MFA in Writing and Literature Series Kicks Off With an Evening of Literature and Laughs

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y., September 21, 2007—One of the country’s hot, new humorists will share his work in Duke Lecture Hall at Stony Brook Southampton on October 3, as self-deprecating memoirist Josh Gidding hosts a night of literature and laughs.

The event kicks off the return of Southampton’s MFA in Writing and Literature program and its “Writers Speak” series of literary events, which all take place on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at Stony Brook Southampton and are free and open to the public. For further information, call 631-632-5030.

“We’re excited to bring back this wonderful series and to kick off with what’s sure to be a memorable literary event,” said Prof. Julie Sheehan, the series organizer. “Josh is a funny new voice who just signed an international book contract, and will share his gifts of humor and wit with students and lovers of writing.”

Gidding has always been followed by a dark cloud, and writes about his inadequacies and bad luck in a hilarious style. He will read an excerpt from his new book, “Failure: An Autobiography,” which has just been published by Cyan Books in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Gidding grew up in Los Angeles, and holds degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Southern California. He has taught at USC and Holy Cross, and currently teaches writing and literature at Dowling College, where he lives with his son, Zachary. He has published fiction, criticism and reviews, and worked for many years (without success) in the movie business.

Other “Writers Speak” Events:
October 10 – Jill Bialosky
Poet, novelist and editor Jill Bialosky reads from her new novel, “The Life Room” (Harcourt). She is the author of the acclaimed novel “House Under Snow” and two collections of poetry, “The End of Desire” and “Subterranean.” Her poems and essays have appeared in the New Yorker and O, The Oprah Magazine. She is an editor at W.W. Norton & Company and lives in New York City. 

October 17 – Robin Magowan
Robin Magowan, poet, travel writer, memoirist, and nephew to poet James Merrill, reads an essay onLarry Rivers and the Hamptons scene. Magowan founded the transatlantic review Margin in 1986, which he edited until 1990. He has published seven books of poetry including “Lilac Cigarette in a Wish Cathedral,” which was chosen for the James Dickey Contemporary Poetry series. His books include a translation of Michaux’s “Ecuador”; “Narcissus and Orpheus”; travel writings such as “And Other Voyages” and “Fabled Cities: Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva”; two books on bicycle racing; and a memoir, “Memoirs of a Minotaur, from Merrill Lynch to Patty Hearst to Poetry.”

October 24 – Jean Gallagher and Joy Katz
Two emerging poets read from their collections.

Jean Gallagher’s second collection of poems, “Stubborn,” “majestically conducts a history of approaches to the sacred in Christian art, scripture, mysticism, theology,” writes Bruce Beasley, and, according to Mark Jarman, “shows us how it feels for the human and the holy to interact.”  Her first book is “This Minute.”  She lives in New York and teaches at Polytechnic University.

Joy Katz holds a B.S. in industrial design from Ohio State University and an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. A former Stegner Fellow, she has published in numerous journals including Ploughshares, Conduit, Barrow Street, Colorado Review, Court Green and Verse and is anthologized in “The Best American Poetry,” “The New Young American Poets” and “The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.” Her book reviews have appeared in Slope, The New York Times Book Review, Parnassus, and other publications. She is a senior editor at Pleiades and co-editor of the anthology “Dark Horses: Poets on Lost Poems.” “The Garden Room” won the 2005 Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Prize, and was also a runner-up for the 2005 Center for Book Arts chapbook prize. Her first book, “Fabulae,” was a finalist for the ForeWord Book of the Year and the Colorado Prize. She teaches poetry workshops at The New School and lives in Brooklyn with her husband Rob Handel, a playwright.

November 7 – Clark Blaise

Clark Blaise is the former head of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He is the author of 16 books, most recently “Southern Stories” and “Time Lord: Sir Sanford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time.”  His “Collected Essays” is forthcoming this fall.

November 14 – Simon Van Booy & Lucas Hunt

Graduates of Southampton’s MFA program make good. Novelist Simon Van Booy and poet Lucas Hunt read from their work.

Van Booy was born in London and grew up in rural Wales and Oxford. In 2002, he was awarded an MFA and won the H.R. Hays Poetry Award. His journalism has appeared in magazines and newspapers including The New York Times and The New York Post. He now lives in New York City where he teaches at the School of Visual Arts and Long Island University. He is also involved in the Bard College Access Program for at-risk young adults.

Lucas Hunt was born in rural Iowa and now makes his home on Long Island. A graduate of Southampton College, he has worked as a journalist and written several volumes of poetry and plays. He has been presented with a John Steinbeck Award for poetry. His most recent book of poems, “Lives,” was published by Vagabond Press in October 2006.

November 28 – Julie Raynor

Julie Raynor, whose novel has been through multiple drafts, discusses the delights and agonies of revision. She holds a BA with Honors from Hunter College, where she studied English and Philosophy, won nine prizes, was elected Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated summa cum laude. She also holds an MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts, where she received two fiction fellowships and was made a Jacob K. Javits Fellow. Her hybrid thesis included 20 poems and an excerpt of a novel that combined historical fiction about the poet Emily Dickinson with a family story. An erstwhile songwriter whose songs have been recorded by the jazz singer Carmen Lundy and saxophonist Ernie Watts, she recently completed her first novel, “Goodbye, Sister,” which she is currently revising to resubmit in the hopes of publication.  The novel is the story of 10-year-old Ivy Taylor living in Alabama in 1965 when her poet and civil rights activist father is hospitalized for manic depression and her mother divorces him on the spot.  Ivy goes with her father, estranged from her mother and siblings for three years, until her attempt to take her own life reunites them, and she learns why her mother gave her away.

December 5 – MFA Students and Alumni Reading

The tradition continues: Students and recent alumni of the MFA in Writing and Literature at Stony Brook Southampton take the stage to share their work.