‘Southwest Review’ literary journal is turning 100


Originally Posted: September 17, 2015

Dallas (SMU) – When the week of Sept. 25 rolls around, SMU won’t be the only Hilltop institution celebrating its centennial.

The Southwest Review, SMU’s nationally renowned literary journal, is turning 100, too, and launching a fundraiser to support its future.

“One-hundred years, for any magazine, is remarkable,” says Willard Spiegelman, editor-in-chief of the Southwest Review and SMU Hughes professor of English. “Over the years, there have been international authors, including some Nobel Prize winners. Larry McMurtry, before he became famous for Lonesome Dove, published his first work in SWR when he was just out of college. Lady Bird Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover have appeared in its pages.

“It would be sad, I think, if we didn’t have room for old-fashioned print culture in the 21st century,” says Spiegelman, who passionately rejects human expression as driven by 140-character messages and emoticons. READ MORE

Dean Dipiero discusses new Harper Lee novel

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: September 10, 2015

On Wednesday, Sept. 2, dean Thomas DiPiero of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences hosted a lecture discussing Harper Lee’s newest novel “To Go Set A Watchmen.”

To celebrate the 55th anniversary of her Pulitzer Prize winning novel “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Lee released the story’s ‘prequel’ in July. The 1960’s classic is one of the most influential American novels of its time; it has sold over 40 million copies and has been translated into 40 different languages.

The cultural and social issues that create Lee’s first novel lead experts like DiPiero to believe that it is important to read “To Kill A Mockingbird” again as an adult. Although it is a required reading in nearly 70 percent of our country’s junior high and high schools, he says that, “the simplicity in how Scout explains such complex issues such as racism and murder is what makes Lee’s novel so brilliant, but also much more complicated than we may first understand.”

In “To Go Set A Watchmen,” Scout returns as the narrator, but is 20 years older and has moved from the small southern town to New York City. Although it was one of the most highly anticipated book releases of all time, many readers have criticized “Watchmen” for destroying so many aspects that made Lee’s first novel so brilliant.

DiPiero argues that “Watchman” is not a failed attempt to recapture the essence of “Mockingbird,” but rather a depiction of how times have changed in the characters’ lives and in the society in which we live.

DiPiero adds that “To Kill A Mockingbird” was written in first person, from the ironic perspective of a child who knows more than she should, leaving us as readers to fill in the gaps.”

Contrastingly, “To Go Set A Watchman” is written from the third person perspective, which DiPiero believes “is a voice that tells us, rather than shows us how characters think and act.”

So, even though “Watchman” may not become the groundbreaking book that “Mockingbird” is, DiPiero acknowledges Harper Lee’s ability to challenge her readers to question what we know and who we think we are, as every good author should. READ MORE

David Haynes, associate professor of English reviews ‘Wading Home’

Times Picayune

Originally Posted: September 9, 2015

‘Wading Home’: Opera explores the Katrina experience of a New Orleans family

“This is simply a wonderfully told, beautiful story and ought to be appealing to any reader who loves a wonderful story. It’s not about the disaster. This is a book about how as a consequence of the disaster people connect more deeply to their roots. I was drawn to how it drives these characters back to this piece of land and to their need to really reclaim home.” — David Haynes, director of creative writing and associate professor of English at SMU. “


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

SMU News


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


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


“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


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.


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