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Tuesday New Release Day

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New this week: Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret AtwoodThe Paying Guests by Sarah WatersMy Life as a Foreign Country by Brian TurnerWallflowers by Eliza RobertsonOn Bittersweet Place by Ronna Wineberg; Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce; and Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book PreviewSupport The Millions: Bookmark this link and start there when you shop at Amazon.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL: SUMMER UDPATES!

Welcome back to school, Creative Writers, for another lovely semester at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas! Here are some updates on the summer travels, writing, publications, and jobs of MFA/PhD Creative Writing students and faculty at UNLV.

MFA/BLACK MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE PHD FELLOWS

Michael Berger: Michael Berger, 2nd year poet MFA, will be presenting a paper this October on Victorian adventure literature and contemporary cities, for the annual Utopian Studies Conference in Montreal, Quebec.

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Marianne Chan: 
The best part of my summer was driving to Wyoming with Clancy McGilligan to attend a friend’s beautiful wedding and stop at Yellowstone National Park to visit the geysers and buffalo.

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Shaun Christensen:
I spent my summer writing and reading and soaking in the pool. Got through Inferno and Purgatorio by Dante while lounging on one of those pool floaties or bagging some rays on a tanning chair.  Also was published in a hand made art book, series of one hundred, based out of LA which was made by the brilliant Mirabelle Jones and contains thirty other artists pieces.  It’s titled Res Extensa and you’ll have to climb Mt. Charleston and follow some clues to locate a copy ;)

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Olivia Clare: 
Olivia Clare’s book of poems, The 26-Hour Day, was accepted for publication by New Issues. She had a short story—“Creatinine,” which she edited in Louisiana with her mother’s sweet cat by her side—in the summer issue of Southern Review. She also had a short story appear in Granta. In July, she returned to Vegas for a summer session French class. She thinks she would like a cat of her own someday, but that’s a different story.

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Jamison Crabtree: 
Jamison has been on a publication spree this summer! Poems from his Wolf!!! series appear in Whiskey Island MagazineThe Destroyer, Smoking Glue Gun, Printer’s Devil Review, and Hobart Pulp. His manuscript “rel[am]ent” was awarded the Word Works’ Washington Prize and will be published spring of 2015. Other poems by Jamison can be found in apt, The Ampersand Review, Juked, and The Offending Adam.  


Daniel Hernandez: 
Great summer! I spent three weeks in Buenos Aires where I participated in the Argentine Conference of Comparative Literature. After that I spent a month bouncing around Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru — where I met up with Brittany Bronson :)

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Shaun Leonard: 
This summer I went to San Diego Comic Con and did a bunch of interviews for isitabicycle.com. We just got shortlisted for the Irish Blog Awards for Best Podcast and Best Arts and Culture Blog. I also went to Chicago and worked on the theatre adaptation of Claudia Keelan’s O Heart. Here’s a couple photos from SDCC. The last one is an artist’s interpretation of Las Vegas that I saw at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Joleen Long: 
Joleen spent two months living in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. She visited shrines and temples, met her great aunt for the first time, saw Emperor Akihito, ate a lot of food (including an Owakudani Black Egg), and worked on (and finished!) the second draft of her novel.

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Kayla Miller: 
I finished my international component in Spain (mostly in Alicante, though I also visited Barcelona and, briefly, Madrid) through the University of Memphis’ Talbot International Scholarship.  Alicante has a week-long Fiesta de San Juan for the summer solstice, which involves building foegueras throughout the town and burning them to the ground at the end of the fiesta.  I also traveled to D.C visiting my new niece, and visited the Grand Canyon for the first time.  Also I won 5Q's fiction e-chapbook competition with “See & Be Seen & Be Scene,” had that published, and then discussed it on KNPR.

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Matt O’Brien: 
A few years ago, a French publisher translated both of my books, actively promoted and sold them and didn’t pay me or my American publisher any of the advance or royalties promised in the contract. We looked into legal action, but the possibilities seemed limited. So I learned to live with the fact that someone had stolen my work and was selling it—and there was nothing I could do about it. However, finding myself in Spain and en route to Paris, while studying abroad through UNLV’s MFA creative writing program, I decided to email the publisher. To my surprise, he responded. He said that he wasn’t going to be in town while I was there, but a package would be at my hotel when I arrived. Entering my room and opening the cardboard box, I found 500 euros (about $670) and a translated copy of each book. 

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Derek Pollard: I scored AP English Literature exams for ETS again this past June in Louisville, KY.

On my drive back to Las Vegas, I stopped in Lawrence, KS, where I spent two days at the Spencer Memorial Research Library on the campus of Kansas University going through the entirety of the Ronald Johnson archives housed there as part of my ongoing research on Johnson (for my dissertation and other projects).

My paper “‘O! nothing earthly save the ray’: Dis-Unity of Effect in Edgar Allan Poe’s Poetry” was accepted for presentation at the Fourth International Edgar Allan Poe Conference being held in Manhattan in late February 2015.

Poem publications: “The Green Door” was published in Issue 11 of Weave Magazine, ”The Rain Alone” was published in Volume 3 Issue 1 of Burntdistrict, and “Joshua’s Bright Lily” was published in the Josephine Quarterly. 
Claudia and I also launched the latest issue of Interim, which features a long poem by recent BMI Emerging Writer Derek Henderson, among many others.
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Becky Robison: This summer I had an internship at Les Figues Press in Los Angeles. I got to proofread manuscripts, spearhead social media campaigns, and write copy; they even let me attend their first Figues Camp for writers in Big Bear. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of me working at Les Figues. I do, however, have a picture of my friend Mackenzie and me with Jeff Goldblum—make of that what you will. 

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Brett Salsbury: I stayed in Vegas for most of the summer and worked at the Marjorie Barrick Museum, with a jaunt to Kansas mixed in along with a five-day camping trip around NV and AZ. A couple of friends and I camped out at Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, and Lake Powell, and did a lot of hiking. Other than that, I read and wrote like a literary fiend.

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Rene Solivan: This summer I visited family in New York City and upstate NY, had three stories accepted for publication in The St. Ann’s Review, River Poets Journal and Black Denimand took my 5 year-old niece to see the musical Cinderella on Broadway.  I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it more than she did.

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FACULTY

Maile Chapman: I’m a longtime watcher of true crime investigation shows, so I was happy to interview veteran Las Vegas Metro crime scene investigator Yolanda McClary about how she uses forensics to put together crime narratives for her new series, Cold Justice (http://vegasseven.com/2014/07/01/yolanda-mcclary-cold-comfort/). Anthony Zuiker, creator of the CSI television shows, modeled the main character after her, and I also got to interview him, which will appear in SEVEN Magazine later this month. I also invented an alternate life of Joan Rivers for Trop Magazine, in a real review of a fake movie (http://tropmag.com/2014/the-funny-bitch-at-the-bingo-table-a-review-of-life-is-mean/). Plus, of course, trying hard to finish a novel…

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Claudia Keelan: 
Claudia Keelan's verse-drama “O, Heart” is on Small Press Distribution's recommended list.  Her translations of the women troubadours,  Truth of My Songs: Poems of the Trobairitz, is forthcoming in the Spring of 2015.

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Richard Wiley: How did I spend my summer?  Grousing over the problems of a difficult novel during the first part of it, then going fishing in order to forget it!  I still have the novel problems, but I don’t seem to worry about them as much as I did.  

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Doug Unger: 
This summer, Doug and his wife, Carola, took a quick trip to Paris and a slow drive to Provence and the Cote d’Azur. Doug became obsessed with the idea of buying an old boat in Villeneuve Loubet and establishing a UNLV MFA International “deckhand summer fellowship” before facing reality, returning home, and beginning work on a new (very short) novel, and refining some essays. One of these, “On Mentors: A Manner of Being” has just been accepted as a chapter for a collection to be published in 2015 by The University of Massachusetts Press, edited by Jeff Parker. The book currently cribs its title from Doug’s piece: A Manner Of Being: Writers On Their Mentors. Doug considers his boat fantasy and this essay as somehow related. After all, doesn’t every good writer at some point need to learn navigation?  

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Barcelona Journal #1 

in the charcoal drawing the musclebound hero enacts his instrument

the purposeful silence of an unplayed guitar
as even now
he continues

dodging a glance under his cap
he ignores the one who has come to see him

it is sweet
sunset
and the city, a corral of dormant codes
a flush on the instrument
her roseate cheeks
signing out the gloom

Poem by Austin Ely

APRIL IS NOT THE CRUELEST MONTH

Despite the fluctuating Mojave weather and grueling desert allergies, this April (Asian-American-Pacific-Islander-Poetry-Awareness-Lenten-Jazz-Appreciation-Month!) has been a literary joyride for the UNLV Creative Writing program and Black Mountain Institute.

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To kick off our April cavalcade of literary events, BMI Emerging Poet Lynn Xu visited on April 8 and gave a craft talk on the aquatic nature of lyric poetry at the UNLV Student Union. At Greenspun Hall Auditorium the same evening, she read from her poetry collection, Debts & Lessons, a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize — an elegant collection of bilingual poetry, lullabies, and intimate poems that engage with short lines and wild, vivid images. 

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Following Xu, one of America’s most innovative post-modern writers, Robert Coover, set foot in Las Vegas and began his week of UNLV events! First, he facilitated Prof. Unger’s fiction workshop, and the following day, at the Student Union, he presented the history of hypertext and a project entitled Cave Writing

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For his last event, on April 17, Coover read at Greenspun Hall Auditorium, first a short story entitled “Going for a Beer" published in The New Yorker, then several compelling excerpts from his new novel The Brunist Day of Wrath, Coover’s sequel to The Origin of Brunists.

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If the visits of two excellent writers — an established fiction writer, an emerging poet — were not enough, following Coover’s visit, Claudia Keelan, our very own celebrated poet and Creative Writing professor, presented her verse drama O, Heart at Greenspun Hall auditorium on April 24th: 

"In the 19th century, 
People believed that emotions 
came from the heart
But now we know
That they come from the brain—
Emotions, and that helps us to—”

An energetic cast of MFA and PhD creative writers and faculty members — in full costume and make-up — gave a dramatic reading of poems which appear in her latest collection published by Barrow Street Press. 

Keelan is the author of six full-length poetry collections, which include Missing Her, The Devotion Field, Utopic, and Refinery. Her new collection O, Heart is defined by the American critic and poet James Longenbach as “a tale at once historical, scientific, musical, [and] literary — … a wrenched lyric cry, the cry of a particular woman in a particular place …” 

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…And after all the theses and dissertations had been carefully defended, and all the Greenspun Innis & Gunn beer and wine bottles had been fully consumed and responsibly recycled, and everyone’s allergies had been properly Flonazed and Claritin D’ed (you have to get the ‘D’), we were fully prepared for the last NeonLit of the school year! Eight wonderful UNLV Creative Writers Jessica Durham, Jim Earp, Sam Samson, Jean Ho, Amy Mayo, Dana Killmeyer, Brittany Bronson, and Colby Gillette read their work for a large, happy audience of their peers and faculty members, and Becky Robison, first-year fiction writer, was our witty emcee. 

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All in all, the reading was a wonderful celebration of the work of this year’s graduating writers. 

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Las Vegas does not pride itself on being a “literary” city. It is a city of Instant Soup Fun (salty; microwaveable; add water and Britney Spears and an acrobatic Smokey Robinson will appear from the rafters, tossing glitter and reclamation fountain water into your eyes!). However, this month of literary events is a testament to the power of the UNLV Creative Writing program, as well as the dedication of the Black Mountain Institute, to believe in literature and to make it a priority.

Written by Marianne Chan

Announcing the 2014-15 Incoming Class

We’re so excited to announce the twelve new writers who will be joining the UNLV graduate creative writing program this fall. A warm welcome to the following poets and fiction writers:

PHD/BLACK MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE FELLOWS

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Leia Penina Wilson is from equal parts Kansas City & St. Joseph, Missouri. She has an MFA from the University of Alabama, and she likes all her cups of coffee to be giant. She loves animals of all sorts (her dog Kiba and cat Kalsifer can testify to this). Her book, i built a boat with all the towels in your closet (and will let you drown), is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. She also likes to bake.

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Maegan Poland lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where she teaches composition. She holds degrees in fiction and film from the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern California, and has a story forthcoming in Pleiades.


MFA IN POETRY

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Christine Bettis is a poet from Detroit, Michigan. She graduated from Wayne State University with a BA in English Honors (2014), where she was a member of the Wayne Writers’ Forum and served as Poetry Editor for the 2014 issue of the Wayne Literary Review. Her work has appeared in Pork & Mead Magazine, Spread ‘Em, and the Wayne Literary Review. She has lived in Philadelphia, PA where she worked with Americorps, as well as Boulder, CO as a student of Naropa University. She likes poetry, parties, and the internet. She’s cooler on the internet than IRL.

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Kristian Einstman was born on Long Island, New York. A frequent traveler, he has visited many places, including Spain, Mexico, and Ireland and has lived for extended periods of time in both Germany and Peru. He is currently residing in Potsdam, NY where he is finishing a BFA in Creative Writing at SUNY Potsdam College. He writes to explore questions and consistently has to feign satisfaction with his work without having reached any answers. His work has been published in North Country Literary Magazine, and he leaves undergraduate study having received the Sylvia Angus Creative Writing Award, one of the SUNY Potsdam English Department’s highest accolades.

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Kathryne “Kaz” Gargano is a Yiddish grumbling, tea-drinking, vegan-living poet from Portland, OR.  She enjoys white wine and whiskey, loitering in coffee shops, and mulling through dusty thrift shops in search of treasures.  She received her B.A in Middle Eastern Studies from George Washington University, and enjoys writing poems about love and Jews.  The founder and managing editor of The Swanlike Review, an online literary magazine for queer youth, her poems have been published in journals such as Alchemy, Pointed Circle, Perceptions, and CALYX.  Warning: don’t get her started on her love of Doctor Who or Leonard Cohen.  She looks forward to joining the UNLV community in the fall, adopting a pair of rats, and naming them Amy and Melody Pond.

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Danielle Henry is a poet and (somewhat) recent graduate of Virginia Tech, currently residing in her hometown of Vienna, Virginia. Besides poetry, her interests include old movies, Thai food, scotch, and the Washington Capitals. Does anyone in Nevada watch hockey? Danielle hopes so.

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Ariana Turiansky comes from West Grove, Pennsylvania. She received her BA in English from Shippensburg University as well as an undergraduate research grant to study contemporary poetics and pedagogy. In June 2013 she received a fellowship from the Stadler Center for Poetry to attend the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets. She’s spent the last four summers immersed in the equestrian world. Her poems have recently appeared in likewise folio and are forthcoming elsewhere.

MFA IN FICTION

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Noha Al-Badry was born in Cairo, Egypt and received her B.A. in both Journalism and English Literature from the American University in Cairo. Her fiction attempts to integrate the clash between eastern and western cultures, to explore the thin line separating poetry and prose, and to make horrible things happen to her characters. She began writing when she was 13 and taught herself almost everything she knows about literature. She doesn’t know why she chose to write in English rather than Arabic, but feels that her use of language sometimes reflects the structure of Arabic lit. Her interests—shockingly—include short stories, novels and poetry. Other more mundane interests include indulging her oddball nature, cooking, autoimmune diseases, mythology, film and music.

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Matthew Kollmer is a fiction writer from a rural town just east of the Twin Cities. He grew up skiing, playing baseball and football, riding horses, trap shooting, and kayaking. He attended Winona State University, where he earned his BA in English, and where his writing became an integral part of his identity. Since his undergrad, he’s worked a variety of jobs. He has been a carpenter, chairlift operator, Zamboni driver, riverboat deckhand, and standardized test scorer. He enjoys new activities and expanding his life experience.

Jessica Sadler was born in “Charm City”, hon, home of John Waters, The Wire, great music, and Artscape. Jessica studied English lit as an undergraduate at UMBC, then returned for a Masters in TESOL, and in between she taught English to high school students in the U.S. and in Thailand. Jessica has traveled throughout Southeast Asia, loves Thailand, and hopes to return soon.

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New Yorker René Solivan moved to Los Angeles in the 1990’s to pursue acting and ended up writing plays that have been seen in L.A. and N.Y.C.  He received an Emerging Artist Commission from the Tony Award-winning Mark Taper Forum where he was also an LTI Playwriting Fellow.  He was a finalist for the 2008 Sky Cooper New American Prize.  His stories have appeared in The Northridge Review, Mosaic, Stumble Magazine and River Poets Journal,among others.  René is the winner of the 2009 Northridge Review Award for Outstanding Short Story and a 2005 MetLife National Playwriting Award.  Since 2009 René and his partner have been hiding out in Las Vegas dabbling in real estate.  They were about to move back to L.A. when Rene was accepted into the MFA program and he will forever be grateful to UNLV.  The L.A. smog and traffic would’ve killed him this time, he’s sure of it.

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Ernie Wang was raised overseas as a military brat, then studied engineering at Cornell. He worked in finance for fifteen years before deciding to focus on writing fiction, something that makes him feel at once exposed, baffled, and restored. He figures now is as good a time as ever, and so here goes.