Creative Writing Alumni Participate in SU Panel Discussion March 21
Event to explore ‘success, significance and authenticity’ in literature
Is there life after the M.F.A.? Fifteen alumni of Syracuse University’s Creative Writing Program think so and are taking up the question at a panel discussion on Thursday, March 21, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in 214 Slocum Hall. The event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences. For more information, call the Creative Writing Program at 315-443-9480.
The event is organized by Arthur Flowers, associate professor of English and an accomplished novelist, essayist and performance poet.
“We thought it would be evocative to ask some of our alumni to come back [to campus] to talk about their work and their struggles,” he says. “Much of the discussion will interrogate the dynamics of success, significance and authenticity in literature.”
The timing of the panel discussion is not lost on Flowers, as the proliferation of M.F.A. programs in the United States—more than 500, at last count—stands in stark contrast to the dwindling number of venues and jobs available to creative writers. Since many M.F.A. alumni don’t become professional writers, he hopes the dialogue from the event will enhance their chances of “making the cut” and producing quality work.
“We want to encourage writers that matter, and works with heart,” says Flowers.
The panelists are as follows:
• Christopher Boucher G’02: “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Novel” (Melville House, 2011)
• Maile Chapman G’01: “Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto” (Graywolf Press, 2010)
• Rebecca Curtis G’01: “Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money” (Harper Perennial, 2007)
• Keith Gessen G’08: “All the Sad, Young Literary Men” (Penguin, 2009)
• Adam Levin G’04: “The Instructions” (McSweeney’s, 2011)
• Ellen Litman G’04: “The Last Chicken in America” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2007)
• Phil LaMarche G’03: “American Youth: A Novel” (Random House, 2008)
• Rahul Mehta G’03: “Quarantine: Stories” (Harper Perennial, 2011)
• E.C. Osondu G’07: “Voice of America: Stories” (Harper Perennial, 2011)
• Jeff Parker G’99: “The Taste of Penny” (Dzanc Books, 2010)
• Salvador Plascencia G’02: “The People of Paper” (Mariner Books, 2006)
• Nina Shope G’03: “Hangings: Three Novellas” (Starcherone Books, 2005)
• Christian TeBordo G’03: “The Awful Possibilities” (Featherproof Books, 2010)
• Daniel Torday G’03: “The Sensualist” (Nouvella, 2012)
• Deb Olin Unferth G’98: “Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War” (Henry Holt and Company, 2011)
With such an illustrious panel, Flowers thinks everyone involved will enjoy themselves. “It will be fun to see everyone together again and to experience the energy they bring to the table,” he says. “We expect a function at the junction. The ‘Cuse Mob is in the house.”
Housed in the Department of English, the creative writing program is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The program is ranked among the top five in the country and has launched the careers of hundreds of authors, poets, scholars and teachers. Every year, applicants from around the world—approximately 500 fiction writers and 150 poets–vie for a dozen openings.