Friends of Writers
Friends of Writers, a not-for profit 501(c)(3) organization, enriches American poetry and fiction by cultivating new and vital literary voices. We do this by raising funds to support students, alumni and faculty of our partner, the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. The MFA Program pioneered a model of low-residency study based on three core values: community, rigor, and diversity. Community provides support for the individual writer; rigor encourages that individual’s finest work; and diversity—in aesthetic, ethnicity, gender, age, occupational, geographic, and economic background—ensures that American writing reflects the entire nation.
Friends of Writers was established in 1991 as an independent non-profit organization. It was begun by faculty and alumni of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for the immediate purpose of raising scholarship funds. In addition to providing scholarships for WWC MFA students, it provides scholarships to the alumni conference, as well as paying other costs associated with the alumni conference. In recent years, anonymous donors have established additional funds for current students, alumni, and faculty.
Also in recent years, the MFA Program faculty have produced seven writing anthologies. The editors and all contributors to those volumes donated 100% of each book’s advance and royalties to Friends of Writers’ scholarship funds; when necessary, they have also paid for reprint permissions, so Friends incurred not a single penny of expense to produce the books.
The only costs for Friends of Writers are essential legal and accounting fees. There is no office, no paid staff. Board members donate their time, the cost of travel to semi-annual meetings, and lodging and meal expenses. All donations flow directly into the scholarships to support our literary community.
“FIshbowls, Werewolves, and Workshops on the Yard, or: How I Learned to Love Prison Teaching” by Corey Campbell
A new piece by alumna Corey Campbell (fiction, ’12) appears online in Waxwing Literary Magazine:
Fishbowls, Werewolves, and Workshops on the Yard, or: How I Learned to Love Prison Teaching
The first time I drove to my writing class at a prison deep in Arizona’s Sonoran desert it was Friday morning and I hit a wall of downpour on highway 60 heading east. My driver’s side windshield wiper didn’t work, and I could see nothing in front of me but the steam on the window — my breath — and walls of water outside. I’d drive under an overpass and for a pulse it would stop, but seconds later pick up again on the other side, relentless. I was scared, didn’t know if I should pull over, even if I could. Besides, if I had found safe haven at a gas station, which would have been smart, I would have been late for my first day of prison class. And who knew what these incarcerated men enrolled in my Introduction to Creative Writing would think of me then?
By the time I passed Gold Canyon, the floodwaters had receded. I had pushed through. But I was still shaken and late. When I told my fiction class later, those ten or so men sitting at round tables in the prison visitation room, they told me to be careful next time.
Continue reading online at Waxwing Literary Journal.
Really, they said, “You should fix your windshield wipers.”
And: “You hurried here for us?”
A new story by alumna Lara Markstein (fiction, ’13) appears in Four Way Review:
Ladies’ Night at the Gun Range
The women waited for Olivia. Perched on their lawn chairs beneath the dogwood, which blossomed in leathery white bursts, Nel thought they looked more like they were waiting for their youth. Leanne had slathered on so much foundation she resembled an overripe tangerine, and Connie stank of French perfume. Nel regretted wearing new capris. The white pants had looked effortless on the pretty, child-like model in the catalogue, but they hung limply from her own middle-aged waist. What would Kevin call them if he walked into the backyard now? A gaggle, she thought. A gaggle of women, hoping for some mid-afternoon miracle that would transform them from mere sacks of marriages and motherhood into pristine girls again.
Continue reading online.
A poem by faculty member Alan Shapiro is the featured “Poem-A-Day” for Monday, April 21, 2014, at Poets.org:
From where I watch, there are no highest leaves,
no leaves that don’t have over them more leaves
impeding what they open up and out for,
darkening downward as they feed on green
diminishments, as if dark, if it still
can darken, could be itself the light
the darker leaves beneath are hungry for.
From where I watch even the shade hungers
And is hungered after—all along the chain
past bark, root, leaf, ghost speck of leaf,
microbial scrapings, and beyond them, flakes
chipped off of flakes off of a now-
Finish reading online at Poets.org.
A piece by alumna Christine Fadden (fiction, ’09) appears online in Hobart:
Whether You Win or Lose
Uncle Max picked me up for tryouts. I must have been fidgety. I changed the radio station a half dozen times before turning it off.
“The Beach Boys shouldn’t call themselves boys,” I said. “They have mustaches.”
“And sideburns,” my uncle said.
I opened the glove box and looked through his cassettes. His Joni Mitchell tape was busted, so I stuck my pinky in the hole and tried to rewind the loose tape.
“Nervous?” my uncle asked.
I shook my head. “Mom loves this tape,” I said. “I like how Joni Mitchell calls her husband her old man. That’s funny, don’t you think? It’s really weird, isn’t it? I don’t like the way she sings the song though, all up and down like she’s being goosed. But I like the one about drinking a case with somebody. Yeah, Mom and I sing the case song together like we have furry throats.”
“A little nervous is good, you know,” my uncle said.
Continue reading online.
A new essay by alumna Peggy Shinner (fiction, ’94) appears online at Salon:
Don’t slouch, young lady
(excerpted and adapted from ”You Feel So Mortal/Essays on the Body”)
I was a Dr. Spock baby. My mother kept “The Pocket Book of Baby and Child Care” in the end table next to the couch in the living room, where I found it once when I was looking through drawers for evidence of family secrets, a favorite childhood pastime, and where it remained until two years after her death, when my father finally decided to sell the house and move to an apartment. Periodically I would take out the book and idly flip through the pages. What did it tell me about my mother, or my mother about her children? My mother, a binge eater, insecure cook, sharp dresser and the family ledger-keeper and handyperson, who often seemed daunted by the rigors of raising children. She died in her mid-50s, a woman about whom you might have predicted an early death, perhaps because she seemed afraid of life and gave off a persistent whiff of unhappiness. “Use the Index at the back when you are troubled,” Dr. Spock suggested, and I imagine her folded in the corner of the couch, legs under her housecoat, a Marlboro in the ashtray on the end table. It was late at night. My father was snoring ballistically from the bedroom. The house seemed to be ticking with worry.
Continue reading online.
A new story by faculty member Caitlin Horrocks appears online at Salon:
You’re the kids who robbed us: Our strange online encounter with our burglars
When the calls came, we didn’t receive them. We were 800 miles from home, at a friend’s place too deep in the Vermont woods for cell reception. It wasn’t until the drive back into civilization the following morning that the voice mails chirped into view on my phone. “What is it?” my husband Todd asked, watching my face as I listened to the messages from our neighbor.
“The house got robbed,” I said, although it was the wrong word. There’d been no force involved, just a sliced-through screen, the back window pried open or carelessly left unlocked. We’d been burglarized, burgled, a cheerful, gurgling word like a cartoon character had snuck in to eat Cheetos and watch cable. Our house too, the neighbors’ message said. They couldn’t tell us what was missing, what the inside of our house looked like.
Continue reading online at Salon.
The recipient of the 2012 Narrative Prize and the 2013 Mary McCarthy Prize, Nathan is currently a Milton Fellow in Seattle, teaching at Pacific Lutheran University. His debut story collection, Father, Brother, Keeper, will be published by Sarabande in 2015.
Undergraduate Creative Writing Director Catherine Reid says that Nathan established a ready rapport with WWC students. “Not only did he impress with his knowledge of literary technique, Nathan connected with students around the value of meaningful work, which suggested a deep and intuitive understanding of the ways our creative writing classrooms are enhanced by all they learn on their crews. We couldn’t ask for a better fit.”
Instituted in 1997, the Beebe is one-year teaching fellowship at WWC, open only to alumni of the MFA Program for Writers. The Beebe Fellow teaches five courses in the undergraduate creative writing program, supervises the group of undergraduates who attend the January MFA residency, assists with the undergraduate literary magazine, and generally takes part in the life of the College. Application guidelines are posted on the program website and on the Friends of Writers blog each September for the next academic year’s fellowship.
Two poems from faculty member Daniel Tobin’s new book The Net are featured on Poetry Daily for Friday, April 18, 2014:
Bright grit, pellet, bead of summeriest bronze
Broken off the string of a furled necklace,
Pearl of my anger’s petrifying slough,
I loaded the like of it one by one
One afternoon into the barrel’s craw,
Then went for those boys and their mocking names
With my father’s tree-target gun, my aim
Honed to the moment when the pupil narrows—
Continue reading online.
A poem by faculty member Rodney Jones appears online as a part of Kenyon Review‘s Weekend Reads:
The Art of Heaven
In the middle of my life I came to a dark wood,
the smell of barbecue, kids running in the yards.
Not deep depression. The nice Hell of suburbs.
Speed bumps. The way things aren’t quite paradise.
Nights I read Speer’s Inside the Third Reich. He made
Hitler so amiable. It seemed important to see that.
There had been a murder in town. The victim
was Lucia’s student, a naturalist and promising poet.
Continue reading online at The Kenyon Review.
A new interview with faculty member Mary Szybist appears online in The Paris Review:
Alex Dueben: Incarnadine deals with the Annunciation—the visitation of Mary by the angel Gabriel, who tells her that she will have God’s son—and the implications and meaning of such an event. It’s an encounter between the human and something beyond human understanding. Your book is an attempt to describe the indescribable through poetry—which is something that prayer can do, also.
Mary Szybist: Prayer is one way to do this—and yes, I have thought about the connections between poetry and prayer for a long time, and sometimes I am even tempted to believe that they are similar engagements. When I was young, I reached a point where I found myself unable to pray. I was devastated by it. I missed being able to say words in my head that I believed could be heard by a being, a consciousness outside me. That is when I turned to poetry.
I have always been attracted to apostrophe, perhaps because of its resemblance to prayer. A voice reaches out to something beyond itself that cannot answer it. I find that moving in part because it enacts what is true of all address and communication on some level—it cannot fully be heard, understood, or answered. Still, some kinds of articulations can get us closer to such connections—connections between very different consciousnesses—and I think the linguistic ranges in poetry can enable that.
Continue reading the rest of the interview online at The Paris Review.