The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College 

Public Schedule – July 2017 

The public is welcome to attend the morning lectures and evening readings in fiction

and poetry offered during the Master of Fine Arts Program summer residency.

Events last approximately one hour. Admission is free. The schedule is subject to change.

For more information, call the MFA Office: (828) 771-3715 

Readings will begin at 8:15 PM in Gladfelter, Canon Lounge, unless indicated otherwise.


Wednesday, July 5—8:00 PM 

Ana Menéndez, Maurice Manning, Hanna Pylväinen, Robin Romm, C. Dale Young

Thursday, July 6 

Stephen Dobyns, Daisy Fried, Matthew Olzmann, Dominic Smith, Sarah Stone

Friday, July 7 

Brooks Haxton, Debra Spark, Peter Turchi, and a tribute to Thomas Lux

Saturday, July 8 

Karen Brennan, Christopher Castellani, Jeremy Gavron, Rodney Jones, Sally Keith

Sunday, July 9 

Debra Allbery, Andrea Barrett, Alan Shapiro, Robert Boswell

Monday, July 10—no readings 

Tuesday, July 11 

Liam Callanan, Heather McHugh, David Haynes, Paul Otremba, Laura van den Berg


Wednesday, July 12 

Mark Elber, Esme Franklin, Amanda Newell, Laura Otis, Andrew Peterson, Blake Reemtsma

Thursday, July 13—in Ransom Fellowship Hall, behind the chapel 

Sarah Gauch, Leigh Lucas, Tiana Nobile, Susan Jo Russell, David Saltzman, Nomi Stone

Friday, July 14—4:30 PM, Fellowship Hall, followed by Graduation Ceremony 

Amy Lin, Micah Matthews, Trish Marshall, Maya Phillips, Peter Schireson


Faculty Lectures

All lectures will be in Gladfelter, Canon Lounge, unless indicated otherwise.

For more information, call the MFA Office at Warren Wilson College: (828) 771-3715. 

The schedule is subject to change. Please check for updates.

Friday, July 7 ROBERT BOSWELL: Dreaming in the Future Tense: 

9:30 AM A Memoir of Teaching Immigrant Stories While Reading The Lord of the Rings 

The appalling xenophobia of the Trump campaign led me to teach a class on immigrant stories; meanwhile, my daughter asked if I could help her, come summer, revise the first thousand pages of a fantasy trilogy. Trump wound up winning the election, and I had to confess that I’d never read a fantasy novel and needed to do some prep work. A strange four months followed, and I think maybe I can forge it into a talk. No reading is required for this lecture since I’m not yet sure what it’s about, but I’ll refer to some or all of the following books, stories, and television shows: Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo; My Antonia, Willa Cather; Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Stephen Crane; The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz; Arranged Marriage, Chitra Divakaruni; Who’s Irish, Gish Jen; Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Laila Lalami; The Assistant, Bernard Malamud; The Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka, “Jasmine” (the short story, not the novel), Bharati Mukherjee; “The Displaced Person,” Flannery O’Connor; “Displacement,” David Wong Louie; The Hobbit, Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien; and six seasons of Game of Thrones. 

Friday, July 7 MAURICE MANNING: The Burning Boy and the 

10:45 AM Goose Girl: On the Economies of Poetry and Nature 

This lecture will examine how poetic creation parallels the “creative economy” of Nature. Both economies are efficient and self-sustaining, and yet both anticipate and provide for subsequent creativity. The focus of this lecture will be to examine how one work of art leads to another—often many years later and in surprising contexts. This lecture will look at poems by Felicia Hemans, Bishop, Hopkins, Heaney, Hardy, and Ransom. Handouts will be provided.

Saturday, July 8 MATTHEW OLZMANN: Aspects of Satire 

9:30 AM 

In our current moment, political humor has surged in popularity. This lecture will focus on how the satirist uses irony, hyperbole, and parody to create a resonant social criticism. Additionally, we’ll consider the traditions of satire, examine a couple leading theories of humor, and think about how the satirical moment is used in work that goes beyond simply telling a joke. Handouts will be provided. Possible texts will include some combination of work by Horace and/ or Juvenal, Nin Andrews, Kevin Young, Patricia Lockwood, Key and Peele, and others. Page 3 of 4 

Saturday, July 8 DEBRA SPARK: Finish It, Finish It 

10:45 AM 

What forms can short story closings take? How do endings in life relate, if they do, to endings in fiction? In this lecture, I’ll tell a personal story and offer readings of the final paragraph of three short stories. All four tales “ended,” in some manner in 2016 (simply by concluding or by virtue of being published or anthologized in that year). Though you don’t need to do any reading to follow this lecture, the stories I will be discussing are Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum’s “The Burglar,” which you’ll find in the April 4, 2016 issue of The New Yorker, and Karen Russell’s “The Prospectors” and Daniel O’Malley’s “Bridge,” which you’ll find in the 2016 edition of Best American Short Stories. 

Sunday, July 9 ROBIN ROMM: “There is No Why Here” 

11:00 AM 

What is resistance when it comes to writing?

In an era such as the one we are living through—where we have witnessed a divisive election and now, the systemic erosion of human and civil rights–the temptation is to separate the virtuous from the craven, and live only amongst those who are moral and justice-seeking. But it is worth asking whether this kind of binary is actually fundamentally at odds with a humanitarian worldview. And, as artists, whether it is fundamentally at odds with art.

Imre Kertesz survived the death camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, only to return to a Hungary under communist/fascist rule. Surviving all of this, he argues, left him fateless—he had escaped due to an “accident in the machinery of death.” He was left, then, with a heavy burden—the ethical responsibility of being “lucky.”

The writing Kertesz gave us cannot be easily categorized—he resisted the term Holocaust, resisted what he felt was the cliché it had become. Instead, he attempts to leave us with something different—a sometimes ironic, always intelligent and wholly unexpected depiction of that era.

What can we, as writers living through an era of dangerous binaries, learn from his body of work and how can we apply it to the way we write and live?

Texts discussed will include Dossier K, Fateless, and Kaddish for an Unborn Child, all by Kertesz. Students are encouraged to read Fateless in advance of the residency.

Thursday, July 13 JEREMY GAVRON: The Off-Road Story 

9:30 AM 

We are all familiar with the road story, but what happens when a story turns off the road? This lecture will look at how nudging characters even a short distance out of their familiar landscapes, their mapped worlds, can open up new possibilities, new ways of seeing, not only for the characters, but for the writers, too. Probable texts: “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx, The Accidental by Ali Smith, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, and

“The Emerald Light in the Air” by Donald Antrim.

Thursday, July 13 HEATHER McHUGH: The Object of Art 

10:45 AM 

Is the object of art distinguishable from the subject of art? How literal is the literary? What “things” can be put “in words”? How does outcome bias ruin our regards and rhetorics? I hope to hold forth only transitively, via few perusings & ample examples. Page 4 of 4 

Friday, July 14 DAISY FRIED: Singing in the Dark Times 

9:30 AM Ransom Fellowship Hall 

In the dark times

Will there also be singing?

Yes, there will also be singing

About the dark times.

–Bertolt Brecht 

In ordinary times, writers feel they have a choice whether to be political and social. In times of public crisis, politics tends to invade us. What do we do with that as writers? This lecture is not about how to turn our work into propaganda, but about how we might make good, personal, intimate art in response to bad public times—art which says what we think without oversimplification and falsification. We’ll look at ways the visionary, the quotidian, and the political meet, perhaps in work by Wisława Szymborska, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Layli Long Soldier, Bertolt Brecht, James Richardson and Mohsin Hamid.

Friday, July 14 PETER TURCHI: The Strategic Release of 

10:45 AM, Ransom Fellowship Hall Information; or A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Information Dump 

Exposition, information, background, context—whatever we call it, we recognize it as the stuff that’s necessary and yet, potentially, inert. One question: Where to put it? Another: How do we keep the reader from skipping it? (Related question: Can’t we just do without it? Please?) Yet another: Is it possible—shouldn’t it be possible—to make necessary information something more than medicine the reader needs to swallow?

This lecture will grapple with those questions by looking at the openings of Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad and Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, Adam Johnson’s “Dark Meadow” and “Hurricanes Anonymous,” and more.

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