Kimbilio Literary Retreat: Writers flock to retreat for serenity, beauty of Taos and northern New Mexico


Originally Posted: August 1, 2016

kimbilio-writing-retreatDALLAS (SMU)When Lakiesha Carr decided she needed a quiet place and the support of her peers to finish her debut collection of short stories, she knew exactly where she wanted to go: The Kimbilio Retreat for African-American fiction writers at SMU-in-Taos, New Mexico.

“As a writer, it’s always great to have workshop opportunities, because you want as many eyes and insights as you can get for the work,” Carr says. “Kimbilio has a great legacy, even though it’s a young organization, of having tremendously talented and intelligent people coming there, and that in itself is a gift.”

Carr says she choose to attend Kimbilio because it’s hosted by SMU, her alma mater; because she’d heard great things about it from fellow writers; and because of the renowned beauty of northern New Mexico.

“A lot of the great retreats and MSA programs are often not just in remote areas, but places where natural life is preserved and honored,” Carr says. “I appreciate how much landscape scenery and the history of a place can inspire my creative process in particular, which I think is fairly common for a lot of writers.”

A former journalist with CNN and the New York Times, Carr says she decided to write a short story collection to tell stories with the kind of nuance that national media can’t muster.

Her debut collection will focus on the experiences of African American women going through change; whether it’s the change of flowering youth, the change of old age, or the change of becoming a mother in a community that often feels its youths are victimized by the police.

“There’s a story touching on the things we see in the news today, particularly with the police violence toward young black people, and the response of a mother who is raising two black boys and what fears, rational and irrational, it causes in her,” Carr says. “Each story is a woman experiencing something critical to her sense of self and sense of identity, and we see how that changes them or if they resist to what that change brings.” READ MORE


Black Writers Retreat to New Mexico

Black Enterprise

Originally Posted: July 19, 2016

Kimbilio, a community of writers and scholars committed to developing, empowering, and sustaining fiction authors from the African diaspora and their stories, hosts an annual retreat for writers of color to read, write, and learn from each other.

A project of the English Department and The Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences at Southern Methodist University (SMU), the Kimbilio Retreat is seven days in which selected fellows and faculty gather in the Carson National Forest to work and share, held each July on the Taos campus of SMU.

“Writing is a solitary, isolating process, but the writer herself cannot grow in an environment of marginalization and doubt. Race permeates the water of American life, but Kimblio allows black writers to float above it—if only for one week a year—and bask in the light of a rigorous, loving, literary community,” says Desiree Cooper, 2013 Kimbilio Fellow. “Kimbilio is a safe place for African American writers to ask hard questions of their art and of the cannon itself. It is a safe place to experiment and evolve, engage and argue, explore, and discover. Kimbilio is as necessary as fire.”

Former CNN and New York Times journalist and SMU alumna, Lakiesha Carr, joins the Kimbilio Retreat as a 2016 Fellow. “As a writer, it’s always great to have workshop opportunities, because you want as many eyes and insights as you can get for the work,” she says. “Kimbilio has a great legacy, even though it’s a young organization, of having tremendously talented and intelligent people coming there, and that in itself is a gift.”

You too can become a Kimbilio Fellow; Kimbilio is open to serious-minded, committed writers with a solid grounding in the fundamentals of fictional craft.

The application process to become a Fellow is open during the late winter and early spring of every year. Applicants submit a sample of their fiction writing and a short essay about why they are interested in becoming a Kimbilio Fellow. Applications are judged blindly by outside evaluators, who are themselves accomplished fiction writers.

Other Kimbilio projects include readings, presentations at professional conferences, and social media networking.

For more information visit

Willard Spiegelman’s book Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead, nicely reviewed

Post and Courier

Originally Posted: July 10, 2016

Review: ‘Senior Moments’ reflects on books, writing, perception, experience

Willard Spiegelman writes essays like Ferran Adria approached “molecular” gastronomy, with conscious, understated artistry.

While generally a hopeful sort, here and there in this slim but thoughtful collection of essays, Spiegelman is as glum as he is enthusiastic, not least on the paradox of humanity’s insignificance.

But if lucidity and essence, alloyed with depth, are what he expects of great writing, he generally delivers what he advocates. And with an elastic, youthful temperament that belies the book’s title. The author’s reflections on growing older frame the book; they do not define it.

Spiegelman, 71, distinguished professor of English at Southern Methodist University and former editor of the Southwest Review, is most engaging on the subject he knows best. He defines good writing as what makes you interested in something you are not interested in. Yet few of these pieces lack relevance. Spiegelman is especially adroit on poetry, admiring verse that seduces through “condensation and expansive suggestiveness,” prompting each reader to respond to and decipher it individually. In any field of writing, he respects and seeks out those demonstrating “cool clarity, sharpened perception, and a transparent style.”

Occasionally, this prompts the native Philadelphian to be offhand and a bit waspish regarding work he considers less aesthetically sound or pleasing, but perhaps this comes with the territory, and he certainly has a right to his preferences.

On other matters, one may disagree with any number of his pronouncements, such as “the most compelling revelations always come to travelers in the most ordinary situations,” that in our digital age “all that recommends books as material objects” is their decorative appeal or “their manifestation of cultural capital,” or that, more prosaically, “driving closes the mind to everything but driving itself.” Certainly, all these things depend on the individual.

A regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Spiegelman deals with the glories of books and reading as well as the freedom of saying “No thanks” to many a book, including some celebrated classics. READ MORE

What we know about Hope Hicks, SMU grad and Donald Trump’s secretive press secretary

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: June 21, 2016

Donald Trump’s press secretary hasn’t shared much information about herself, and she’s rarely, if ever, available for comment.

But this week,  the public learned  more about Hope Hicks when GQ and Marie Claire magazines published pieces about the Southern Methodist University alum.

Since her graduation from SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences in 2010, Hicks, 27, has skyrocketed to the top of the Trump universe. The Connecticut native comes from a family of well-connected public relations experts.

Hicks routinely declines interview requests, unlike Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, whose social media presence rivals that of Trump himself. READ MORE

Meet Hope Hicks, Dedman College Alumna and Donald Trump Communications Director

Marie Claire

Originally Posted: June 7, 2016

In Donald Trump’s inner circle on the campaign trail, there’s just one woman: Hope Hicks, 27, his communications director and the only woman who travels full-time with the Republican front-runner.

Hicks has played an integral role in Trump’s unprecedented rise in the 2016 election. As Trump tweets about the controversies du jour with abandon, delivers unscripted soliloquies at campaign stops, and is a near-constant presence on cable news, Hicks is behind the scenes, juggling the moving parts of the rapid news cycle.

In 2012, after a successful teen modeling career and graduating from Southern Methodist University, the Connecticut native got her first taste of the Trump life working on the hotel and golf divisions of his company for New York public relations firm Hiltzik Strategies. The Trump Organization brought her in-house as the director of communications in 2014, and the following year, she got the surprise of a lifetime when The Donald asked her to join his budding campaign. Here, in her first-ever interview in her current role, she shares what it’s like to work for the unconventional candidate.  READ MORE

Tim Cassedy, English, creates Shakespeare-inspired card game Bards Dispense Profanity

Mental Floss

Originally Posted: May 19, 2016

If you’re a recovering English major with a debauched mind, then bawdy, literary-inspired word prompt games are likely more your speed than Apples to Apples. That’s why there’s Bards Dispense Profanity

The Shakespeare-themed group party activity contains 100 “mock-serious” prompts and 375 answers copied word-for-word from Shakespeare’s works. Each player receives seven quote cards, which they use to anonymously finish an open-ended prompt. A “Profanity Judge” chooses the best (read: the dirtiest and/or most hilarious) one. Then the next player serves as arbitrator and the process begins anew. READ MORE

English professor establishes Kimbilio to provide networking, educational and professional advancement opportunities for emerging African-American writers.

Detroit News

Originally Posted: May 10, 2016

Author Desiree Cooper says newcomers to the annual Kimbilio Fiction retreat for African-American writers “talk like they’ve been on a lifeboat and they’re just trying to hold on until they can find that place that keeps them safe.”

David Haynes, a novelist and professor of English at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University, established Kimbilio in 2013 as a means of providing networking, educational and professional advancement opportunities for emerging African-American writers. The organization has since amassed a network of 60 fellows; held three writers’ retreats in Taos, New Mexico, and initiated a nationwide series of reading events featuring its fellows. Kimbilio’s next reading event will be Wednesday at Pages Bookshop, featuring fellows Cooper, Angela Flournoy and Cole Lavalais.

Haynes says the organization’s name was derived from a Swahili word meaning “safe haven.”

“For so many writers of color, traditional retreats or traditional M.F.A. programs or various other support networks have not always been welcoming and safe places,” Haynes says. “That’s been one of the real drivers behind creating spaces where we can grow and learn as a community, and really develop important and necessary mutual support networks.” READ MORE

Dedman College Alumnus William C. Roberts, MD, Earns Lifetime Achievement Award From American College of Cardiology

SMU Magazine

Originally Posted: March 22, 2016

Bill Roberts photo

Physician William C. Roberts ’54, executive director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute (BHVI), has been awarded the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) for his contributions to the cardiovascular profession.

The award, which is the highest recognition bestowed by the ACC, honors Roberts’ outstanding work in cardiac pathology. Roberts will receive the award at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session and Expo on April 4 in Chicago. The ACC was founded in 1949 and has more than 49,000 members worldwide.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award from my peers,” Roberts says. “I am proud and pleased that the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute has played a major role in my career and research done particularly after coming to Dallas made this award possible.”

The award also recognizes him as a role model through his service, research and teaching.

“Dr. William Roberts has made lasting contributions to the field of cardiovascular medicine through dedication to his patients, practice and colleagues,” says ACC President Kim Allan Williams, MD, FACC. “It is an honor to be able to recognize Dr. Roberts with the Lifetime Achievement Award and celebrate his contributions to and achievements in cardiology.”

Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in English from SMU in 1954, which has served him well as editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Cardiology and Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings. He has published more than 1,600 peer-reviewed articles and served on the editorial boards of nearly three dozen cardiology publications.

“Bill has, indeed, experienced a lifetime of achievement as the most important and accomplished cardiovascular pathologist of his era, as a teacher of incalculable numbers of cardiologists including at the annual Williamsburg Conference on Heart Disease for more than 40 years, and as the successful editor of The American Journal of Cardiology for 34 years,” says Barry Maron MD, director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.

Roberts also serves as dean of the A. Webb Roberts Center for Continuing Medical Education.

“It is a rarity to have the opportunity to work closely with such a stellar cardiac pathologist who is also an exemplary clinical research investigator and who is truly known to be the ‘father of cardiovascular pathology,’” says Kevin Wheelan, MD, chief of medical staff, Baylor Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, Dallas. “To work with him on a daily basis is an honor. Dr. Roberts’ contributions to the cardiology world have been far-reaching.”

Marc Silver, MD, chief of the division of medical services and clinical professor of medicine at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, IL, said, “This award is so richly deserved. Perhaps no one more than my parents taught me so much over my entire career. He remains one of the most receptive and nimble minds in medicine. He has mentored and trained much of the current leadership in cardiovascular disease in America.”

Barry Maron MD, director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, said, “No one in cardiovascular medicine is more deserving of this lifetime achievement award. Bill has indeed experienced a lifetime of achievement as the most important and accomplished cardiovascular pathologist of his era, as a teacher of incalculable numbers of cardiologists including at the annual Williamsburg Conference on Heart Disease for more than 40 years, and as the successful editor of The American Journal of Cardiology for 34 years.”

Decorated Poet Dora Malech to perform poetry reading, give Q&A at SMU

SMU News

Originally Posted: March 11, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – Dora Malech, a widely published and highly decorated poet currently on faculty at Johns Hopkins University, will perform a poetry reading and engage in a question-and-answer session at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, in room 131 of the Dedman Life Science building at SMU.

“Dora Malech is one of the most exciting young poets writing in America,” says SMU Associate Professor of English Greg Brownderville. “She’s only in her mid 30s and already in a tenure track position for a prestigious seminar at John Hopkins University. She’s won virtually every award a poet of her age could conceivably win and she’s a very good performer of her poetry. She also has a delightful personality that will come through during the banter between reading her poems.”

Malech has published two collections of poetry, Shore Ordered Ocean, in 2009, and Say so, in 2011. Her poems have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Poetry and Best New Poets, and she’s received a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Frederick M. Clapp Poetry Writing Fellowship from Yale, among other honors.

“She writes poems in which there is this big heart yearning for contact or connection in a modern environment where connection is hard to come by,” Brownderville says. “She has a poem in which a woman is in a train station secretly saying a prayer within the privacy of her own mind, blessing every man she sees in the station. And you get the sense the speaker would love to meet the people she’s praying for, but she’s in a train station and everyone is going to another destination and nobody knows anybody. So there’s this transitory anonymity that everybody is having to deal with as a condition of their lives.”

The event is free and open to the public. READ MORE