. He has published seven books of poems, as well as eight limited editions, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the George Garrett Award from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and the “artist of the year” award from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Recent poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Agni, Boulevard, Nerve Cowboy, Great River Review, Gettysburg Review and other magazines. Poems of his were selected for Best American Poems 2007 and 2013.

Sheryl St. Germain’s work has received several awards, including two NEA Fellowships, an NEH Fellowship, the Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, the Ki Davis Award from the Aspen Writers Foundation, and the William Faulkner Award for the personal essay. Her poetry books include Making Bread at Midnight, How Heavy the Breath of God, The Journals of Scheherazade, and Let it Be a Dark Roux: New and Selected Poems. She has written two memoirs, Swamp Songs: the Making of an Unruly Woman, and Navigating Disaster: Sixteen Essays of Love and a Poem of Despair. She co-edited, with Margaret Whitford, Between Song and Story: Essays for the Twenty-First Century, and with Sarah Shotland Words Without Walls: Writers on Violence, Addiction and Incarceration.

Judith Vollmer is the author of five books of poetry, including, most recently, The Water Books (Autumn House Press 2012). Her other collections, Reactor, The Door Open to the Fire, Black Butterfly, and Level Green, have been awarded the Brittingham, the Cleveland State, and the Center for Book Arts (limited edition) publication prizes. She also is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and finalist honors for the Paterson Poetry Prize. Vollmer lives in Pittsburgh and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and the Drew University MFA Program in Poetry & Poetry in Translation.

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is a survivor of the Liberian Civil War that ravaged the country from 1989-2003. Besides her most recent book, Where the Road Turns, she is the author of three previous books of poetry, The River is Rising (published by Autumn House Press), Becoming Ebony and Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa. Currently at work on her memoir of the Liberian Civil War, Patricia teaches English, Creative Writing, and African Literature at Penn State University, Altoona. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

Michael Wurster was born Moline, Illinois and currently resides in Pittsburgh with Hawthorne, his Siamese cat. He is a founding member of Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange and taught at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts for 17 years. His poetry collections are The Cruelty of the Desert, The Snake Charmer’s Daughter, and The British Detective.


Judith Tannenbaum to Read at Chatham University for Words Without Walls Reading Series

PITTSBURGH:  Judith Tannenbaum will read on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 8:00 pm in the Welker Room on the campus of Chatham University.  The reading is part of the Words Without Walls reading series. It is free, open to the public, and a book signing and reception will follow the reading.

Judith Tannenbaum has taught poetry in a wide variety of settings from primary school classrooms to maximum security prisons. She taught at San Quentin for four years in the 1980s and subsequently created Arts in Corrections’ newsletter Memo: Arts and their Manual for Artists Working in Prison. This work led to two of her books — Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin and a two person memoir, written with San Quentin student Spoon Jackson, By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives.
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A Free Artist Workshop Based on the Poetry of Sheryl St. Germain Scheduled for Jan 16, 2015

PITTSBURGH : A workshop presentation of “Kiss Me or Cut Off My Head” will take place on Friday, January 16, 2015 at 8:00 PM at Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery, located at 5015 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh.

“Kiss Me or Cut Off My Head” is a collaboration between theatre artists Brooke M. Haney and Chris Carcione and the non-profit organization Shining Hope for Communities. The piece aims to raise money and build awareness for Margaret’s Safe Place, a project of Shining Hope.

Adapted by Haney from the poetry of Sheryl St. Germain, the Program Director for Chatham University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program, and true stories of rape survivors, “Kiss Me or Cut Off My Head” confronts rape culture in America and Kenya through the lens of the Medusa myth. A central theme in the play is Medusa’s desire to address what others are saying of her and tell her own story, challenging assumptions often made about sexual assault.

The workshop presentation is free and open to the public.
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Chatham’s Creative Writing Program Receives Grant for the Make Mine Words Series

PITTSBURGH – The A.W. Mellon Charitable and Educational Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation has awarded a grant to support the Make Mine Words reading series, part of the Words Without Walls program, a creative educational partnership between graduate students from the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chatham University and Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh.

The grant will aid Make Mine Words in bringing twelve nationally recognized authors to Pittsburgh over the course of two years. The writers will give public readings and book signings to the Pittsburgh community at Chatham University, the Allegheny County Jail, and the Sojourner House (a rehabilitation facility for recovering mothers). Each member involved in the series will receive an anthology featuring all the participating authors. Sheryl St. Germain, director of Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program and co-founder of the Words Without Walls program, will lead the Make Mine Words series.
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Chatham Faculty, Heather McNaugher and Sheila Squillante, To Hold Reading and Book Signing

PITTSBURGH:  Authors and Chatham Faculty, Heather McNaugher and Sheila Squillante will read from their works on Wednesday October 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm in the Mellon Board Room. The reading is free and open to the public and a book signing and reception will follow the reading.
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Chatham University to Host One-Day Writer’s Conference Featuring New York Times Bestselling Author, Roxane Gay

PITTSBURGH – Chatham University will host Conversations & Connections: Practical Advice on Writing, on Saturday, October 18th, 2014, featuring keynote speaker Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist. The event will be held on Chatham’s Shadyside campus and will feature a full day program including keynote, three craft panels, a one-on-one meeting with an editor, your choice of featured book, and a subscription to a literary journal.

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