Student draws inspiration from role in organizing national black fiction writer’s literary retreat

SMU News

River-at-kimbilio-retreat-3

DALLAS (SMU) — When SMU creative writing director David Haynes started planning this summer’s Kimbilio Literary Retreat, a weeklong excursion to SMU-in-Taos for African American fiction writers, he knew he’d need a helping hand.

Where to look? He quickly made up his mind to recruit help from his spring intermediate fiction writing class.

“Haynes offered me a work-study position because he needed help with the Kimbilio website and their social media platforms,” says 20-year-old interdisciplinary studies junior River Ribas. “I said, ‘I’m young. I can help you with that.’”

Ribas didn’t realize it then, but the job description would include a lot more than social media duty by the summer’s end. READ MORE

Ezra Greenspan’s biography of William Wells Brown a finalist for Frederick Douglass Book Prize

Acclaim continues for book about escaped slave

bookcover-William-Wells-Brown

SMU English Professor Ezra Greenspan’s acclaimed biography William Wells Brown: An African American Life (W.W. Norton) is a finalist for the prestigious Frederick Douglass Book Prize, one of the most coveted awards for the study of the African-American experience. READ MORE

David Haynes, English, the Kimbilio Retreat at SMU-in-Taos helps black writers hone their craft

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: July 21, 2015

Southern Methodist University is building a supportive relationship between black fiction writers and an SMU sister campus in Taos, N.M.

Black fiction writers are encouraged to consider attending future sessions of the Kimbilio Retreat at the SMU-in-Taos campus. Participants are winding up this year’s retreat, which began Sunday and ends Saturday. The campus, bearing low, adobe-colored buildings, is in Ranchos de Taos, about 10 miles south of Taos.

SMU creative writing director David Haynes began Kimbilio Retreat two years ago, drawing inspiration from Cave Canem, a similar retreat for black poets that has met in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Columbia, S.C. Kimbilio is Swahili for “refuge.”

“This is an ideal place to get away and just focus on writing,” Haynes says of Taos in promotional materials.

At the current retreat, 19 fiction writing fellows are focusing on refining their manuscripts. The fellows draw support from each other, get quiet time to write and receive guidance from published writers and faculty, including Haynes.

“Sometimes you just need to sit and think, and SMU-in-Taos is ideal for doing that,” Haynes says in the materials.

To learn more, visit kimbiliofiction.com/kimbilo or call 214-768-2945. READ MORE

Willard Spiegelman, English, The Southwest Review Turns 100

July 2015 – D Magazine

By Ben Fountain

wiliard-spiegelman

“A hundred years is a long life,” says Willard Spiegelman one warm spring Saturday in the office of the Southwest Review, the magazine he’s edited for the past 30 years. We’re on the fourth floor of Fondren Library at SMU, with a view out the window of rooftops aligned on the campus quad, oak trees in new leaf, and, far in the distance, the jumbled silver skyline of downtown Dallas.

Spiegelman, the Hughes Professor of English at SMU, is in a reflective mood, necessarily so, since his visitor keeps bugging him with questions about the 100th anniversary of the Review’s founding. It’s a fluke, a cosmic hiccup, a kink of cultural fate that the third-oldest continuously published literary review in the country is located in the heart of Dallas, where commerce is king, money screams, and living loud and large is the air we breathe. Try to imagine one of the Ewings sitting back on a quiet Southfork evening to peruse the latest issue of the Review. (Query: did we ever see a Ewing holding an actual book?) Easier to picture a blowup of Einstein’s head superimposed on the orb of Reunion Tower. Who gives a proud Texas damn about literature? READ MORE

Department of English Alumnus, Matt Alexander, featured in D Magazine

D MAGAZINE

JUNE 2015

Made in Dallas
Fifty years ago, we were the nation’s third-largest garment center. Today, a new generation of entrepreneurs is putting those old sewing machines back to work.

BY DICK REAVIS

Stubble-bearded, self-confident Matt Alexander, a 27-year-old Brit born of a Galveston mother, is on his way to becoming a titan of industry—or else he’s gathering material for a novel about failures in the start-up economy. After graduating with an English degree from SMU in 2010, he for a while held a communications job at Southwest Airlines. Then he founded a business consultancy before he took up daydreaming in the WELD co-op work space. Today he operates a company whose material assets consist of a few Apple laptops. The firm does, however, operate two websites that claim more than 250,000 registered users, and in May it attracted a $300,000 investment from several founders of CIC Partners, the private equity firm co-founded by Mayor Mike Rawlings. READ MORE

Department of English Professor emeritus C.W. Smith. writes about a trip across Europe in his latest book

‘Throttled Peacock’ offers wry observations on
European vacation and marriage

New travelogue by SMU Professor emeritus C.W. Smith

DALLAS (SMU) — Two Americans traveling Europe on the cheap with a packet of chili powder in their suitcase – what’s the worst that could go wrong? Turns out, quite a lot. A Throttled Peacock: Observations on the Old World (DeGolyer Library 2015) is a collection of essays inspired by a 1990 trip across Europe and the latest book from SMU professor emeritus C.W. Smith, who taught creative writing in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences from 1985-2012.

“We basically went to 63 different cities and stayed in 63 different beds,” said Smith, who was joined on the trip by his wife, Marcia Smith. “I just kept taking notes about the things that happened to us and when we came back I just started trying to describe some of the experiences we had.

“I didn’t have it in mind to put out a whole collection,” Smith said. “But once I’d written them all, I realized they were very unified because they were based on the same trip with the same personalities having a variety of experiences.” READ MORE

Sage advice for 2015 graduates

Advocate

Originally Posted: May 24, 2015

Danny Heitman’s “At Random”: Sage advice for 2015 graduates

We’re coming to the end of commencement season, that time of year when sage advice blooms from graduation podiums across America. Nothing I’ve heard this month, though, sounds any wiser than a speech by Willard Spiegelman to students at his home campus, Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Spiegelman has taught English at SMU for many years, and he also edits The Southwest Review — a small journal, published four times a year, that’s full of good ideas. Spiegelman’s teaching and editing seem like enough to fill a life, but he’s also written about art and culture for The Wall Street Journal.

In 2011, the newspaper sent Spiegelman to Louisiana to write about the Audubon collection at LSU’s Hill Memorial Library. I took him to dinner, not quite knowing what to expect. I’d followed Spiegelman’s work in The Journal and liked it a lot, but writers aren’t always as charming in person as they are in print. The French have a warning about this. As their proverb goes, the difference between reading a writer and meeting a writer can be like eating duck pâté, then meeting the duck.

Spiegelman is, luckily, as warm and engaging in person as he is on the page. Which is why, when I recently stumbled on a video of Spiegelman’s 2014 speech at SMU, I knew I had to watch.

“I can’t tell you how to make the world a better place, and I’m not going to give you any inspirational lessons, and I hope you all hug one another,” he tells students, “but I’m here today to speak on behalf of selfishness, and I’ll tell you why.”

Selfishness? That’s an odd virtue to be promoting among young minds freshly trained with a university education — and now ready, presumably, to give back. But Spiegelman is talking about selfishness of a special sort: the capacity to close out the rest of the world, if only briefly, so that you can truly know yourself.

That kind of reflection requires quiet, a commodity in scarce supply these days. “Always carry earplugs,” Spiegelman tells his young audience. “We live in a world which is so inundated with noise. Do we need CNN in airports? Can you find a restaurant without music? Can you find a restaurant without people screaming? Difficult to do. Always, always carry earplugs.”

Spiegelman offers one other rule for living: “Never go anywhere without a book. Not an iPod, not a Kindle — a book. Because if the power fails, or, if you are trapped by the side of the road waiting for Triple A to come get you, you can read a book.”

Why read? For Spiegelman, the answer is simple: “Books can change a life. They will not change the world, but they might change you.”

There you have it. Always carry earplugs in case the world gets too noisy. And try to keep a book handy to continue your education. If there’s better advice for this year’s graduates, I haven’t found it. READ MORE

Danny Heitman is on Twitter, @Danny_Heitman.

Professors receive tenure, promotions effective in 2015-16

DedmanCollegeRB

 

Congratulations to the Dedman College faculty members who are newly tenured as associate professors or have been promoted to full professorships to begin the 2015-16 academic year.

The following individuals received tenure or promotion effective Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015.

Recommended for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor:

Angela Ards, English
Greg Brownderville, English
Justin Fisher, Philosophy
Matthew Keller, Sociology
Matthew Lockard, Philosophy
Daniel Moss, English
Nia Parson, Anthropology
Christopher Roos, Anthropology
Stephen Sekula, Physics
Alicia Zuese, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)

Recommended for promotion to Full Professor:

Thomas Coan, Physics
Darryl Dickson-Carr, English
Robert Kehoe, Physics
Francisco Morán, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
Tony Ng, Statistical Science
Sherry Wang, Statistical Science

Greg Brownderville – How to Make Up Your Mind (Hint: It Involves Reading Poetry) – TEDxSMU Inside SMU 2015

Originally Posted: April 30, 2015

YouTube Preview Image

WATCH

Brownderville claims that poetry can make one’s mind an interesting place to live. He tells stories about his intense relationship with language, his early experiences of poetry, and his dad’s delight in funny-sounding words.

Greg Brownderville has published a book of poems titled Gust (Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly, 2011) and a book of folkloristic poems titled Deep Down in the Delta (Butler Center Books, 2012). His third book, a collection of poems titled A Horse with Holes in It (LSU Press, Southern Messenger Poets series), is slated for release in fall 2016. Brownderville teaches Introduction to Creative Writing and upper-level poetry workshop.

www.gregbrownderville.com