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MFA Program To Launch Fall Series With Award-Winning Poet

Oct. 2, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt, Scott Kaukonen

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The Sam Houston State University MFA program in creative writing will bring to campus this year a mix of visiting and local writers whose poetry and prose, work in translation and graphic novel represent the many creative outlets for budding writers as part of the program's fall reading series.

Easy Math coverKicking off Monday (Oct. 7), poet Lauren Shapiro will share pieces from her award-winning debut poetry collection Easy Math, beginning at 6 p.m. in Austin Hall.

“Lauren Shapiro’s poems fall somewhere between deadpan stand-up routine and stream-of-consciousness lyric, somewhere between an expert sleight-of-hand act and channel surfing at 3 a.m.,” said Nick Lantz, SHSU assistant professor of English. “The worlds we visit in her poetry are fraught, poignant, and often border the absurd, as when a caretaker pushes ‘a quadriplegic’s nose into a rose bush’ named after Martha Stewart or when a classroom of frustrated ESL students disrobe in protest of fickle prepositions. In these poems, ‘the proposition never/leads to the conclusion’—instead, their logic is paratactic, associational, and slyly resonant.”

Shapiro received her Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature from Brown University and her Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

A former associate acquiring editor at the Yale University Press, she has translated poetry from Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese and Arabic into English. Her poems have been published in such journals as Pool, Passages North, 32 Poems, Forklift, Ohio, Drunken Boat, notnostrums and Thermos. Easy Math was recognized with the Kathryn A. Morton Prize.

Shapiro also is a curator of the Monsters of Poetry Reading Series and an assistant editor at Rescue Press. She lives in Hartford, Conn.

“Rescue Press is an independent publisher committed to promoting cutting-edge works from a broad spectrum of genres: poetry, essays, art, science, and almost anything that excites and enriches the reader,” Lantz said.

The reading series will continue in October with a special event featuring Michael Demson, an assistant professor in the SHSU Department of English, who will give a multi-media presentation and discuss his work on Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. in the Academic Building IV Olson Auditorium.

A specialist in transatlantic literature and European Romanticisms, Demson has authored the graphic novel Masks of Anarchy: The History Of A Radical Poem, From Percy Shelley To The Triangle Factory Fire, illustrated by Summer McClinton.

MFA Reading Series
Fall Schedule

Oct. 7
Lauren Shapiro, author of the award-winning poetry collection Easy Math
at 6 p.m. in Austin Hall

Oct. 24
Michael Demson, author of the graphic novel Masks of Anarchy: The History Of A Radical Poem, From Percy Shelley To The Triangle Factory Fire
at 6 p.m. in Academic Building IV's Olson Auditorium

Nov. 18
Michael Sheehan, author of the novel Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned
at 6 p.m. in Austin Hall

Dec. 2
Helena Halmari and Scott Kaukonen, translators for Anja Snellman’s Finnish novel Pet Shop Girls
at 6 p.m. in Austin Hall

Masks of Anarchy tells the story of Shelley’s poem by the same name, from its conception in Italy in 1819 and its suppression in England to the moment it became a catalyst for protest among New York City workers a century later.

On Nov. 18, Michael Sheehan, an assistant professor of English at Stephen F. Austin University, will read from his novel Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned, beginning at 6 p.m. in Austin Hall.

Finally, the fall semester will close with a bilingual reading from SHSU English faculty Helena Halmari and Scott Kaukonen on Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. in Austin Hall.

Halmari, chair of the English department, and Kaukonen, director of the MFA program in creative writing, will share their translation of Anja Snellman’s Finnish novel Pet Shop Girls.

Snellman is widely regarded as one of Finland’s leading contemporary novelists, but this is the first of her works to be translated into English, according to Kaukonen.

Halmari is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Finnish Studies, and Kaukonen serves as an associate editor of the journal.

In the spring, the series will include fiction writer Kyle Minor on Feb. 13, poet Kevin Prufer on April 8 and Lantz on April 23.

Minor is the author of the short story collections In the Devil’s Territory and the forthcoming Praying Drunk. He’s currently an assistant professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis.

Prufer, the director of the graduate creative writing program at the University of Houston, is the author of six collections of poetry, including the forthcoming Churches.

Lantz will read poems from his forthcoming How to Dance as the Roof Caves In, his third full-length collection.

The Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, editing, and publishing at SHSU is beginning its second year.

The program is home to the Texas Review Press, Texas Review, and the soon-to-be launched Gordian Review, an online literary journal that will publish the works of graduate students from across the country.

For more information about the reading series or the MFA program, contact Kaukonen at kaukonen@shsu.edu or 936.294.1407.




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