Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rita Dove at the Folger, May 4

For an end-of-semester treat, go see former Poet Laureate Rita Dove read her poetry at the Folger Elizabethan Theater on Monday, May 4, at 7:30. Tickets are $12. A wine reception with a book sale and signing will follow the reading.

Last Yak of the Spring

The final Candid Yak of the season, to be held this Friday, May 1 at 7:00 pm at the Firehouse Grille on University Drive, Old Town Fairfax, features another great lineup:

Nicole Lee (fiction)
Maria Ivkovic (fiction)
Ethan Edwards (poetry)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fiction Dinner with Helon

The fiction dinner is just a weekend away! As of now we have a few spots left, so email Norah or Kirsten if you'd like to come.

When: Sunday May 3rd 5pm
Where: Norah's house, directions on listserv

Nicole Lee -- Malaysian curry
Elizabeth Eshelman
Angela Panayotopulos -- Greek dish
Steve Loiaconi -- dessert
Kara Oakleaf
Brie Spencer -- quiche
Tim Rowe
Sara Flood
Corey Beasley
Ben Brown -- dish from Louisiana
Paul Zaic -- cheese and wine
Jay Patel
Norah Vawter -- vegetable dish
Kirsten Clodfelter

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Crazy Good Semester

OK, I wasn’t really planning to put bad writing up every day, especially with all kinds of crazy publication and contest news going on—check it out, folks, what a run y’all had this semester! Keep it coming.

And I must add, of the 300 friends, families, and colleagues I contacted for the Avon walk, far and away the most help came from you all. Maybe writing begets generosity, or it is simply that you are terrific people (you all are). Anyway, thank you. I’ll continue to post a new sonnet every day until May 2, so check out the Avon site, if you’d like.

Hey, and the Folger Shakespeare Library is throwing its Shakespeare’s Birthday Open House party tomorrow (Sunday April 26) from noon to 4 pm. It’s a kid-friendly event; I’m so there—hope to see some of you . . .

Friday, April 24, 2009

Congrats to the Contest Winners!

Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, Poetry 
Winner: Emily Viggiano

Mark Craver Poetry Award 
Winner: Robb St. Lawrence 
Honorable Mention: Amy Garrett Brown

Virginia Downs Poetry Award 
Winner: Ellie Tipton

Joseph A. Lohman III Poetry Award 
Winner: Ethan Edwards
Honorable Mention: Amy Garrett Brown, Angie Mazakis

Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, Fiction 
Winner: Rebecca McGill 
Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Eshelman, Corey Beasley, 
and Priyanka Champaneri

Dan Rudy Fiction Award 
Winner: Nicole Lee 
Honorable Mention: Tim Rowe

Shelley A. Marshall Fiction Award 
Winner: Sara Flood 
Honorable Mention: Priyanka Champaneri

Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, Nonfiction 
Winner: Judy Adkins

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Big Congrats to Ally Armistead

Ally's fabulously daring and experimental story, Girl in Red, was just named a top ten finalist in Narrative magazine's 2009 Winter Contest. Publication details to follow, but for now you can check out the magazine here.

Congratulations, Ally! You're a rockstar!

Reading: Amy Bloom and Susan Choi

PEN/Faulkner is sponsoring a reading at the Folger Theater this Friday, April 24 at 8 pm with Amy Bloom and Susan Choi. Richard McCann introduces them. All for only $15.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Bard of Avon Turns 445

Happy Approximate Birthday, Shakespeare! Celebrate with a sonnet on my Avon Walk for Breast Cancer page, and read about the 1610 painting that just might be the Bard of Avon’s portrait. Or, stay here and read James Fenimore Cooper, the American author who laid the groundwork for us and . . . occasionally wrote like an 18th century British barrister.
At the sound of the tread of the noble horse ridden by the traveller, the mistress of the farm-house he was passing at the time might be seen cautiously opening the door of the building to examine the stranger; and perhaps, with an averted face, communicating the result of her observations to her husband, who, in the rear of the building, was prepared to seek, if necessary, his ordinary place of concealment in the adjacent woods. The valley was situated about mid-way in the length of the county, and was sufficiently near to both armies to make the restitution of stolen goods no uncommon occurrence in that vicinity. It is true, the same articles were not always regained; but a summary substitute was generally resorted to, in the absence of legal justice, which restored to the loser the amount of his loss, and frequently with no inconsiderable addition for the temporary use of his property. In short, the law was momentarily extinct in that particular district, and justice was administered subject to the bias of personal interests, and the passions of the strongest. —James Fenimore Cooper, The Spy (1821)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nonfiction Visiting Writer Reading: Mindy Lewis

Also on Thursday, Mindy Lewis, author of Life Inside: A Memoir, will be reading in Research I, Room 163, 7:30 pm. A reception will be held prior to the reading in 163’s lobby. Lewis’s essays have been published in Newsweek, Lilith, Body & Soul, and Poets & Writers. She is also editor of the anthology DIRT: Writers on the Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House (Seal Press, forthcoming, spring 2009), which features a whole lot of writers, including Kyoko Mori.


This Thursday, April 23, at 7–9 pm, the Tranquil Space Foundation will host the Lunafest film festival of short films by, for, and about women. It will be held at the Steptoe & Johnson LLP Dupont Circle offices, 1330 Connecticut Ave, NW.

Tickets are $20, available here, or you can buy your tickets onsite and receive a $5 discount. MFAers: print out the email with this same announcement and show it when you buy your tickets. All proceeds go to the Tranquil Space Foundation and the Breast Cancer Fund.

The first five people to email me to say you’re going, I will match your $15 or $20 ticket price by donating the same amount to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer as well. My GMU account is dheath.

The Good, the Bad, the Iambic

This year we celebrate William Shakespeare’s 445th birthday around April 26 (no one knows for sure) and the 400th anniversary of the publication of his sonnets.

Despite this, for the next 11 days, unless stopped, this space will present very bad writing by good writers. Sacrilege! The horror! No way, Madame Bovary! How to stop it? Go here, read a Shakespearean sonnet (updated daily), and donate to the May 2-3 DC Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. (Thanks very much to those who have already given.)

You can also help by emailing (there --> or my GMU account) more examples of the worst of the best. Any bad stuff by good authors will do. Now, without further ado, here is day one (from the November 1924 issue of Der Querschnitt).


You come to Spain but do not remain. Ann Veronica, Marcial Veronica, Pablo Veronica, Gitanillo Veronica. No they cannot veronica because the wind blows. The wind blows and it does not snows look at the bull with his bloody nose.
—Ernest Hemingway, 1924

Had enough already? Go here and donate.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Alan and the Vision Series

"A Glimpse Into the Writer's Workshop"
Monday April 20, 2009
7pm, Concert Hall

& Art Taylor, yo

Also congratulations to Art Taylor, whose story "Here for You" appears in the latest Fiction Weekly.

Alyson Foster, yo

Congratulations to Alyson Foster, whose story "The Place of Holy" was just accepted by the editors of The Kenyon Review.

Fiction Dinner with Helon!

Thanks to 2nd years Norah and Kirsten we've got one more fiction dinner before the semester's end! This one will be Helon's first.

When: Sunday May 3rd 5pm
Where: Norah's house, directions on listserv

We're limited to 20 people on this one, so send Norah an email to rsvp. We'll keep a waiting list...if you are past the 20th person, we'll add people off the waiting list in case someone cancels.

And as always this will be potluck, so figure out what you'll bring...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April Cheryl’s Gone

On Thursday April 16, Cheryl's Gone features terrific readers Ed Davis and Sheri Sorvillo, both current GMU MFAers, and Nancy Pearson, a GMU alum who recently published her first book, Two Minutes of Light. The free event is at the Big Bear Cafe.

Candid Yak Friday April 17

On Friday, April 17 at the Prose House at 7:00 pm, the Candid Yak features a great lineup:

Nat Foster (fiction)
Pat Martin (fiction)
Emily Viggiano (poetry)
Kirsten Clodfelter (fiction)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ice Cream and Books and Alan

The last post's mention of the Washington Post Magazine reminded me of an article I read a while back that is worthy of sharing here. The story is about Andrew Gifford, a D.C. publisher who's family founded and ran Gifford's Ice Cream and Candy, a franchise of old-fashioned ice cream parlors that once thrived in the D.C. area. Gifford's went from being the hottest spot on a Saturday night in the 1950s to bankrupt in 1985.

Despite suffering from a long-time painful chronic illness, in 2002 Gifford began a small literary press, the Santa Fe Writer's Project. Writer Ray Robertson is quoted in an interview, "Publishers like Andrew Gifford at SFWP are [expletive] heroes." The press published The Fires, written by GMU's own Alan Cheuse. Cheuse is mentioned and quoted in the article. (Also, interviewed here by SFWP, on his novellas.)

Check it out here:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Washington Post fiction contest

Hey! There’s less than a month left to enter the Washington Post Magazine’s short story contest. Write 1,500 words or less inspired by, based on, or tangentially connected to the photo here by May 4. As far as I can tell the prize is publication in the 2010 Valentine’s issue of the magazine, but you’d get to appear in the same issue as a bunch of established writers. Submission information is linked to this sentence, if you missed it.

Last year’s winner was Sam Esquith, a writer and teacher in Middleburg, Virginia, and the year before that it was Dean Hebert of the University of Maryland—one of us should win one!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Review GMU’s program

Hey everyone, go to this graduate school review site and write a review of the George Mason University MFA Creative Writing program.

Update—hey, cool, we have five stars! I’ll write a review, too, if someone else will . . .

Philip Levine Interview w/ Brian Brodeur

Hi Everyone,

Brian Brodeur has interviewed Philip Levine about the creation of a poem. I just discovered Brian's blog. Brian appears to have decided to interview as many poets as possible about the creation of their poems. Others interviewed include Eric Pankey, Sandra Beasley, Dorianne Laux, etc. Visit if you haven't already.

This post is short because I am very tired and must now go wash dishes.