Monday, September 03, 2007

In Praise of the Colleagues

So, here I am. Fresno, CA. 109 degrees today - the first day of autumn. Hmmm. I'm not without my issues... BUT I came here to join what I think is a vibrant, growing, vital community of faculty and student writers. Fresno has its great literary tradition: William Saroyan, Philip Levine, Lillian Faderman and Liza Wieland all being part of it. The current faculty of the MFA program is also quite rich. I like these folks. I like their writing. I like hanging out with them. I like it that several of them have pools. I wanted to take a posty moment to say so, and to tell you a little bit about them.

CORRINNE CLEGG HALES is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Separate Escapes, winner of the Richard Snyder Poetry Prize (Ashland Poetry Press, 2002). Her previous books are Out of This Place (March Street Press, 2001), January Fire (Devil's Millhopper Press), and Underground (Ahsahta Press). Her poems have appeared in Hudson Review, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, and many other journals. She has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and won first place in the River Styx Poetry Prize competition for 2000.

Praise for Corrinne Clegg Hales:
"A deft, musical poet, Hales has the voice of Biblical character, passion, restraint, courage, fear, charm, endurance, the very metaphor of desire, here the numinous shadow of what is lost and hungered for and evident in each thing so small and fading against that largeness." - Dave Smith

TIM SKEEN earned a Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska in 1993. His collection Kentucky Swami, winner of the John Ciardi Prize, was published in 2001 by BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Skeen's poems have appeared in such journals as New Letters, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review and the Antioch Review. He's a winner of a grant from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology at the tenth Annual Conference on College Teaching and Learning.

Praise for Tim Skeen:
"The excellent poems in this collection set us down in a place where scars are... In the tradition of James Wright, they speak of defeat, in a flat voice. They also tell the sometimes astounding stories of our grace and humor and dignity, and how we might be redeemed through an astringent love." - Michael Burns

STEVE YARBROUGH, the James and Coke Hallowell Professor of Creative Writing, is the author of seven books. The End of California, his recently completed novel, was published by Knopf in June 2006. His novel Prisoners of War (Knopf, 2004) was a finalist for the 2005 Pen-Faulkner Award, and his 1999 novel The Oxygen Man (McMurray & Beck) won the California Book Award, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction and the Mississippi Authors Award. His other books are the novel Visible Spirits (Knopf, 2001) and the story collections Veneer (University of Missouri Press, 1998), (Missouri, 1994) and Mississippi HistoryFamily Men (LSU Press, 1990). He has won an NEA fellowship, and his work has been translated into Japanese, Dutch, and Polish and has appeared in such anthologies as Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Praise for Steve Yarbrough:
"The End of California' is artfully crafted, sensitive and observant, with characters who stick with you. But what makes it really shine is the undercurrent of thoughtfulness about who we are and what we're becoming." - Charles Matthews, The San Jose Mercury News

ALEX ESPINOZA was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and raised in suburban Los Angeles. He worked as a used appliance salesman, a cashier and egg candler on a chicken ranch, and a retail manager while pursuing his BA in Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. He went on to earn his MFA in Writing from the University of California, Irvine, and served as editor of their literary journal, Faultline. His first novel, Still Water Saints, (Random House, 2007) which has been released simultaneously in Spanish, has been named a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection for spring, 2007. Alex is currently at work on his next novel.

Praise for Alex Espinoza:
"Espinoza vividly brings a small Southern California town to vibrant life in his magical debut centering on Perla, the proprietor of the town's botanica, and the customers who come to her for help... Espinoza sends an intriguing melange of townsfolk to her door... Espinoza is a refreshing new writer." - Deborah Donovan, Booklist

JOHN HALES has published essays in numerous journals and anthologies, including Georgia Review, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, Southern Review, Hudson Review, Ascent, and On Nature: Great Writers on the Great Outdoors. His work has been cited numerous times in Best American Essays and in Best American Science and Nature Writing, and has twice been a finalist for the Missouri Review Editors Prize and was recently awarded a Pushcart Prize. His book Shooting Polaris: A Personal Survey in the American West was published in 2005 by the University of Missouri Press.

Praise for John Hales:
"This is creative nonfiction at its best, this artful union of fact and experience and memory. . . . Line by line, the writing is wonderful, and individual sections are as fine as any from writers such as Edward Abbey or Annie Dillard.” - Lee Martin

STEVEN CHURCH was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. He earned his BA in philosophy at the University of Kansas and his MFA in Creative Writing from Colorado State University. He has worked as a fry cook, a tour guide, a Bobcat operator, a maintenance man, a housepainter, a barista, a conflict mediator, an academic adviser, a teacher, and in Fall 2006 he will join the faculty of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at CSU, Fresno. His essays and stories have been published or are forthcoming in the Colorado Review, The North American Review, Interim, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Post Road, Quarterly West, and others. His work has been thrice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His first book, The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record, was released in 2005 by Simon & Schuster.

Praise for Steven Church:
"Church examines many powerful memories—of his father speeding through a cornfield to gather ears of corn in the bed of a pickup truck, or of the author himself blowing off an important interview to watch a basketball game with a professor's 10-year-old son—that mark him as a rigorously observant and emotionally perceptive writer likely to stay on readers' radar." - Publisher's Weekly

We've got some very interesting things planned for the program. And - lest these bios all seem to "literary" for your tastes - remember that they also hired me, a fantasy novelist! (Wicked laugh... Fade to black...)

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