Monday, August 26, 2013

Otter Nonsense

Graduate alumna Kerry Hogan (Kerry Hughes as was) has called the Tenants' attention to Discourse on the Otter, a Tumblr blog that, um, enlivens quotations from contemporary theory, as demonstrated by this gem derived from Judith Butler:

The Tenants are particularly taken by the quote from Richard Nixon, but we'll let you discover that for yourselves. Thanks to Kerry for giving us a good laugh at the start of the school year.

Cheat River Review

---Cheat River Review is the MFA program's new online literary journal. But you already knew about that, right? In any case, here's the very pretty web site... take a look and help us spread the word, ok?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Virginia Butts Sturm Creative Writing Scholarship

English majors who are currently pursuing the Creative Writing Concentration and have completed at least three credit hours in the concentration are encouraged to apply for the Virginia Butts Sturm Creative Writing Scholarship. 

 To apply for the $1000 scholarship, students should submit a writing sample and their name, address, telephone number, and email address to Marsha Bissett, 100 Colson Hall by Monday, September 9.  The writing sample should consist of either 5-10 poems or one work of fiction or creative nonfiction, with a maximum 25 pages.

 The recipient of this scholarship will be notified after September 23 and will receive the scholarship in the following spring semester.  The public announcement of the recipient will be at the evening reading of the 2013 Virginia Butts Sturm Writer in Residence, Janisse Ray.  That reading is scheduled for Monday, September 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Gold Ballroom, WVU Mountainlair. 

 Although any West Virginia University student, regardless of major, can pursue a Creative Writing Concentration, this scholarship may only be awarded to a student majoring in English as stipulated by the benefactors.  Past recipients include Caleb Stacy (2013-14); Emily Isaacs (2012-13); Kimberly Nold (2011-12); Brandy Hoover (2009-10); Kelly Sundberg (2008-09); Marit Ericson (2007-08); Nick Gaudio (2006-07); Sarah Whitney Holmes (2005-06); Aaron Flanagan (2004-05); Tricia Almase (2003-04); Abigail Aikens (2002-03); Natalie Sypolt (2001-02); Jessica Harriman (2000-01); Ann Marie Lavorata (1999-2000); Nicole Sheets (1998-99); Scott Matthews (1997-98); Adriane Schramm (1996-97);  Ruth Ann Schmitt (1995-96); and Michael Thobois (1994-95).

Virginia Butts Sturm Workshop

The Department of English announces

Janisse Ray

2013 Virginia Butts Sturm Writer in Residence 

Through the generosity of the Sturm endowment, students at West Virginia University are given the opportunity to study for one week with a nationally renowned visiting writer in a workshop setting.  Janisse Ray, author of The Seed Underground and Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, is the writer selected to lead the 2013 Virginia Butts Sturm Writer-in-Residence Workshop, which is scheduled for September 30-October 4.

The Sturm Residency sponsors the writer in a free public reading, which will be held on Monday, September 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Gold Ballroom, WVU Mountainlair.

Janisse Ray is a writer, naturalist, and activist. Her publications include five books of literary nonfiction and a collection of poetry. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called Ray’s most recent book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, an “enchanting narrative—part memoir, part botany primer, part political manifesto.” The Seed Underground has won several awards including the Nautilus Gold Book Award Better Books for a Better World in the Green Living Category, the American Horticultural Society Book Award, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors Arlene Eisenberg Award for Writing that Makes a Difference. Her highly acclaimed Ecology of a Cracker Childhood was a New York Times Notable Book and won the Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction in 2000. Ray holds an MFA from the University of Montana, and she is on the faculty of Chatham University’s low-residency MFA program. She lives on a farm in Southern Georgia.

 How to Apply for the Workshop:

 Students interested in being considered for the Sturm Residency should submit 10-15 typed pages of nonfiction to Marsha Bissett in the Department of English (room 100, Colson Hall) by Monday, September 2, 2013.  With the entry, students will be asked to complete a Manuscript Submission Form, which will list name, address, telephone number and other information.  Students may also email their entry as a single attachment to Within the body of the email, please include your name, address, and telephone number. Please note: anyone enrolled as a student at WVU is eligible to participate in the Sturm Writer-in-Residence Workshop.

 The 12 students selected for the workshop will be notified by September 16th. If selected, students are required to attend the Monday, September 30, evening public reading.  Janisse Ray will then meet with them Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.  An optional, closing event is held on Friday.  Students who complete the workshop will receive one hour of English credit.

 Questions?  Contact Professor Mary Ann Samyn at 293-9730 or

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MFA Annual Rooftop Reading

by Rebecca Doverspike
On the last Thursday before before the start of the Fall 2013 semester, we held our 3rd annual Rooftop Reading at Cafe Montmarte atop Hotel Morgan. Such a reading began, thanks to our COW predecessors, during my first year entering the MFA program and it was such a wonderful welcoming that it turned into tradition. We couldn’t have asked for clearer weather—light blue skies and a sun setting just a little faster than during the heart of summer—as we heard from 3rd and 2nd years as well as some brave 1st years. Thanks to Cafe Montmarte for hosting, all the COW officers (especially President Hannah McPherson) for putting on the event, everyone who attended and those who read, and, to our ever-encouraging faculty. It was wonderful to reunite and meet new faces, and geared us all up for an energetic and productive year. Below are some photos (all courtesy of Fiction Professor Glenn Taylor):

MFA Director Mary Ann Samyn and English Chair Jim Harms (both fantastic poetry professors), ready to listen.

2nd year nonfiction writer, Sadie, gives us witty and thought-provoking insight as she ponders how childhood experiences shape a person.

 2nd year MFA, Xin Tian, reading her ever-eloquent poetry.

2nd year poet and CRR Editor, Patric, reading powerful words involving loss and bus rides (sometimes interwoven).

2nd year MFA and COW President Hannah McPherson reading some thoughtful creative nonfiction about her time in Turkey.

Writers come in all heights! From front to back: Sadie, Morgan, Mari, and John.

Some old and new MFAs chatting after the reading.