Creative Writing Alumni Publications
Elephant's Memory of Blizzards
Neil de la Flor, M.F.A., 2005
Marsh Hawk Press, March 2013
An Elephant's Memory of Blizzards--March 2013. The book explores the duality of spirituality, the language of electronic music & images and the cost & consequences of child sexual abuse. Fun, seriously!
I Can Explain
Jason McCall, M.F.A., 2009
Finishing Line Press, forthcoming 2013
In Jason McCall's I Can Explain, comic books and consumerism collide in a poetic world that is as heartbreaking as it is clever. These poems cut to the quick with a wit that is razor sharp, but McCall's humanity and honesty give I Can Explain the staying power of an unforgettable book. – Mia Leonin
Jason McCall, M.F.A., 2009
Marsh Hawk Press, forthcoming 2013
Winner of the 2012 Marsh Hawk Press Prize
Criss Jean Chappell, M.F.A., 1999
Flux, April 2012
"You're going to hate me forever when you learn my secret."
When his little sister is caught with a bag of weed, seventeen-year-old Aaron Foster takes the fall. To keep the cops from tearing his family apart, Aaron agrees to go undercover and help bust the dealer who's funneling drugs into his Miami high school. But making friends with the school's biggest players isn't easy for a waste-case loner from the wrong part of town.
Stuck between the cops on one hand and a crazy party scene on the other, Aaron befriends Morgan Baskin—a cute but troubled rich girl who might be his link to the supplier. But just when he realizes he's falling for Morgan, the unbearable weight of his lies threatens to crush them both.
Two Thieves and a Liar
Neil de la Flor, M.F.A., 2005
co-authored with Maureen Seaton & Kristine Snodgrass
Jackleg Press, December 2012
Jason McCall, M.F.A., 2009
Main Street Rag, 2012
This is a book of inheritances, cycles, natures, mythologies: all real, and all imagined. There is no navigating McCall's oceans, in which the deeply personal is also the deeply mythic. Here, all heroes shape-shift, all gods trick; myths intrigue, deceive and give no answers. As he writes, it is "the dark forces that chain the universe together." We are to "watch the man who was born of lightning flood the world with light," though whether that light is a fire that warms or one that burns the house down is anyone's guess. In this funny, moody, idiosyncratic book, we are all busted superheroes. We are all gods, all frail, all pieces of the very puzzle we try eternally to solve. – Ashley McWaters
Sinead O' Connor and Her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds
Neil de la Flor, M.F.A., 2005, co-authored with Maureen Seaton
Winner of the Sentence Award. Co-authored by Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton, Sinead O' Connor and her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds is a hybrid, non-linear narrative collaboration spawned or spun out of the eye of Hurricane Francis. The book is not about "Sinead O'Connor or the gathering impulse of blue birds ... It's about our (de la Flor and Seaton's) personal interior landscapes that fracture and wind around each other like a tornado winds around the wind. This book is about weathermen and pink-eyed women. And thermospheres. We have no idea what this book is about. Ask Sallie."
Neil de la Flor, M.F.A., 2005
Marsh Hawk Press, 2010
Poetry Prize for 2009
Praise from Forrest Gander, Contest Judge: "With a scenery-chewing imagination, deft linguistic cuts, slippery line breaks and disjointed or dehiscent narrative elements, Neil de la Flor abandons genre rules to explore gender roles, religion, domestic relations, science and history. The poems of Almost Dorothy take place in spectacular leaps away from conventional patterns of development. They suggest a kind of super symmetry that links saints, elementary particles, two boys dressed for Halloween as Dorothy, and a butch Brazilian barman. Revisionary and anachronistic in its referencing and formally restless with its lyrics, lists, prose poems, definitions, and dramatic dialogues, Almost Dorothy is the red-headed stepchild of Antony (without the Johnsons) and Jean Cocteau. Infusing poetry with theater, Neil de la Flor is at once bitingly original, funny, and uncompromising."
Just Being Audrey
Margaret Cardillo, M.F.A., 2009
HarperCollins, Balzer & Bray Books, 2011
From Roman Holiday to Breakfast at Tiffany's, when Audrey Hepburn starred in a movie, she lit up the screen. Her unique sense of fashion, her grace, and, most important, her spirit made her beloved by generations. But her life offscreen was even more luminous. As a little girl growing up in Nazi-occupied Europe, she learned early on that true kindness is the greatest measure of a person—and it was a lesson she embodied as she became one of the first actresses to use her celebrity to shine a light on the impoverished children of the world through her work with UNICEF.
This is Audrey Hepburn as a little girl, an actress, an icon, an inspiration; this is Audrey just being Audrey.
Havana and Other Missing Fathers
University of Arizona, 2009
Mia Leonin spent the first sixteen years of her life believing her father was dead. All she knew of the man came through stories told by her mother. At times he had been a surgeon, at others a psychiatrist. In truth, he had been a fantasy.
Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Leonin learned from her mother that her father, a Cuban exile, was very much alive and living in Florida. Her attempts to contact him, however, were thwarted until four years later, when she left home in search of her roots.
Insightful, imaginative, and often poetic, Havana and Other Missing Fathers is Mia Leonin's recollection of this journey and her longing to learn more about her origins. In the end, she must learn to accept the answers she discovers as well as the questions that remain.
Who's Your Daddy? And Other Stories
Peepal Tree Press Ltd., 2009
A bold, multilayered mixture of styles and genres that address contemporary life and the complexity of immigrant communities, this collection of short stories focuses on the lives of people living in Miami and Jamaica while exploring the realms of sexuality, prejudice, troubled childhoods, adolescence, and the uncanny. From a casual game of dominoes that reveals the deep undercurrent of affection between father and son to the laugh-out-loud inventiveness of a dreadlocked vampire, the engaging personal voice in these works delve deep into the complexity of human relationships.
Thomas B. Cavanagh, B.S., 1988
Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, 2008
"Cavanagh's crackerjack pace and his hero's lack of self-pity compellingly dramatize the chaos of Mike's life." -- Kirkus Reviews
"With the clarity of Robert B. Parker and the complexity of Michael Connelly, Prodigal Son disturbs and charms at the same time." -- Booklist
Unraveling the Bed
In Unraveling the Bed, Mia Leonin invents a remarkably specific and vertiginous world of veils and magic, blood and azul thinning to translucent, a frightening and tender portrait of a woman who is sometimes barely breathing and, at other times, rising fully into her opaque human self. What is most remarkable to me in these poems is Leonin's craft -- language that is mouth-wateringly rich, whether in line-breaks or prose -- and the way the poems seem to paint themselves before the eyes. I am grateful for this feast of words and for the enormous spirit behind them, and for the complex stories that changed me as I read. To quote Rukeyser... there is an exchange here in which our lives are met, and created. Mia Leonin offers us a work that raises and transforms energy from a deep, wise, and holy place. -- Maureen Seaton, author of Venus Examines Her Breast
No One You Know
"Heartbreaking and compelling…Richmond gracefully weaves in fascinating background material on the coffee culture and the field of mathematics as she thoughtfully explores family dynamics, the ripple effects of tragedy, and the importance of the stories we tell. Combine all that with perfect pacing and depth of insight, and you have a thoroughly riveting literary thriller." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist, Starred Review
Thomas B. Cavanagh
Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, 2007
With two ex-wives, a fifteen-year-old daughter who hates him, and a brain tumor he calls Bob, retired police detective Mike Garrity doesn't have a lot to live for. He's resigned himself to spending his last months alone until an old colleague offers him a chance to go out with a bang, leave his daughter with an inheritance, and maybe even earn her respect. TJ, frontman of his daughter's favorite boy band, has disappeared, putting at risk a world tour and millions in endorsements. TJ's frantic manager hires Mike to locate his golden goose, but it isn't long before Mike discovers other characters looking for TJ too. And once a headless corpse shows up, it's clear that they're not just after him for his autograph.
Total Constant Order
Crissa-Jean Chappell, B.S., 1997
Fin can't stop counting. She's always heard a voice inside her head, ordering her to listen, but ever since she's moved to the Sunshine State and her parents split up, numbers thump like a metronome, rhythmically keeping things in control. When a new doctor introduces terms such as "clinical depression" and "OCD" and offers a prescription for medication, the chemical effects make Fin feel even more messed up. Until she meets Thayer, a doodling, rule-bending skater who buzzes to his own beat—and who might just understand Fin's hunger to belong, and her struggle for total constant order.
Crissa-Jean Chappell's candid and vividly told debut novel shares the story of a young teen's experience with obsessive compulsive disorder and her remarkable resolve to find her own inner strength.
Deep in the Mountain
"[T]he Chinese setting and culture add depth and historical value to Tony's coming of age. Master Zhu is a wise man who has lived through much political upheaval and still can find serenity in nature and art. His story emphasizes the survival of human character and the healing spirit of art."
J--Recommended for junior high students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers. S--Recommended for senior high school students.
*Review and Recommendations from Kliatt, July 1, 2007
The Year of Fog
"A mesmerizing novel of loss and grief, hope and redemption, and the endurance of love." ~Library Journal, starred review
The Year of Fog was selected by Library Journal as one of the "Best Books of 2007," and by Kirkus Reviews as a "Top Pick for Reading Groups." It was also a Washington Post "A-list book", a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book, and a Target Bookmarked Club Pick, and is now in its fifteenth trade paperback printing. The Year of Fog spent numerous weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, in addition to other bestseller lists across the country and in Europe, and has been published or is forthcoming in ten languages. The film adaptation of The Year of Fog, starring Rachel Weisz, is in pre-production with Newmarket Films. For film updates and other news, join the Year of Fog facebook page.
Mean Martin Manning
ENC Press, forthcoming 2007
"If Franz Kafka were funny, if, while down at his local pub in Prague, he had fired off one witty, sarcastic rejoinder after another about the absurdity of the world, then he would have written a novel like Scott Stein's Mean Martin Manning … Manning narrates his story as a first-rate smart-ass, taking aim at a society that shoves health and happiness down its citizens' throats … [a] gem of a book … The scary part of it all is that Stein's novel is no dystopian vision of a distant future. The time is now. Guard your salami and mayonnaise. Mean Martin Manning for President!" — Edward Pettit in the Philadelphia City Paper, cross-posted at Pettit's blog
Celia Lisset Alvarez, M.F.A., 1995
Spire Press, 2006
Winner of the 2005 Spire Poetry Award
"Alvarez's language is sure-footed, precise and unflinching in her descriptions of domestic life. Many of the poems, such as her sonnet crown gem, "Mother," examine women's societal roles. In the scathing poem, "Papi," an homage to Plath's "Daddy," Alvarez takes on the establishment in the person of Cuba's Castro. In a masterpiece that records the poverty and despair of modern life, "Hialeah," Alvarez describes the road into the city this way, "All day long the traffic groans / like a birthing woman."
—Lana Hechtman Ayers, author of Love is a Weed, editor of the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Series.
Celia Lisset Alvarez
Finishing Line, 2006
The Orchid Keeper
Dedalus Press, 2006
' … a fascinating collection … in the Lady with the Coronet of Jasmine the struggle between Christian Orthodoxy and Freudian libido is a strikingly successful use of the dramatic monologue. At 81 tercets, it is also courageously long in the era of the short personal lyric … a rich offering. - The Irish Times, December 2006
St. Martin's, 2006
The Fortune Teller's Kiss
University of Nebraska Press, 2006
The memoir is about growing up in the Bronx in the 1950s, as an adored child performer in a Sephardic family of belly dancers and fortunetellers. It details Serotte's bout with paralytic polio during one of America's worst epidemics, her subsequent miraculous recovery, and the impact that contagious illness had on her Turkish-Jewish clan.
Love and Ghost Letters
Chantel Acevedo, M.F.A., 1999
St. Martin’s Press, 2005
Love and Ghost Letters is enchanting; a heartfelt story. It tells volumes about the intimate life and loves of a family in pre-Castro Cuba. Along the way, it captures, beautifully, the atmosphere and emotions of a time which, both Cuban Americans and many an American reader, will find both reminiscent and fulfilling. A great debut.”
-Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
Thomas B. Cavanagh
Hilliard & Harris, 2005
Fantasy meets reality when a deranged killer targets tourists at a major Orlando theme park called Empire Realm. P.I. Kevin Lonnegan heads undercover as a park employee to find the killer before another murder occurs. Along the way, Kevin crosses paths with an old nemesis, finally comes to terms with the demons of his own past, and confronts the killer in a life or death struggle that will leave only one person standing. Your ticket is waiting. Welcome to… Murderland.
For Nothing At All
Macmillan Caribbean, 2005
Garfield Ellis' For Nothing At All is an emotionally-wrenching tale of politics, boyhood and force-ripe manhood. Published by Macmillan Caribbean Writers Series, it is a story that displays the hearts of men and boys and paintsa shudder-inducing picture of how politics infiltrates and warps friendships.
- The Jamaican Gleaner, November 26, 2006
Twelve Poems and A Story for Christmas
In A Miami Christmas Story, Raymond Allen, a despairing musician and family man, wrestles with his pride that is both the source of his sorrow and redemption.
Twelve Poems and a Story for Christmas explores the inner lives of characters that surround this perennial story and reveals a human dilemma: to find meaning behind the events in our lives.
Marry Your Baby Daddy
St. Martin's, 2005
"Witty and sexy. You'll find yourself married to the pages of this novel."
--Eric E. Pete, author of Gets No Love and Don't Get It Twisted
Mr. Satisfaction: Four Sensuous Novellas
St. Martin's, 2005
The Blue Farm
Brenda Serotte, M.F.A., 1997
Ginninderra Press, 2005
"The poems in Brenda Serotte's The Blue Farm range across a wide and vivid landscape of loves and cultures, losses and revelations. Each of these probing, honest poems is informed by a profound sense of history, of family, of culture. They have been gathered here into a collection that truly feels larger than the sum of its parts, as each poem resonates against its companions to form a self-portrait of a rich and varied life, drawn by a woman of gracious individuality." --Michael Hettich, author of Flock and Shadow: New and Selected Poems (New Rivers Press, 2005), and Swimmer Dreams (Turning Point, 2005).
Such As I Have
Macmillan Caribbean, 2003
Headly is the cream. And he knows it. He's the most gifted cricketer on the Slygoville team, the most sought-after bachelor amongst the village girls, popular with the men and a hero to the boys. He can eat at any table in the village, sleep in any bed. So what can explain his growing obsession with a girl he once scorned, the daughter of the village pariah, the obeahwarning woman? And why does this strange girl Pam resist his advances? What is the mystery in her life?
Song of Thieves
Shara McCallum, B.A., 1994
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003
A lyrical examination of loss and grief, Song of Thieves delves into issues of racial identity and politics, the immigrant experience, and the search for "home" and for family histories. McCallum artfully blends Jamaican patois, parables, songs, nursery rhymes, and other features of orality into her poems. She evinces an ear for the intrinsic music of poetry in this haunting and ambitious collection. Song of Thieves confirms her reputation as one of the most compelling new voices in American poetry.
The Drowning of the Saints
Paul Perry, M.F.A., 1997
Salmon Poetry, 2003
"The Drowning of the Saints is a remarkable triumph. The poems are a coalition of imaginative flair and formal discipline. Each poem bristles with life and longing, intelligence and wit. These are lines and stanzas and poems that signal wisdom beyond his youth. In this sense he is a prodigiously gifted poet. I feel he will distinguish himself as one of the most original of younger writers.
- Fred D'Aguiar, author of The Longest Memory
Benjamin, My Son
Peepal Tree, 2003
Geoffrey Philp is a literary shaman, a weaver of spells that reveal unexpected and marvelous things about life, that carry the news of island culture to the mainland.
Use Me or Lose Me: A Novel of Love, Sex, and Drama
St. Martin's, 2003
"Use Me or Lose Me is a fresh and exciting must-read."
--Kimberla Lawson Roby, bestselling author of A Taste of Reality
Dream of the Blue Room: A Novel
"Some childhood relationships are so fulfilling they shape our lives and leave us wondering why they didn't last longer. Richmond captures, explores, and intertwines these bonds so elegantly, you might even think the relationships are your own." - USA Today
Sons of Heaven: A Novel
Terrence Cheng, M.F.A., 1997
William Morrow & Co, 2002
"This remarkably structured and textured debut epic seeks to attach a face to the mysterious man who, by stepping in front of the rolling army tanks, became the most recognizable symbol of the massacres. Cheng succeeds in his endeavor...a multifaceted and sophisticated portrait of the Chinese people is rendered. This is a rare find." -Publishers Weekly (starred review), May 6, 2002
The Palace of Bones: Poems
Allison Eir Jenks, M.F.A., 1998
Ohio University Press, 2002
Winner of the 2001 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize.
The Palace of Bones by Allison Eir Jenks is an often stark and startling vision of the way we live, the places we inhabit, and the relics we make to comfort ourselves.
Haunted by a quiet, unquenchable longing, Jenks expertly and calmly guides the reader through a vivid dreamscape in this first full-length collection of poems.
The Palace of Bones was selected by final judge and Pulitzer Prize winner Carolyn Kizer. At once dark in its vision and light in its tone, this remarkable book is its author's self-confident invitation for us to join her in a world she knows intimately and has made almost familiar if not entirely safe.
The Palace of Bones is a stunning debut.
Sex and the Single Sister: Five Novellas
Maryann Reid, M.F.A., 2004
St. Martin's, 2002
"Sex and the Single Sister is a page turner! Each novella will take you to a different place." - E. Lynn Harris, New York Times Bestselling author
Wake Rasta and other Stories
Tallawa Press, 2001
Short stories by Garfield Ellis, a Jamaican writer whose work has received several distinguished awards and appeared in numerous international publications.
Peepal Tree, 2001
The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress: Stories
Michelle Richmond, M.F.A., 1998
University of Massachusetts Press, 2001
Winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award
"The stories in Michelle Richmond's first collection spin artfully off the life of a single character; smart and adept." The New York Times
"Richmond's writing is perceptive and heartfelt, her subjects at once edgy and familiar. This is a winning debut." Publishers Weekly
When Falls the Coliseum: a journal of American culture (or lack thereof)
Free Reign Press, 2001
"Hip, sardonic … quirky … editor Scott Stein examines droll Americana … No matter what your personal politics, When Falls the Coliseum will spark a thought or two."
Scott Stein, M.F.A., 1997
Free Reign Press, 2000
"New York City at the end of the 20th century, and Jeremy, the protagonist of this witty, deadpan debut novel, is being followed, though he doesn't mind. He is, after all, destined for great things, in which case, being followed is to be expected. And yes, he doesn't know why he is being followed. And his job is nothing to brag about either. And a certain police detective has it in for him. And the love of his life doesn't know he exists. And he thinks he's responsible for the death of an innocent man. And his rent is late. And he lost the mysterious envelope that just might have the answers he's looking for. And New York can't seem to leave him in peace. But at least he is being followed. Not everyone can say that. And so with hilarious and winning effect, Stein captures an ordinary guy's life as it descends into an existential car chase through the twisty turns of New York City — getting lost has never been so enjoyable."
— BookSense.com review
Mia Leonin, M.F.A., 1995
What an older poet looks for in a first book by a younger poet is intensity of language -- "the startle effect," a term applied to the grasping motion infants instinctually make. It reminds us of our descent from trees, our human nature, our reliance on speech. Reading Mia Leonin's poems makes me newly aware of how we use imagery to save ourselves from falling. Leonin is observant and imaginative. In one instance she is inside the mind of a blind person; in another, an aged woman. The nuances of her environment are not lost on her. Potions and magic spells exert a powerful hold on her work as she struggles to come to terms with her part-Hispanic, part Midwestern background. Some of these poems are oracular, hard to riddle. A few are abstract and defy definition. But on balance this is a lively and engaging first book. -- Maxine Kumin
The Water Between Us
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999
Shara McCallum is the eighteenth winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, one of the nation's most prestigious awards for a first book of poetry.
The Water Between Us is a poetic examination of cultural fragmentation, and the exile's struggle to reconcile the disparate and often conflicting influences of the homeland and the adopted country. The book also centers on other kinds of physical and emotional distances: those between mothers and daughters, those created by being of mixed racial descent, and those between colonizers and the colonized. Despite these distances, or perhaps because of them, the poems affirm the need for a multilayered and cohesive sense of self. McCallum's language is precise and graceful. Drawing from Anancy tales, Greek myth, and biblical stories, the poems deftly alternate between American English and Jamaican patois, and between images both familiar and surreal.
Peepal Tree, 1998
Geoffrey Philps's poems stare into the dark heart of a world where hurricanes, both meteorological and metaphorical, threaten you to the last cell. But the sense of dread also reveals what is most precious in life, for the dark and accidental are put in the larger context of season and human renewal, and Hurricane Center returns always to the possibilities of redemption and joy
In the voices of Jamaican prophets, Cuban exiles, exotic dancers, drunks, racetrack punters, canecutters, rastamen, middle-class householders and screw-face ghetto sufferers, Geoffrey Philp writes poetry, which is both intimately human and cosmic in scale. On the airwaves between Miami and Kingston, the rhythms of reggae and mambo dance through these poems.
Peepal Tree, 1998
Whilst other Caribbean poets have explored the resources of nation language, few have pushed the collision between roots language and classical poetic form further than Philp.
Uncle Obadiah and the Alien
Peepal Tree, 1997
If Dickens were reincarnated as a Jamaican Rastaman, he would write stories as hilarious and humane as these. Uncle Obadiah and the other stories collected here announce Geoffrey Philp as a direct descendent of Bob Marley: poet, philosophizer, spokesperson for our next new world. -- Robert Antoni, author of Blessed is the Fruit and Divina Trace, Winner of the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize.
Garfield Ellis, M.F.A., 1995
National Book Development Council of Jamaica, 1996
Exodus and Other Poems
Geoffrey Philp, M.A., 1986
The Caribbean Writer, 1990