Thursday, June 5, 2014

Publishers Weekly Touts UNO Creative Writing Workshop in Inaugural Survey of Creating Writing Programs in the U.S. 

Publishers Weekly, America's largest trade magazine for publishers and writers, glowingly mentions the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop this month in its inaugural "Survey of Creative Writing Programs in the U.S."

"The Creative Writing Workshop continues to gain national recognition as an excellent M.F.A. program," said M.O. Walsh, director. "Since being named a top 25 Underrated MFA Program by the Huffington Post in 2011, the CWW has established itself as a great destination for creative writers of all genres."

For the last two years, the University's Master of Fine Arts program has received more applications than any other graduate program on campus, Walsh said. More than 90 percent of these students come from out of state. The success of the Creative Writing Workshop has been built with university support in the form of scholarship and assistantship opportunities for outstanding students, said Walsh. The program is growing at an unprecedented pace.

"Our graduates continue to win national awards and publish books with great literary presses," said Walsh, an award-winning writer whose debut literary nonfiction novel My Sunshine Away debuted last week at Book Expo America -- the nation's largest event for booksellers -- as a "Buzz Book" expected to be one of seven top sellers in 2015.

"We attribute this success to productive teaching faculty, scholarship and assistantship opportunities for our highly qualified students and pedagogically beneficial graduate class sizes," said Walsh. "New Orleans is a great place to write and this program is a sleeping giant that seems poised to wake up."


The Publishers Weekly survey of Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programs, released online with a series of articles on May 16, cites the UNO Creative Writing Workshop in three articles.

The UNO Creative Writing Workshop appears as a "Program to Watch" in a feature editorial by Julie Buntin entitled "Writing Can Be Taught."

"The University of New Orleans offers both a Low Residency and Residency program. Students who pursue a degree in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting or playwriting while living full time in New Orleans are given free tickets to an area literary festival where they can meet with editors and agents and take master classes," states the article. "These meetings must be working because their graduates have published books with Henry Holt, Doubleday, Vintage, FSG and Hyperion to name just a few of the publishers who have signed alums from this program."

A second article by Buntin, entitled "What's the Big Deal? M.F.A.'s Make Writers into Authors," states:

"The University of New Orleans also boasts an award-winning roster of M.F.A. alumni, including former Stegner Fellow Skip Horack, who won the Bakeless Literary Prize and has published titles with Counterpoint and Mariner Books."

The UNO Creative Writing Program is also mentioned in a third article, entitled "Agents and Editors Talk M.F.A. Programs," which describes the Creative Writing Program as a "hidden literary gem."

"There are also less obvious programs seen as hidden literary gems. Rob McQuilkin of Lippincott Massie McQuilkin (literary agency) says, 'I first became acquainted with the M.F.A. program at the University of New Orleans through my client Amanda Boyden, who attended their program along with her husband, Giller Prize-winner Joseph Boyden and eventually taught there,'" cites the article. "Our agency has gone on to work with several of their students, including young adult novelists Jen Violi and Lish McBride, a finalist for the Morris Prize in Young Adult Fiction."

The UNO Creative Writing Workshop includes both a traditional and a low-residency graduate program in fiction writing, nonfiction writing, poetry writing, playwriting and screenwriting. The curriculum demands 45 credits of graduate work that culminates in a creative thesis and results in an MFA degree for participants.

UNO's innovative Low Residency Program combines distance learning with study abroad. During the fall and spring semesters, students participate in online workshops and literature classes, corresponding, submitting work and receiving feedback from faculty online.

Every summer, writers attend a month-long summer residency in Europe. Recently, students in the UNO Creative Writing Workshop have been to Cork, Ireland; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Ezra Pound's Brunnenburg Castle in Italy.

Faculty include:

M.O. Walsh

M.O. Walsh won the Tartts Fiction Award before his literary fiction novel, My Sunshine Away, was sold to Amy Einhorn Books, an imprint with Putnam Publishers, a division of Random House, in a pre-empt world rights agreement. The book is a BEA "Buzz Book" expected to be one of the nation's top-selling books in 2015.

Walsh previously published a collection of short stories entitled The Prospect of Magic, which was a named an Editor's Pick for Best Books of 2010 by Oxford American and was a Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award for General Fiction.

His other essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times, American Short Fiction, American Book Review, Epoch, Oxford American, Story South and LitnImage, among others, and have been anthologized in Best New American Voices, Best of the Net, Louisiana in Words and Bar Stories.

Two of his stories have been named "Notable Stories of the Year" by The Million Writers Award (2007 and 2010) and his story "The Vicinity of the Sick" was named a Top Ten Story of 2010 by the international culture magazine

Frederick "Rick" Barton

Frederick "Rick" Barton, a winner of the Louisiana Division of the Arts Literature Prize, founder of the UNO Creative Writing Program and author of the novels The El Cholo Feeling Passes, Courting Pandemonium and With Extreme Prejudice, which have collectively earned praise from writers including Robert Olen Butler, Pat Conroy, Shirley Ann Grau, Richard Ford and periodicals ranging from the Saturday Review to The Los Angeles Times. His short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and in the anthologies Something in Common and Above Ground. His novel A House Divided is the 2000 winner of the William Faulkner Prize.

In addition to his achievements as a fiction writer, Barton has achieved success in other narrative media. His jazz opera Ash Wednesday with composer Jay Weigel was the keynote presentation of the Words and Music Festival in 1998. His short film, Early Warning, premiered in April of 2001. His film commentary appears weekly on WYES-TV. And his "Balcony Seats" film column in the newsweekly Gambit has won The Press Club of New Orleans' annual criticism prize 11 times.

Barton has also won the Alex Waller Memorial Award, the New Orleans Press Club's highest award for print journalism, and the Stephen T. Victory Award, the Louisiana Bar Journal's annual prize for feature writing.

Randy Bates

Nonfiction writer Randy Bates, whose book Rings: On the Life and Family of a Southern Fighter (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) was published to starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and lauded by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Los Angeles Times Book Review and other periodicals. His work has also been published in Grand Street, Ploughshares, The Southern Review; Prairie Schooner, The Pinch, The Boston Globe and others.

Bates has been awarded writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Arts Council, and he is the Nonfiction Editor of UNO's Bayou Magazine. Bates received the English Graduate Faculty Award at UNO in 2008 and was awarded recognition for distinction in teaching in the expository writing program at Harvard University.

John Gery

Poet and poetry critic John Gery, a University Research Professor of English who has won the UNO Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching and the English Department's Outstanding Service Award, as well as a Seraphia D. Leyda Teaching Fellowship for 2009-12.

Gery's poetry, criticism, and reviews have appeared in literary and academic journals throughout the country, as well as in Europe, including in the African American Review, Belgrade English Language and Literature Studies,Callaloo, Contemporary Literature, Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, Louisiana Literature, New Orleans Review, Notre Dame Review, Paideuma, Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, South Central Review, Southwest Review, Verse, and West Branch.

For his work, Gery has received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1991-92), an Artist Fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts (2002), two Deep South Writers Poetry Awards (1983, 1987), and a European Award of the Circle Franz Kafka in Prague (2000), among other awards. His collection of poems, The Enemies of Leisure, received a Critic's Choice Award from the San Francisco Review of Books and was named a Best Book of 1995 by Publishers' Weekly. His poems have also been translated into Serbian, Italian, Chinese, Romanian, and Bengali.

Richard Goodman

Nonfiction writer Richard Goodman, author of French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France, which The San Francisco Chronicle called "one of the most charming, perceptive and subtle books ever written about the French by an American."

Goodman is also the author of The Soul of Creative Writing, a meditative book on writing, A New York Memoir, and The Bicycle Diaries: One New Yorker's Journey Through 9-11. Goodman has also written articles and essays for Harvard Review, The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, Ascent, Commonweal, Michigan Quarterly Review, Vanity Fair, French Review, River Teeth and The Writer's Chronicle.

Erik Hansen

Screenwriter Erik Hansen, who has sold or optioned half a dozen screenplays to major Hollywood studios and producers, including the feature film "Heart & Souls," starring Robert Downey, Jr., released by Universal Studios. Hansen also co-wrote The Dog Ate It, which in 1991 won a Student Academy Award (Gold) for best narrative short film, and has written numerous columns on Buddhism, two of which were selected for the annual anthology The Best Buddhist Writing (2005, 2006) published by Shambhala Publications.

Henry Griffin

Artist-in-Residence Henry Griffin, a screenwriter and filmmaker from New Orleans who has worked for Fox, DreamWorks, New Regency, and New Line Cinema. He wrote, directed, produced and acted in the 1999 short film, Mutiny, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win awards at South-by-Southwest, the Seattle International Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, and the Message-to-Man Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Griffin's 2004 film Tortured by Joy was featured on a DVD in Believer Magazine. His music video for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, "Complicated Life," has received more than 60,000 hits on Youtube.

Two of his forthcoming films (the feature Flip Mavens and the short The Flavor of Plaid) are the result of student production exercises at UNO. Griffin has published essays in the anthology Movies: The Ultimate Insider's Guide, alongside Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet, Milos Forman and Martin Scorsese.

As an actor, he appeared in the 2000 film, The Way of the Gun. Henry Griffin currently appears as "Henry Griffin" in the HBO series, Treme.

Carolyn Hembree

Up-and-coming poet Carolyn Hembree, whose first poetry collection, Skinny, was published by Kore Press in 2012. Hembree has received three Pushcart Prize nominations for individual poems and received a $5000 Fellowship Award in Literature from the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Cream City Review, DIAGRAM, Indiana Review, Jubilat, New Orleans Review, Poetry Daily, Puerto del Sol, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, among others journals and anthologies.

Hembree has written critical essays for Arkansas Review and the Gale Group. Carolyn serves as poetry editor of Bayou, a biannual literary magazine is edited and curated by the faculty and students of the Creative Writing Workshop.

Barb Johnson

Fiction writer Barb Johnson, whose debut collection of short stories, More of This Worldor Maybe Another (HarperPerennial, 2009) was an IndieNext pick, a Discover Great New Writers selection, an Indiebound Notable Book, a Barnes & Noble Discover Award finalist and the winner of the American Library Association's Barbara Gittings Literature Award.

Johnson has won Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers and Washington Square's fiction competition. Her fiction has appeared in such magazines as Glimmer Train, Washington Square, The Greensboro Review, 52 Stories, Guernica and Oxford American. Her nonfiction can be found in a number of anthologies, most recently in Don't Quit Your Day Job: Acclaimed Authors and the Jobs They Quit.

Johnson is also the recipient of a two-year, $50,000 writing grant from A Room of Her Own Foundation, as well as grants from the Astraea Foundation and the Deming Fund.

Joanna Leake

Joanna Leake, author of A Few Days in Weasel Creek, a novel adapted as a screenplay that became a CBS Movie of the Week. Leake has written screenplays under contract for Rainbow Productions, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Brothers. Three of her manuscripts have been optioned for screen rights. Two textbooks, The Illustrated Guide to Writing and The Illustrated Guide to College Composition, co-authored with James Knudsen, have been published by Longman.

Leake's short fiction has appeared in the Intro anthology, Cultural Vistas, Xavier Review, The Panhandler, Louisville Review and Apalachee Review.

Leake has reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times and her articles have appeared in Architectural Digest and Vignette. For 10 years she reviewed films with Rick Barton on WWNO, the NPR-affiliate in New Orleans. Leake is the past president of the Gulf Coast Association of Creative Writing Teachers, former associate editor of Short Story and editor of the University's literary magazine, Bayou.

Justin Maxwell

Up-and-coming playwright Justin Maxwell, whose play "An Outopia for Pigeons" recently appeared at Shadow Box Theatre in New Orleans after being produced by Swandive Theatre in Minneapolis, in November, 2012.

Maxwell's plays have been produced in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, and cities across Canada. Most recently, two of his short plays ran at two New York City festivals, The Brick Theatre's Democracy Festival and the Some Kind of Nature festival.

Maxwell has also published his prose in a diverse list of journals, including: Minnesota Playlist, American Theatre Magazine, Minnesota History, Contemporary Theatre Review, Rain Taxi Review of Books and The Onion: America's Finest News Source.


Read More

University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop
Writing Can Be Taught: M.F.A. Survey 2014, Publishers Weekly
M.F.A. Survey 2014: What's the Big Deal?, Publishers Weekly
M.F.A. Survey 2014: Agents and Editors Talk M.F.A. Programs, Publishers Weekly